MEPs try to stop emissions trading bill falling into Polish hands after Brexit vote

One of Poland's many coal mines. [Kamil Porembiński/Flickr]

MEPs are today (28 June) trying to stop the stewardship of EU emissions trading legislation falling into the hands of a coal-supporting Polish member of the European Parliament.

Scottish Conservative Ian Duncan, the lead MEP on the bill revising the Emissions Trading System (ETS), resigned as rapporteur last week after Britain voted to leave the European Union in the Brexit referendum.

His vacant rapporteurship must be filled by a member of the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group, which is dominated by British and Polish MEPs.

Poland is widely regarded as one of the most recalcitrant member states when it comes to climate action because of its dependence on coal, a global warming fossil fuel.

Duncan’s reason for quitting was that he would not be able, before Britain quits the EU, to shepherd the reforms to the broken ETS system through to their becoming law.

But leading MEPs in the European Parliament’s Environment Committee are horrified at the prospect of a Polish member leading the reform of the world’s biggest scheme for trading carbon emissions allowances.

Such is the opposition that understands that Environment Committee Chairman Giovani La Via is considering turning down Duncan’s resignation.

Even the Poles don’t fancy the attacks they would face if they were in charge of a policy file that is central to the EU being able to meet the Paris Agreement commitments it made to cap global warming at the UN Climate Change Conference.

Brexit will mean the Paris Agreement, in the process of ratification, will have to be rewritten as the UK signed it as part of the EU.

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Parliament sources said, “The Poles are coal-obsessed but they would rather a Brit was handling it, and criticise it from afar, than having to fight everyone off with a stick. They don’t want the job.”

A separate source said, “It would be a disaster. No one wants the Poles.”

A decision is expected today or tomorrow on how best to handle the power vacuum.

The ECR is rumoured to be riven by splits over the British vote. There is speculation that some planned to move against ECR chief Syed Kamall, who backed Leave, in the event of a Remain result.

A source said, “The ECR is safe. There’s nowhere for anyone to go and it’s better to hang together than separately.”

Duncan’s decision to step down as the lead MEP after the shock Brexit vote led to him trending on Twitter in Belgium.

Brexit calls EU climate action into question as top MEP quits

The European Union’s plans to reform its broken carbon market have been thrown into turmoil, after the British lead MEP on the bill to revise the Emissions Trading System resigned after the UK voted to leave the bloc.

The British Commissioner Jonathan Hill also quit after the Leave verdict. Today, he received a standing ovation in the European Parliament for his decision.

EU leaders are today meeting in Brussels to discuss the fallout of the referendum.

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