Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Tackling climate change by sharing the burden of effort

Report number 2 voted on by the Parliament's Environment Committee concerned the whole issue of effort sharing by the Member States. The report drafted by the Finnish Green MEP Satu Hassi was in the end adopted by 65 votes in favour with one abstention.

It considerably strengthened the Commission's original proposal by calling for Member States to face strict fines and sanctions if they fail to meet national reduction targets for greenhouse gas emissions from sources that are not covered by the EU ETS, e.g. road and sea transport, buildings, services and farming and smaller industrial installations.

Any Member State that fails to meet its target must pay an "excess emissions penalty" equivalent to the fines paid under the ETS - i.e. €100 per tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent emitted. Should a Member State fail to pay this penalty, then the excess emissions will be deducted from the ETS allowances to be auctioned by that Member State. The Commission would auction these allowances instead.

Auctioning revenues and fines will then be invested in a Community fund dedicated to research, development and use of renewable energy and increased energy efficiency and conservation in the EU.

The report by Satu Hassi backs the binding national targets proposed by the Commission for each Member State to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions from non-ETS sources. It is proposed that the UK reduces its emissions by 16%.

It also sets new EU long term (post-2020) greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets of at least 50% by 2035 and of 60% to 80% by 2050 compared to 1990 levels.

A Member State whose greenhouse gas emissions are below its limit should be able to transfer, sell or lend part of its entitlement to another Member State, to help it meet its target. The transfer revenues should then be invested in energy efficiency, renewable energy or climate-friendly modes of transport.

Until an international agreement is reached Member States will be allowed to "offset" emissions i.e. invest in greenhouse gas reduction projects in developing countries under the UN's Clean Development Mechanism as a means to cut their greenhouse gas emissions. Member States may use such external project credits to account only for up to 8% of their 2005 emissions over 2013-2020. The Commission had originally proposed to allow Member States to "offset" their emissions by up to 3% per year.

Despite much oppostition from other political groups, our group (the Greens/EFA in which the SNP sits) managed to see off atempts to undermine the automatic increase of the EU's target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 from 20% to 30% in the event that an international climate change deal is reached in Copenhagen. Our group also backed long term emissions reductions targets – 50% by 2035 and 60-80% by 2050. This is absolutely crucial if the EU is play a leading role in the negotiations for a new international climate change agreement in Copenhagen next December.

Upon the conclusion of an international agreement, Member States should finance greenhouse gas emission reductions, such as projects to prevent or remedy deforestation in developing and transition countries that have ratified the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The EU should provide grant-based financial assistance for developing countries to help them adapt to climate change. This assistance should increase from €5 billion in 2013 to at least €10 billion in 2020.

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