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Earlier today (Wednesday) European Parliament members voted to reject a proposal by the EU Commission to reform the bloc’s carbon market, which is aimed at cutting emissions over the next decade. By sending the proposal back to the parliamentary committee tasked with drafting it, the lawmakers thwarted an attempt to confirm the EU assembly’s position over upcoming negotiations on the final carbon market reform.
European MEPs are currently splintered over the proposed plans, which are aimed at putting the EU back on track to fulfilling its goals of reducing net greenhouse gas emissions 55 percent by 2030, from 1990 levels.
The flagship proposal made by the Commission is a major reform of the EU’s carbon market, known as the Emissions Trading Scheme which could have been its biggest overhaul since it was launched in 2005.
The proposal would strengthen the scheme, by raising its targets to cut emissions from 61 percent by 2030.
While some MEPs have argued for boosting that figure to a 67 percent emission reduction, others are looking to only make an incremental change to 63 percent.
Another major proposal to set the EU on course to reach its climate targets was to issue an effective ban on new internal combustion engine car sales by 2035 by imposing a 100 percent cut on CO2 emissions from new cars.
This proposal faced stiff opposition from the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP), the parliament’s biggest lawmaker group, which looked to weaken that to a 90 percent CO2 cut.
EPP lawmaker Jens Gieseke slammed the proposal saying: “We need flexibility for the market and for customers. We shouldn’t have bans.”
Meanwhile, Jan Huitema, the EU parliament’s lead lawmaker on the proposal to ban new fossil fuel cars noted that the 2035 timeline was crucial, considering the average lifespan of a new car is around 15 years.
This means a ban any later than that could prevent the bloc from reaching its target of net zero emission by 2050, which is the target scientists have warned the world must reach in order avoid the most disastrous levels of climate change.
The proposal to reform the Emissions Trading Scheme was strongly rejected by the EU parliament, with 340 votes against and 265 in favour, with 34 abstentions.
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One diplomat told EURACTIV the rejection risks delaying negotiations with EU member countries to finalise the package, as capitals will “likely have to wait for the European Parliament to stop squabbling”.
Peter Liese, a German MEP from the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP), who was the leading lawmaker on the ETS revision said: “The Social Democrats and the Greens have failed to live up to their responsibility for climate protection.”
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