A Labour MEP secured the rejection of an opposition opinion on the EU's Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) in the European Parliament Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) committee today.
Theresa Griffin MEP, Socialists and Democrats Group (S&D) spokesperson on the ITRE opinion on 'The establishment and operation of a market stability reserve for the Union greenhouse gas emission trading scheme', said:
"The ETS is the cornerstone of the European Union's efforts to reduce its emissions of greenhouse gases. By creating a Market Stability Reserve (MSR) for the ETS we were trying to fix the problems which currently exist with the ETS.
"At present there is a massive surplus of allowances on the market, the ETS is not fit for purpose. Introducing an MSR will help to address this surplus. As politicians we were faced with a choice between an early start date of 2017 or 2021.
"I, along with my S&D colleagues, supported the introduction of the MSR by 2017 as well as bringing back the back-loaded allowances into the ETS MSR. Under our proposals up to 300 million of the unallocated allowances would have been used for the setup of an innovation fund.
"As S&D spokesperson I worked hard with fellow MEPs in both our Group and across the political divide, as well as with representatives of industry and social partners to deliver a reform of the ETS that would revitalise the scheme and would promote a sustainable economy for years to come.
"Unfortunately, we faced massive opposition from other political groups which proved insurmountable in the end. I could not get the outcomes we wanted on an early start date for the MSR or in relation to the back-loaded allowances.
"The position adopted by opposition groups was highly regressive and would have had an extremely negative impact on the ETS without benefiting industry in the long run.
"Thankfully, when it came to the final vote on the opinion I managed to secure its rejection. We did this in order to send a strong message on sustainability and jobs.
"Had the opinion been adopted it would have meant the ITRE position would be that MSR should not start until 2021. This would have sent a very negative message to the parliament's environment (ENVI) committee.
"In view of this I did not feel that either I or my political group could support the opinion as a whole and we therefore voted against the proposal.
"I worked with other sympathetic political groups on the floor of the committee chamber to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat by securing the rejection of the opinion.
"The rapporteur for the opinion, Mr Antonio Tajani, has not been given a mandate by the ITRE committee and the opinion will not be sent to the ENVI committee for consideration.
"In the words of the ITRE Chairman, Mr Jerzy Buzek, rejecting this opinion is "historical voting" and is a "very significant result". I am very pleased that we managed to secure this."
Seb Dance MEP, Labour's European Parliament spokesperson on environment, said:
"I was disappointed to see the ITRE committee ultimately decided to vote against the sensible suggestions put forward by Labour MEPs to bring forward the introduction date of the MSR and cancel the back-loaded allowances.
"By rejecting the ITRE opinion, the focus will now be on the environment committee where my colleagues and I plan to ensure the committee does not settle upon an agreement that would ultimately undermine the effectiveness of the ETS."
Baroness Worthington, Labour's shadow energy and climate change minister, said:
"This is regrettable - only beginning to tackle the huge and growing surpluses in the EU carbon market in 2021 would be like leaving the tap running in an already overflowing bath.
"Calls to kill off the ETS will grow if this problem cannot be fixed earlier. That will create yet more policy uncertainty, costing us low carbon investment and jobs. It now passes to the environment committee and the full parliament to win essential reforms."
The ITRE opinion on the ETS will now not be sent to the ENVI committee who are writing the full report on this. The ENVI committee will vote on the overall report at the end of February and the report will then go to a vote before all MEPs.