Thursday, October 19

Majority of EU States trying to create loopholes in new greenhouse gas law


Just 3 out of the 28 Member States of the EU appear to be in favour of creating a strict new law to tackle greenhouse gas emissions, according to a new report. The vast majority of other countries wanted to “rig the law with loopholes” to get around the tough law.

The report, which ranked countries based on statements made by Government Ministers, papers sent to the European Council’s Working Party on Environment, and policy positions made in public documents, rated only Sweden’s attitude towards the law as ‘good’, and rated Germany and France’s as ‘moderate’ – earning them second and third place.

Carbon Market Watch and the European Federation for Transport and Environment, who carried out the analysis, place the UK in 5th position with a rating of ‘insufficient’. The lowest ranking countries – Poland, Spain, Romania, Italy, the Czech Republic, Croatia, Latvia, and Lithuania – were considered ‘very poor’.

Source: Carbon Market Watch/ European Federation for Transport and Environment

The law in question looks set to be introduced by the end of this year, and should set binding emission targets for a number of greenhouse gas producing industries – transport, buildings, agriculture, and waste – and will cover approximately 60% of greenhouse gases produced by the EU in the 2021-2030 period.

The law is partly in response to the Paris Climate Agreement, which set ambitious targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Carlos Calvo Ambel, an analyst at the Transport and Environment Federation, said that the proposed law is “the most important climate law that will enable Europe to deliver on the Paris Agreement.”

Several of the countries have been trying to get loopholes included in the law during talks, by promoting the idea of having a later (and therefore higher) baseline for measuring the CO2 cuts, giving out 100m surplus ETS allowances – worth 2 billion euros – to 9 countries to help them ‘meet’ their emissions targets on paper, or greater use of forestry credits to meet the goal.

The use of forestry credits has been criticised in the report, which said that:

“Relying on credits from planting trees is troublesome as the carbon removals can be reversed at any time when trees are cleared and burned”

This all comes at a time when the EU has both slammed Donald Trump for his efforts to unravel Barack Obama’s climate change combatting measures, and has made suggestions that Europe will take the lead with global efforts to reduce global warming.

Miguel Árias Cañete, the EU’s Climate Action Commissioner, said that: “We will stand by Paris, we will defend Paris, and we will implement Paris” in response to Trump, and tweeted that:

However, Femke de Jong, the EU Policy Director at Carbon Market Watch, said that if European leaders were so critical of Trump, they should act in accordance with the Paris Agreement, and not try to create ‘wiggle room’ within this law.

“EU politicians portraying themselves as climate leaders should put their money where their mouth is by closing loopholes in the EU’s key climate law and pushing for more ambition.”

“Only with determined climate action will lawmakers ensure that European citizens can enjoy the significant benefits of a decarbonised society, such as clean air.”

The UK’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Secretary, Greg Clark, responded to this report, and the UK’s position on it, by saying that:

“The UK is an international leader in tackling climate change and played a major role when the world came together in Paris to reach the ambitious deal to reduce global carbon dioxide emissions.”

“Under the UK Climate Change Act, we set our ambitious target of at least 80% emissions reduction by 2050 and have already made good progress with emissions 30% lower today than in 1990”

Theresa May abolished the dedicated department for the Environment.

The UK Government is also facing issues as it is stalling on its own plan to reduce emissions, which is legally required by the Climate Change Act 2008, and faces potential legal action.

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About Author

Jess graduated from the University of Sheffield with a 2.1 in Law, and is currently an LLM International Law and Global Justice student. She joined Legal Loop in December 2015.

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