European Parliament

Member States that fail to meet national emission reduction targets face fines, says Environment Committee

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Source: European Parliament

Member States should 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 Emissions Trading System - e.g. road and sea transport, buildings, services, and farming - says the EP Environment Committee. In a vote on a proposed effort-sharing decision on Tuesday, MEPs backed national targets proposed by the Commission for 2013-2020, and called for these emissions to be halved by 2035.

The new decision will set binding national targets for each Member State to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from non-ETS sources (e.g. road and sea transport, buildings, services, agriculture and smaller industrial installations) between 2013 and 2020. These sources currently account for about 60% of all EU greenhouse gas emissions. The decision aims to reduce these emissions overall by 10% between 2013 and 2020, so as to contribute towards the EU's overall aim of a 20% reduction in total greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.
 
Cut greenhouse gas emissions by up to 80% by 2050
 
The co-decision report, drawn up by Satu Hassi (Greens/EFA, FI), backs the national targets proposed by the Commission, which would allow some Member States, such as Bulgaria, to increase their emissions by up to 20%, whereas others, such as Denmark, Ireland, and Luxembourg would have to reduce theirs by 20%.
 
In addition, the Environment Committee sets new EU long-term (post-2020) reduction targets of at least 50% by 2035 and of 60% to 80% percent by 2050 compared to 1990 levels.
 
Fines and sanctions for missing targets
 
The Commission proposal does not provide for mechanism to enforce compliance. However, Environment Committee MEPs stipulated that 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, says amendment adopted by the committee. 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, say MEPs.
 
Furthermore, Member State exceeding their limits will have to compensate for this underachievement in the following year, state MEPs, as the excess emissions will be multiplied by a mandatory 'additional climate abatement factor of 1.3'.
 
'Overachieving' Member States may trade their emissions entitlements
 
MEPs also say 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, says the amended text.
 
Less credits for clean development projects in third countries
 
Until an international agreement is reached, the decision will allow Member States to 'offset' emissions - that is to invest in greenhouse gas reduction projects in third countries under the UN's Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), as a means to cut their greenhouse gas emissions. Member States may use such project credits to account only for up to 8 percent of their 2005 emissions over the whole period from 2013 to 2020, says the decision as amended by the committee. The Commission, by contrast, had proposed to allow Member States to 'offset' their emissions by up to 3 percent each year.
 
Automatic adjustment to future international agreement
 
The committee also stipulates that, should an international agreement commit the EU to an overall reduction target of 30 percent by 2020, stricter reduction commitments will be implemented automatically.
 
Help developing countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change
 
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), says the new text.
 
Furthermore, MEPs want the EU to 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.
 
ETS emissions
 
The Environment Committee also voted on Avril Doyle's (EPP-ED, IE) report on the revision of the EU's Emission Trading System (ETS) covering emissions from major industrial plants, power generation and aviation. We shall issue a separate press release on this.

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