Climate Action Regulation update: little progress in EU Environment Council

Climate action

This is the second update on a key discussion on the Effort Sharing Regulation (ESR). Following the Parliament’s vote on 14 June, EU Ministers discussed proposals in the Environment Council on 19 June 2017. You can get an update on the Parliament vote here.

Unfortunately the debate was not constructive. There was a lack of progress on increasing the ambition of the Commission’s proposal and the Council did not agree on its position. Instead as requested by the Maltese presidency Ministers focused on giving their opinion on the proposed ‘safety reserve’ – a proposal to allow member states to carry over a glut of worthless “hot air” carbon credits from previous years. It seems very likely that this will from now on be part of the Council’s text. You can read more on the safety reserve in Transport and Environment’s set of FAQs. You can read CAN Europe’s statement on the discussion here.

 Here’s our analysis of the key positive and negative elements of the discussion:

Very few countries spoke out in favor of more ambition…

  • Sweden confirmed that leadership requires looking at our own ambition in light of the facilitative dialogue in 2018, and that sufficient and strong review clauses are important

  • Germany highlighted that we have to be as ambitious as we have promised to be to the international community, and that the starting point must be set on the level of emissions. The proposal could be further improved by changing the starting year trajectory to 2017, as presented in our infographic
  • Luxembourg drew a ‘red line’ with regards to the ‘safety reserve’, saying it can only be acceptable if we can improve the text in the different areas, and urged countries to look to the Parliament’s proposal

  • The Netherlands made a similar statement, saying such a reserve must be compensated by a stronger starting point

  • Denmark said the starting point must be in line with actual emissions.

Others made vague statements …or proposed to weaken the regulation…

  • Unfortunately France was very vague. The new Minister Hulot was not present and their representative stated that “we should now focus on the safety reserve and the flexibility towards the ETS”

  • Latvia complained that that the Commission’s proposal is not aligned with the Council conclusions from 2014 and that the suggested ‘safety reserve’ is too small to make up for that

  • Ireland stated that changing the starting point to be capped with 2020 targets would be a ‘red line’ for them

  • Hungary stated that the starting point trajectory should begin in 2021 and proposed increasing the proposed ‘safety reserve’; Poland and Romania made similar statements.

The Estonian Presidency will now have to try to strike an agreement during the next Council meeting on 13 October, and trialogue negotiations between the Parliament, the Commission and the Council can only start after that.

By Caroline Westblom, EU Climate & Energy Policy Coordinator



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