European Parliament betrays spirit of Paris Agreement

Climate action

The European Parliament voted today on its position for the redesign of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme for the coming decade. Instead of scaling up emission cuts beyond what the Parliament’s environment committee has proposed, lawmakers watered down provisions aimed at increasing the level of ambition of the reform.

In an effort to boost ambition of the revision, the Parliament’s environment committee had proposed to increase annual emission cuts (via the so-called Linear Reduction Factor) from 2.2 to 2.4 percent per year starting in 2021 and to reduce the number of emission permits by strengthening the Market Stability Reserve, which temporarily stores their surplus. However, the Parliament’s plenary supported lowering the rate back to 2.2 percent until 2024.

Commenting on the vote results, Wendel Trio, Director of CAN Europe said:

“It is shocking that the Parliament chose to bow to the interests of polluting industries instead of protecting citizens from a catastrophic climate breakdown. The Parliament has completely failed the first test of its commitment to the Paris Agreement. The proposed reforms will keep the carbon market ineffective for a decade or more. We urge progressive EU governments to finally turn the ETS into a functioning tool and create a stimulus to ditch old models and move to green economy.”

The next important moment in the reform of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) will be a debate at the Council of Environment Ministers on 28 February 2017. 

Francisco Ferreira, President of the Board of ZERO, Portugal said: “The Parliament missed an opportunity to multiply vital revenues for the energy transition. Portugal has so far received €239 million revenues from ETS auctioning. Stronger ETS would mean more funds, as the higher the carbon price, the higher the revenues.”

Oxfam’s EU policy advisor Marc-Olivier Herman said: “Today’s vote by the European Parliament represents a missed opportunity for the climate and for those hardest hit by global warming. The text adopted fails to set new ambitious limits for climate-damaging emissions of the EU’s industry after 2020. In addition, no share of the revenues from the EU Emissions Trading Scheme was allocated to help poor countries adapt to the devastating impacts of climate change. The Parliament and the Council must address these flaws when they decide on the final text of the legislation.”

Izabela Zygmunt from CEE Bankwatch and Polish Green Network said: “When the ETS was established in 2005, we were in a very different situation, both technologically and politically. Today clean renewable energy is already cheaper than fossil energy, and the European Union has ratified the Paris Agreement. In this new situation, a light-touch approach towards CO2 emitters in the ETS is neither necessary nor justifiable. There is simply no point in having an emissions trading system that fails to serve its primary purpose and protects the interests of CO2 emitters instead of promoting clean business models.”



[1] CAN Europe letter to MEPs ahead of ETS reform vote on February 15th 2017:

[2] Frequently Asked Questions about the Emissions Trading System reform

[3] A petition calling on MEPs to support ambitious reform of the ETS, launched by CAN Europe, Sandbag, Carbon Market Watch, WWF, Oxfam and WeMove.EU has been signed by nearly 100 000 citizens:

[4] Infographic ‘EU citizens pick up climate polluters’ bill’:


Wendel Trio, CAN Europe Director,, +32 473 170 887

Ania Drazkiewicz, CAN Europe Communications Coordinator,, +32 494 525 738

Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe is Europe’s largest coalition working on climate and energy issues. With over 130 member organisations in more than 30 European countries – representing over 44 million citizens – CAN Europe works to prevent dangerous climate change and promote sustainable climate and energy policy in Europe.


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