Great relief in the European Parliament: After the voting debacle two weeks ago, MEPs have now voted for an important part of the EU climate package “Fit for 55”. It is about a new compromise for the reform of the EU emissions trading system (ETS) as well as a climate social fund and the introduction of a CO2 tariff at the EU’s external borders.
“Today’s decision by the plenum is good for the climate and good for jobs,” said CDU MP Peter Liese, who, as rapporteur for the European Parliament, is largely responsible for the compromise on emissions trading. “With this decision, we are making it legally binding that we will save more CO2 in the next eight years than in the last 30 years.” Liese speaks of the “biggest climate protection law of all time”.
With the vote on Wednesday, however, initially only the position of Parliament will be determined. There may still be changes in negotiations with EU countries. It is unclear what these could look like, since the states have not yet agreed on a common position. The resistance to the ETS comes mainly from the countries of Central and Eastern Europe. They fear that rising energy prices could worsen poverty and that there could be social tensions and protests. In the meantime, the war in Ukraine has once again dramatically aggravated the issue of energy prices throughout Europe.
The new compromise now stipulates, among other things, that the free allocation of certificates for CO2 emissions should gradually be phased out from 2027 and disappear completely from 2032. There are also plans to expand emissions trading to include buildings and transport.
The ETS is at the heart of EU climate policy. Certain industries have to pay for the emission of climate-damaging gases such as CO2. Until recently, there was a heated debate as to whether the system should also be extended to buildings and transport, because it was feared that consumers would then have to pay even more for heating and driving. In Germany and other EU countries, these areas are already part of emissions trading. In addition, the climate social fund is intended to relieve the burden on citizens.
It was difficult for the Greens to agree to the compromise. The regulation does not go far enough for them, which is why they voted no in the first vote. “The minimum standard for climate protection has thus been met,” said Green MP Michael Bloss about the compromise. However, he is convinced that the 1.5 degree target for global warming cannot be achieved in the next few decades, and that we must now try to keep the rise at least below two degrees.
As Michael Bloss describes, the Greens did a kind of damage limitation in the second vote. “If I refuse my vote now, I will ultimately have less room for maneuver in the crucial negotiations,” wrote the politician on Twitter before the vote. In his eyes, there is a risk that even less could be achieved for climate protection in the negotiations with the EU member states. The climate policy spokesman for the Social Democratic Group in the European Parliament, Tiemo Wölken, was satisfied. All sides would have moved towards each other.
The decisive factor was that before the vote two weeks ago, the bill had been toned down because of various motions. For many MEPs, the changes went too far. The Social Democrats joined the camp at the last minute, which voted against. Last week, Christian Democrat, Liberal and Social Democrat MEPs then agreed on the new compromise.