The Parliament's debating chamber Photo: Diliff

MEPs vote to strengthen the EU’s most powerful climate law

May 30, 2017

MEPs voted today to increase the ambition of the EU’s most powerful climate law, the proposed Effort Sharing Regulation (ESR).

The Parliament’s Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) voted for countries to reduce their emissions based on a more realistic starting point. The new starting point will be either the 2018 emission levels or 2020 national climate targets, whichever is lower.

The proposed ESR sets binding national emission reduction targets for the 2021 – 2030 period for sectors not covered by the emissions trading system, namely transport, buildings, architecture and waste. Combined, these areas account for roughly 60% of Europe’s total greenhouse gas emissions.

The proposed regulation is part of the EU’s efforts to reduce its GHG emissions by at least 40% below 1990 levels by 2030. MEPs also set a target for 2050, of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80% compared to 2005.

“The proposals adopted today ensure that Europe will deliver on its international climate commitments. Now we must move ahead swiftly to provide certainty for investors and show the international community that the Paris Agreement is not negotiable.” – Rapporteur Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy (ALDE, NL)

Transport & Environment (T&E), a leading European NGO, largely welcomed the decision to support a more ambitious starting point than the European Commission’s proposal.

T&E particularly welcomed the limitation on ‘banking’ flexibility which will prevent unused emissions allocations from being carried over.

The new legislation will also close a potential forestry loophole, according to T&E, by setting lower limits for the amount of forestry credits that could be used to offset emissions in the ESR sector.  MEPs also voted to lower the ceiling on land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF) removals.

Cristina Mestre, climate officer at T&E said that the decision of the environmental committee was a step in the right direction, anticipating emissions reductions across the board. T&E estimate that the decision will lead to the prevention of around 562Mt of CO2 emissions by 2030.

“The Effort Sharing Regulation, if designed properly, can be a great driver for decarbonising the economy and delivering on the Paris agreement. But the plenary of the European Parliament must remain strong and support this position in the discussions to come.” – Cristina Mestre

The text was adopted by 42 votes to 4, with 20 abstentions. It will now be put to a vote by the full House during the 12-15 June plenary session in Strasbourg.

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