The renewable energy co-op sector has criticised MEPs for voting down plans to toughen up the carbon trading rules put in place to tackle climate change.
The European Parliament held a debate and vote on the proposals on 8 June, and rejected plans to amend the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) to include carbon from transport and construction. MEPs voted against the changes by 340 against, 265 in favour and 34 abstentions.
The proposals would have also removed current exceptions to the carbon-trading scheme for European industry while introducing a carbon tax on imports at the EU’s borders. Another change would have introducted a social climate fund to help low-income households to pay for energy-efficiency improvements.
The European federation of citizen energy co-operatives, REScoop, said the vote is a setback in the fight for a social just transition away from carbon.
“Today the European Parliament failed to find common ground for the revision of ETS, also moving the vote for the Social Climate Fund to September. We need a Just Transition now,” it wrote on Twitter.
However, MEPs did vote to end the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2035, with 339 votes in favour, 249 against and 24 abstentions. Cars are responsible for 12% of all CO2 emissions in the EU.
The proposals around ETS form part of the European Commission’s Fit for 55 legislative package, which sets out the plan for a green transition under the EU Green Deal.
RESCoop argues that using the Social Climate Fund (SCF) to buffer the Fit for 55 package’s social impact means “a reactive, rather than a much-needed proactive or strategic approach”.
A policy paper from the apex said: “The Fund should not be designed as a reactive measure for regressive climate policy, but as a proactive measure to address structural drivers of energy poverty and vulnerability. Holding the SCF hostage to a process of fundraising through the ETS is likely to jeopardise any attempt at regaining acceptability through redistributional measures. Therefore, its creation should be decoupled from the extension of the ETS to buildings and transport.”
REScoop is calling for policymakers to back community energy initiatives, which it says can play a meaningful role in addressing social justice issues and empowering low-income and vulnerable households.
The proposed laws will now be sent back to the European Parliament’s Environment Committee to be re-negotiated.