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ENVI coordinators set to look for carbon back-loading compromise this week

23 Apr 2013 17:09:08 | edcm

The European parliament's environment committee (ENVI) coordinators are to meet on Thursday in the first stage of an attempt by parliament to find a compromise that could make it easier for members to pass the European Commission's carbon emissions allowance back-loading proposal in a second vote on the measure this summer.

Parliament rejected the proposal during its plenary session on 16 April and the ENVI coordinators' meeting was announced during a news conference on Tuesday as EU environment ministers met in Dublin for the second of a two-day informal environment council hosted by the EU's Irish presidency.

A source close to the discussions said on Tuesday that the proposal will be discussed behind closed doors, adding: "It will be the first exchange of views in ENVI since the proposal was rejected in plenary."

Political groups and rapporteur Matthias Groote have two months in which to agree on a common position.

Overcoming difficulties

When parliament rejected the proposal last week, it decided to send it back to the environment committee (see EDCM 16 April 2013). Meanwhile, the European Council is discussing the measure as well.

"We are in a process of establishing what are the difficulties that can be overcome to allow ... parliament to have another look at the proposal," Irish environment minister Phil Hogan said as a representative of the Irish EU presidency during the press conference.

He added that a second working group on the issue will be held in May.

EU climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard said the commission is awaiting action from other parts of the EU camp before taking additional steps to strengthen the bloc's emissions trading system (ETS). "Now the way forward is simply that the parliament and the council both have to come up with sort of their final say... and we will meet in trialogue," she said.

Jefferies Bache carbon analyst Matthew Gray said the Dublin talks were aimed at drumming up support among member states for the back-loading proposal. "The focus is now on getting a qualified majority at the council," he said.

But not everyone welcomed the commission's attempt to salvage the proposal after last week's parliamentary defeat.

Eija-Riitta Korhola, a Finnish member of the European parliament who led the opposition to back-loading, re-tweeted a comment on line that read: "Insistence of DG Climate and [Hedegaard] to enforce back-loading against EP vote reminds [me of] the worst communist practices."

The move sparked strong criticism from the EU spokesman for climate action, Isaac Valero, who slammed the tweet as "offensive" and "distasteful".

Global deal and 2030 goals

During their Dublin meeting, the ministers also discussed a 2015 climate global deal and EU 2030 climate and energy targets - two issues on which the commission is currently consulting stakeholders (see EDCM 27 March 2013 and EDCM 26 March 2013).

Hedegaard had already said the EU should set 2030 climate targets by 2015 (see EDCM 17 April 2013). During Tuesday's press conference, she repeated her assertion that Europe has to define its post-2020 climate policies now in order to engage effectively in international climate negotiations in 2015.

"Those who say we could wait to define European policies until after an international deal has been done have not understood the message," she said. "Europe must get its act together to have the maximum power to influence the international climate talks."

Tuesday's comments came after a number of central and eastern European countries, including Poland, said last week that the setting of 2030 targets should go "hand in hand" with global negotiations (see EDCM 22 April 2013).

In a separate statement, the Irish presidency said questions posed by the commission regarding the global climate agreement are difficult but important to answer, both for the EU and other parties in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Two negotiating sessions on the global climate agreement are scheduled for this month in Bonn, Germany. Silvia Molteni

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