Key climate proposals fail to pass European Parliament

Key pieces of the EU’s climate legislation failed to pass the European Parliament Wednesday.

In a series of dramatic votes, lawmakers refused to adopt positions on the reform of the EU’s carbon market, the introduction of a carbon border tax and the establishment of a Social Climate Fund following conservative-led efforts to water them down.

MEPs rejected the final report by lead lawmaker Peter Liese on the expansion and revision of the Emissions Trading System — a key part of the European Commission’s Fit for 55 climate legislation package — by 365 votes against, 265 votes in favor and 34 abstentions, causing uproar in plenary.

Lawmakers then agreed to refer the text, alongside interlinked reports dealing with the carbon border tax and the Social Climate Fund, back to committee.

The move to kill the ETS report came after MEPs passed a series of amendments pushed by the center-right European People’s Party and its allies that would have resulted in weaker emissions cuts than proposed by the environment committee last month and delayed the phaseout of free carbon credits.

The ENVI Committee had backed an approach that would have slashed emissions in sectors covered by the ETS by 67 percent until 2030, up from the Commission’s 61 percent. 

The position Parliament appeared poised to adopt would achieve 63 percent. But that includes a slower one-off reduction of carbon credits, removing 70 million from the market in 2024 and 50 million in 2026 instead of the Commission’s 117 million in 2024. Left-wing MEPs declared that a “red line” as it would result in more emissions in the short term.

After the conservative amendments passed, the center-left Socialists & Democrats requested a three-minute break — and decided to vote down the entire report rather than allow a weakened version to pass.

Liese, of the EPP, was furious. “It’s a bad day for this Parliament,” he said.

S&D leader Iratxe García hit back: “You can’t ask for a vote from the extreme right in order to reduce ambition and then ask for our vote in order to support it as a whole.”

Karl Mathiesen contributed reporting.

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