Greetings and welcome to the EURACTIV Green Brief. Below is the latest summary of energy and environment news from across Europe. You can sign up for the weekly newsletter here.
For those who have followed the EU’s energy and climate policy over the past five years, the European Commission’s “Fit for 55” package smacks of déjà vu.
As part of the proposals unveiled last week, the EU executive has tabled more than a dozen pieces of legislation – EU directives and regulations – aimed at putting Europe on the right track to reduce its carbon emissions 55% from 1990 levels by 2030.
Pascal Canfin, a seasoned lawmaker who chairs the European Parliament’s environment committee, said it was “probably the most important climate package ever tabled in the world”, with 13 pieces of legislation.
Faced with thousands of pages of legislation, some have warned that a “regulatory tsunamiIs about to strike the European Parliament and the Council of the EU, the two co-legislative bodies of the bloc.
Indeed, lawmakers will have a lot to do over the next two years – the usual time it takes for the EU to approve new laws.
But isn’t there a silver lining in all of this? After all, many of the pieces of legislation in the package are just amended versions of laws that the EU passed in December 2018, as part of its Clean Energy Package (CEP).
This is the case, for example, of the Renewable Energy Directive (RED), the Regulation on CO2 emissions from cars and the Directive on the Emissions Trading System (ETS) to name just a few. than some of the heaviest files.
And lawmakers have been here before. During the previous legislature, lawmakers expressed their fears of a “tsunami of legislation”When the CEP was introduced in 2016. In the end, they survived and completed the job in two and a half years – almost lightning-fast by EU standards.
Will this make it easier to cross the “Fit for 55” line? Not really, unfortunately.
“We have a lot of experience with the clean energy package,” admitted Peter Liese, German senior lawmaker from the center-right EPP group in Parliament. “A lot of fundamental decisions were taken” when the CEP was adopted, he admitted.
However, the political situation has changed since then, with a new generation of MEPs elected to the European Parliament, he noted.
“We have new colleagues and their voices must be heard,” said Liese, referring to the 2019 European elections, which brought in an increased number of green and far-right MPs.
Liese also vigorously rejected suggestions that the new package was just a technical update to existing laws, with only a few percentage adjustments here and there.
Instead, lawmakers will have a charged political debate over changes to the EU’s carbon market, which puts a price on emissions from the electricity sector and industry, he said. . And with carbon pricing now extended to transport and heating fuels, that means EU climate policies will start to directly affect citizens.
“At least colleagues are allowed to question it,” Liese commented.
A tighter carbon market also means EU countries will have to bring forward their coal phase-out date, Liese said, possibly in reference to Germany which has set a target date of 2038 to shut down its last plant. electric coal. – a deadline widely considered to be too late.
“It’s a huge thing, it’s not just a technical adjustment,” Liese said. “This is truly an important political decision that will change the lives of hundreds of thousands of employees,” he said.
In fact, with ‘Fit for 55’, the European Commission has, perhaps unknowingly, taken an unprecedented step forward in shaping EU environmental policy – by integrating politics with all its chaos. and its conflicts in climate policy. And the more politics gets involved, the more unpredictable the results become.
– Frédéric Simon
VIENNA | BUCHAREST. Austria and Romania criticize the EU forestry strategy. Austria and Romania are among 10 EU countries demanding a wide-ranging debate on the EU’s new forest strategy, one of the flagship initiatives of the European Green Deal proposed last week. Both countries said forestry falls under the competence of EU member states and cannot be regulated at European level. After.
LJUBLJANA. First green light for the new section of the Slovenian nuclear power plant. The Slovenian Ministry of Infrastructure has issued an energy permit for the construction of the second unit of Krško, the only nuclear power plant in Slovenia, a step which allows the authorization procedures to begin. Lily After.
VIENNA. Record rainfall and floods hit Austria. After the West Germany, Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands were hit by unprecedented flash floods on Thursday, record rains also triggered severe flooding in Austria over the weekend. Lily After.
PRAGUE. The Czech minister supports the European Commission’s proposal on a carbon tax at borders. The carbon border adjustment mechanism proposed by the European Commission is a “good idea”, said Czech Environment Minister Richard Brabec (ANO, Renew). Czech press agency. Read more.
BRATISLAVA. Activists demonstrate against the LNG terminal on the Danube in Bratislava. More than 60 Greenpeace activists demonstrated on board kayaks on the Danube on Wednesday against the construction of a new liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal in Bratislava. Read more.
China is launching the world’s largest carbon market. China’s long-awaited National Carbon Emissions Trading System (ETS) debuted Friday, July 16 with 4.1 million tons of carbon dioxide allowances worth 210 million yuan (€27.6 million) changing hands, Shanghai Securities News reported. It is the world’s largest carbon market by volume with over 2,000 power plants, responsible for over 4 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions, included in the first trading phase. The price closed at 51.23 yuan (a little less €7) per tonne on the first trading day, up 6.7%.
“China has taken an important milestone in its progress on climate action, putting together the final piece of the puzzle for the world’s largest carbon market,” said Fred Krupp, chairman of the Environmental Defense Fund, an international non-profit organization. The central Chinese government is working with industry associations to collect data on steel, non-ferrous metals, chemicals and other sectors with the aim of expanding carbon trading. (EURACTIV.com with Reuters)
‘Fit for 55’, Belarusian migrants stand and Whatsapp complaints. In the last episode of the season, the Yellow Room brings you all the reactions to the European climate package “Fit for 55” unveiled this week. To break down the elements of this story, we spoke with Kira Taylor, EURACTIV journalist for energy and environment.
“Fit for 55”, a Belarusian migrant and Whatsapp complaints
22ND OF JULY. #eaGreenEU Chat Twitter | Forestry and climate change. Join EURACTIV journalists on energy and environment for a live discussion on the role of forestry and climate change in the EU. Find more information, including how you can participate, here. (Supported by Life Terra)
SEPTEMBER 2. New EU Emissions Trading System: what needs to be changed? Join this EURACTIV virtual conference to discuss how the EU Emissions Trading System should evolve? Speakers to be confirmed. Program and registration here. (EMP supported)
SEPTEMBER 7. Forest restoration and tree planting – what impact for climate change mitigation? Join Humberto Delgado Rosa, Director of Natural Capital at the European Commission, Jytte Guteland from the European Parliament, Sven Kallen, Founder and Secretary, Life Terra Foundation and many others to discuss the impact that restoring forests and planting ‘trees can have on climate change mitigation. Program and registration here. (Supported by Life Terra)
SEPTEMBER 8. Carbon phase-out strategy – is it necessary and will it make a difference? Carbon removals have been highlighted by Europe’s net emission reduction targets. But how will policies work together to ensure that carbon removals are sufficient to deal with the climate crisis? Speakers to be confirmed. Program and registration here. (Supported by Equinor).
JULY 21: Informal meeting of environment ministers. On the second day of the EU Environment Council in Slovenia, ministers will discuss biodiversity. The meeting will be followed by a press conference with Slovenian Environment Minister Andrej Visjak and Environment Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius.
SEPTEMBER 21-23: Informal meeting of transport and energy ministers, September 21-23, 2021. The “Fit for 55” package will undoubtedly feature prominently at the meeting.
DECEMBER 14: Suitable for 55 – part 2. Following the publication of its huge package of climate proposals in July, the European Commission is expected to table more energy related files, including natural gas regulations, and circular economy proposals.
* Editor’s note: This is the last edition of the Green Brief before the summer holidays. We hope you enjoyed the reading and will see you again after the holidays. In the meantime, media coverage will continue on EURACTIV’s Energy & Environment section, albeit at a slightly slower pace. See you in September! Until then, it’s Fred and Kira who disconnect.