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Major day of votes on EU's climate-change measures


Major day of votes on EU's climate-change measures

The European Parliament’s influential environment committee has backed a plan to auction carbon-dioxide production permits from 2020 to electricity generators, among a range of environmental measures.

At the moment, industries participating in the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme, or ETS, get most of their permits free – the vote could release up to 30-billion euros. The committee also voted to allow member states to trade surplus CO2 quotas among themselves – and to impose tough penalties on countries which exceed their limits.

It is all part of the drive to meet the EU’s commitment to cut CO2 emissions, to increase the role of renewable energy, and to cut consumption, all by the year 2020.

The committee voted to reduce the amount of environmental investment in developing countries EU nations could claim to compensate for emissions at home. The original, higher, percentage for carbon offsets was proposed by the European Commission in January.

The panel also approved billions of euros in aid to fit power-plants with equipment to capture and bury CO2 emissions in a move which would be the world’s biggest boost for a technology many scientists see as the closest thing there is to a climatic cure-all.

It is not the Parliament’s last say on the greenhouse-gas rules, but it sets the tone for negotiations between EU leaders. Final agreement is expected later this year, or early next.