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High-level advisory group recommends EU push for global carbon pricing

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By Reuters
High-level advisory group recommends EU push for global carbon pricing
FILE PHOTO: Steam rises from the cooling towers of the coal power plant of RWE, one of Europe's biggest electricity and gas companies in Niederaussem, Germany, March 3, 2016. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay//File Photo   -   Copyright  Wolfgang Rattay(Reuters)

By Jonas Ekblom

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – A high-level advisory group to the European Commission has recommended that the incoming executive should push for a global carbon pricing system to speed up progress towards net-zero emissions by mid-century.

The European Union’s new executive, which is due to take office on Dec. 1, has said that a central plank of its push to achieve climate neutrality by 2050 will be to tax polluting industries both inside and outside the 28-nation bloc.

The report by industrial and civil society groups, which was seen by Reuters ahead of publication, said it was “clear that incremental change is not sufficient and there is the need to accelerate the uptake of disruptive solutions.”

The “Masterplan for a competitive transformation of EU Energy Intensive Industries” explores several forms of carbon pricing, including the EU’s emissions trading system under which heavy polluters can buy and sell permits to emit carbon dioxide.

The scheme, however, only covers emissions in EU member states.

While it is not clear which proposals will be taken up by the new Commission, the group recommends that it promote an international carbon pricing mechanism and facilitate an EU-wide debate on how carbon pricing schemes can be implemented.

“Indirect carbon pricing such as reduction targets on carbon footprint of final products sold on the market are worth examining” as well, the report said.

The 68-page report, due to be published on Thursday, goes into detail on how energy-intensive industries such as the metalworking, cement and glassmaking sectors in particular can achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, a goal proposed by the European Commission.

Combating climate change is one of the new Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s main policy goals, and she is expected to put forward an ambitious climate policy package called the “European Green Deal.”

Under that deal, a carbon tax has been proposed for foreign companies to shield European firms from competitors in nations where climate policies are less strict.

(Editing by John Chalmers, Nina Chestney and Alexandra Hudson)