Environment Committee calls for ETS credits to be set aside 

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Emissions Trading System (ETS) credits should be taken out of the next phase of trading to help lift the sinking carbon price, said Environment Committee MEPs on Tuesday. MEPs also voted on measures aiming to get the EU on track to meet its 20% energy efficiency target by 2020.

The opinion on the proposed Energy Efficiency Directive - led in the Environment Committee by Peter Liese (EPP, DE) - was adopted with 52 votes in favour, 3 against and 6 abstentions. It will be voted in the lead Industry and Energy Committee, currently scheduled for 24 January, before a vote in plenary or possible discussions with co-legislators in Council.

Set-aside of ETS credits

Warning against an excessively low or high carbon price, Peter Liese said, "We approved a careful intervention in the ETS. The Commission should set a significant number of allowances aside to stabilise the carbon price."

The Environment Committee narrowly passed amendments that went further, saying that 1.4 billion allowances should be cancelled and that the 'linear factor' (which sets an annual decrease) should be increased to 2.25%.

Saving energy

The Environment Committee supported the Commission's broad approach to improving energy efficiency, but called for Member States to have "mandatory national targets" and greater flexibility on how to achieve them. For example, MEPs said Member States should be allowed to opt out of a proposed target to renovate 3% of public buildings annually, as long as they achieved more in other areas. "MEPs want Member States to have more freedom but there should be no doubt that we must meet the target", said Mr Liese.

The EU is currently projected to achieve only half of its 20% energy efficiency target for 2020. MEPs say improvement in this area would be the most cost-effective way to achieve or improve on EU emissions-reduction targets and to help reduce the EU's current €400 billion annual bill for energy imports.