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EU lawmakers reduce loopholes in key climate law

BRUSSELS 30 May 2017. The European Parliament’s environment committee voted today to limit loopholes in the EU’s key climate legislation, preventing  European countries from stalling emissions reductions in sectors such as agriculture and transport. EU environment ministers must go further to maximise the low-carbon potential of the law as they prepare to adopt a joint position at their next meeting in June.

Today, the European Parliament’s environment committee voted on its position on the Effort Sharing Regulation (ESR) which covers a majority of Europe’s greenhouse gas emissions and is a key law to deliver on the Paris climate goals.

Committee members proposed to better align the starting point with actual emissions levels and to limit the possibility to use credits from forestry to offset emissions from agriculture and transport sectors. However, they also introduced a new loophole that could put the brakes on new climate actions by rewarding emission savings from the past.

Femke De Jong, EU Policy Director at Carbon Market Watch said:

Today’s vote puts us on the right track towards meeting the Paris climate goals by limiting the loopholes in the EU’s largest climate law. But Europe needs further bold action to fully unlock the vast low-carbon opportunities in sectors such as transport and waste management.

The environment committee’s position could lead to almost 400 million tonnes extra emissions cuts compared to the Commission’s proposal, which is equal to around 700 million tons of plastic waste being recycled instead of burned.

It also lowers the risks associated with relying on carbon removals by forests that can be reversed when trees are cleared and burned.

The EU Member States must follow suit by closing all loopholes in the law, to spur the numerous local initiatives that deliver tangible co-benefits for European citizens such as clean air, more livable cities, and less energy poverty,” Femke De Jong said.

The plenary of the European Parliament is expected to confirm today’s outcome in their June or July session, and EU environment ministers aim to agree on a common position at their next meeting on 19 June. The talks between the Council and the European Parliament are expected to start after summer and the final law is likely to be adopted by the end of 2017.


Media contacts:

Femke de Jong, EU Policy Director
[email protected]
+32 4 897 726 37

Kaisa Amaral, Press Officer
[email protected]
+32 4 85 07 68 90

Notes to editors:

The Effort Sharing Regulation (ESR) is the EU’s largest climate law as it covers about 60% of the Union’s total greenhouse gas emissions. The law aims to reduce the EU’s emissions from sectors such as transport, buildings, agriculture and waste management by 30% until 2030, by setting national climate targets for each EU Member State for the 2021-2030 period.

The position adopted by the environment committee members of the European Parliament includes the following elements:

  • A starting point that better reflects actual emissions in 2020 and avoids rewarding countries that underachieve in the current period. This starting point results in around 370 Mt CO2e additional emission cuts compared to the Commission proposal, equal to around 350 million fewer cars on our roads in a single year.
  • An early action reserve that rewards countries lagging behind their 2030 target to receive a maximum of 70 Mt CO2e in carbon permits from those countries that will overperform. This ‘hot air’ reserve risks widening the divergence in per capita emissions in Europe.
  • A lower ceiling on the amount of land use and forestry offsets that can be used to compensate agriculture emissions by limiting the number of land use offsets to a maximum of 190 Mt CO2e compared to 280 Mt CO2e in the Commission proposal.


Policy brief and infographic: EU Climate Leader Board – Where countries stand on the Effort Sharing Regulation – Europe’s largest climate tool
Effort Sharing Emissions Calculator
Policy brief: The 2030 Effort Sharing Regulation – How can the EU’s largest climate tool spur Europe’s low-carbon transition?
European climate policy guide: Vol II – EU Effort Sharing Regulation



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