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European Parliament improves key climate law but fails to close all loopholes

STRASBOURG 14 June 2017. Today, the European Parliament voted on the Effort Sharing Regulation which covers the emissions from the transport, building, agriculture and waste sectors in the 2021-2030 period. While strengthening the EU’s largest climate tool, the Parliament position leaves loopholes in the draft law that risk postponing emission reductions in these sectors.

The Effort Sharing Regulation is Europe’s largest climate instrument and key to delivering on the Paris climate goals and avoiding catastrophic global warming.

As a welcome move, the Parliament supported a better alignment of the starting point with actual emissions levels which means that there will be significantly less emissions released in the period up to 2030 than with the starting point proposed by the Commission.

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

“Today the European Parliament took a step in the right direction by setting a more accurate baseline that better reflects reality and avoids that countries are rewarded for stalling climate action. It is now up to environment ministers to show leadership by closing the remaining loopholes and increasing Europe’s climate ambition.”

The Parliament rejected the environment committee proposal to set a lower limit on the amount of land use and forestry offsets that can be used to compensate for agriculture emissions, deciding to keep the original ceiling put forward by the Commission. The Members of the Parliament moreover increased the new loophole introduced by the environment committee that could put the brakes on new climate actions by rewarding emission savings from the past.

Femke de Jong:

“Allowing forestry credits to delay the shift to a sustainable agriculture system puts an unreasonable burden on the shoulder of the next generation of farmers, whose livelihoods will be among those worst hit by climate change.”

The Parliament position could lead to 280 million tonnes extra emissions cuts compared to the Commission’s proposal, which is equal to around 500 million tons of plastic waste being recycled instead of burned.

The EU environment ministers aim to agree on a common position in October. After that, the Council and the European Parliament will start the final talks with the law likely to be adopted by the end of 2017.



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 editor

The Effort Sharing Regulation (ESR) is the EU’s largest climate law after 2020 as it will cover 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% in 2030, and sets national climate targets for each EU Member State in the 2021-2030 period.

The position adopted by 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 less cars on our roads in a single year.
  • A provision to limit the number of surplus carbon credits that can be banked for use in future years. This increases the likelihood that the EU’s 2030 climate target is met by emission cuts in reality, rather than just on paper.
  • An early action reserve that rewards countries lagging behind their 2030 target to receive a maximum of 90 Mt CO2e in carbon permits from those countries that will overperform. This ‘hot air’ reserve risks widening the divergence of per capita emissions in Europe.
  • No change in the amount of land use and forestry offsets that can be used to compensate agriculture emissions, keeping the 280Mt limit as proposed by the Commission, compared to 190Mt in the environment committee 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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