MEPs reject changes to carbon emissions freeze

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We are unable to provide the video for this debate, but the speeches may be viewed at the website of the European Parliament.

MEPs have rejected a proposal to back a change to laws on the trading of carbon emission quotas.

In a debate on 15 April 2013, Climate Action Commissioner Connie Hedegaard said the proposal to introduce "backloading" - whereby the Commission could intervene in CO2 emissions trading - could mitigate the recent fall in carbon prices.

The auction of carbon emissions quotas are a key part of the EU's Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), and Ms Hedegaard said that setting carbon prices or freezing some of the auctions could help boost green investment.

She said there was a current unexpected build-up of allowance surpluses, due to a fall in industrial activity as a result of the economic crises.

At committee stage, MEPs were deeply divided with the Environment Committee narrowly supporting the plans, and the Industry Committee opposing the Commission.

Speaking on behalf of the Industry Committee, Italian centre-right MEP Amalia Sartori said the Commission should back away from intervening in carbon markets, saying there should be more of a focus on supporting European industry.

But Ms Hedegaard said that the Commission had a "duty to act when assumptions on which the initial legislation was based have fundamentally changed".

Dutch Green MEP Bas Eickhout said that many major corporations, including some large energy companies, were supporting the Commission as "they see their innovation in green technology being killed in Europe".

He also criticised the fact that coal-fired power stations were now expanding in the EU and that coal was now the cheapest way to produce energy.

But Ukip MEP Godfrey Bloom criticised the whole ETS system, arguing it is "based on a hypothesis of global warming that is dead in the water".

"It is a complete money-making nonsense," he concluded.

When the final vote took place in plenary the following day, MEPs voted to reject the Commission's proposals, and send the draft laws back to committee for futher negotiations.

Useful links.

The European Parliament's disclaimer on the use of simultaneous interpretations can be found here.

Read Democracy Live's guide to how the plenary sessions work here.

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