Rebel Tory MEPs decisive in failure of vote to reform EU Emission Trading Scheme

A European Parliament vote on the future of the beleaguered Emission Trading Scheme (ETS), with implications for international climate change policy, failed to deliver a vital reform today when a majority of Conservative MEPs voted against the government.

Emissions

Reg Platt is a senior research fellow at the IPPR

A European Parliament vote on the future of the beleaguered Emission Trading Scheme (ETS), with implications for international climate change policy, failed to deliver a vital reform today when a majority of Conservative MEPs voted against the government.

The reform, known as ‘backloading’, which was strongly supported by the UK Government, would have propped up the price of carbon in the ETS market by delaying the auction of new emission permits. The price of carbon had previously crashed due to a surplus of permits in the market.

The vote was tight: 334 MEPs voted against the reform and 315 in favour. A roll call of votes showed that 21 Conservative MEPs voted against the Government’s position while 4 voted in favour – a decisive figure given the closeness of the vote. A Lib Dem MEP, Bill Newton Dunn, also voted against the reform while all attendant Labour MEPs voted in favour.

The ramifications from today’s vote are significant. The price of carbon has collapsed, which will further undermine already frail confidence in the viability of the ETS to drive forward decarbonisation. The EU’s credibility on climate policy will also be severely damaged, at a time when there are clear signals from China and the US that they are willing to ramp up their decarbonisation ambitions.

By failing to ensure its MEPS voted for this vital reform, the Conservative party has once again undermined its claim to be the ‘greenest government ever’.

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