End of gasoline-powered cars, taxation of imports, reform of the carbon market at the risk of increasing fuel prices… The European Commission unveiled its battle plan for the climate on Wednesday, a colossal set of texts called “Fit for 55” (“Paré for 55 “), in reference to the EU’s objective of reducing its carbon emissions by 55% by 2030. The NGOs (CAN, Greenpeace, Oxfam, WWF) have jointly denounced a plan” not ambitious enough ” . Here are the main proposals.

Expanded carbon market

The Commission wants to expand the current European carbon market (ETS), where companies in certain sectors can buy or trade the greenhouse gas emission quotas to which they are subject.

ETS revenues would be better targeted, in particular to finance companies’ clean technology projects, by rewarding their emission reductions on the basis of a fixed CO price.2 Student.

This system would be extended from 2023 to maritime transport for the largest ships (freight or cruise) to or from the EU.

“This will not solve the main problem, the lack of alternative fuels”, especially as “ships navigate between continents, often only passing through European waters,” said Ukko Metsola, head of the association. of the cruise industry (CLIA).

The ETS principle would also be applied to road transport and heating of buildings: suppliers of fuel and heating oil would have to buy “pollution rights” on a second operational carbon market from 2025.

Elected officials of all stripes and environmental NGOs denounce the foreseeable increase in the cost of the most vulnerable households (which could increase by some 40% per year, according to estimates).

Carbon tax, free allowances

The Commission wants to drastically restrict the allocation of free “polluting permits” to EU companies and further reduce the volume of allowances in circulation each year, to automatically drive up the price of carbon.

Brussels also proposes to subject imports in five polluting sectors (steel, aluminum, cement, fertilizer, electricity) to ETS rules, by imposing CO-dependent “emission certificates” on them.2 generated by their production and the cost of which will be calculated on the carbon price in the EU.

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If a carbon market exists in its country of origin, the importer will only pay the difference. The mechanism would begin in 2026 and would gain in power over a decade.

By treating imports and local production on an equal basis, Brussels believes it is staying within the rules of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and countering accusations of “protectionism”. For the sake of balance, Brussels would gradually reduce, between 2026 and 2036, the free quotas for European companies in the same sectors, before their abolition in 2036.

The Europe Aluminum federation pleads for the sustainable maintenance of free quotas, deemed necessary for their competitiveness.

For the steel lobby Eurofer, the device risks being inefficient, countries like China being able to use their small share of hydropower to export to the EU a “clean” industrial production while keeping coal-fired factories to supply the rest of the world.

“We must take into account industrial competitiveness and avoid relocations,” said German Minister of the Economy, Peter Altmaier, while welcoming “a step in the right direction”.

End of gasoline and diesel cars

The Commission wants to reduce emissions from new cars (passenger cars and light commercial vehicles) to zero from 2035. Battery-powered electric vehicles being the only ones to meet this requirement, they will de facto become the only ones marketed.

“Banning a technology is not a rational solution,” said the Association of European Automobile Manufacturers (ACEA).

Brussels promises one million charging points along European roads in 2025, 3.5 million in 2030 and 16.3 million in 2050.

Air Transport

The Commission wants to tax kerosene for flights within the EU from 2023. This tax, gradually increased over ten years, would spare private jets and cargo planes due to international legal constraints.

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In addition, companies would gradually lose the free emission allowances they benefit from for their intra-European flights. Brussels also wants to raise the objective of using “sustainable fuels” (mix with biofuels).

“These additional costs hamper our capacity to invest” in more economical devices or clean technologies “and can fuel” carbon leaks “to other regions” which would see their traffic increase, declares the federation of European companies A4E.

“Aviation is on the road to ‘decarbonization'” and does not need “punitive measures like taxes” to change, said the International Air Transport Association.

The sector fears a “distortion of competition” with non-European companies and agitates the specter of planes filling their tanks in Turkey or the United Kingdom to circumvent the European tax.

Renewable energies

Brussels wants to increase the share of renewable energies in its energy mix to 40% by 2030, against a current target of 32%. The emission reduction targets for sectors excluded from the ETS (agriculture, waste, etc.) are increased for each State.

In addition, the energy efficiency objective would be raised: European final energy consumption will have to fall by at least 38% by 2030, with a reduction obligation for the public sector (transport, buildings, waste, etc.) .

Social funds

To curb the impact on the poorest households and counter fuel poverty, Brussels is proposing the establishment of a “social action mechanism for the climate”, a fund supplied by revenues from the “second carbon market”.

The dozen texts unveiled by the European executive will be the subject for at least a year of bitter discussions between MEPs and Member States, but the social consequences of certain proposals are worrying, raising the specter of the French movement of “yellow vests” .

The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, was reassuring, affirming that “employment and social equity will be at the heart of this green transformation”.

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