Fit For 55: ENVI Committee Meetings February 2022
by Viola Raffaeli
Amending Directive (EU) 2018/2001 of the European Parliament and of the Council, Regulation (EU) 2018/1999 of the European Parliament and of the Council and Directive 98/70/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards the promotion of energy from renewable sources, and repealing Council Directive (EU) 2015/652
Rapporteur for the opinion: Nils Torvalds (Renew)
The rapporteur discussed the problem of a one-size-fits-all approach, emphasising the fact that one directive cannot and will not provide a solution to all current issues. He views it important to protect biodiversity, and therefore he proposed that a distinction be made between primary and secondary wood biomass. He claimed that such a distinction would limit market distortions on prices for wood burning, which he believes to be of the utmost importance, since he believes that an increase in prices would lead to a non-rational use of carbon. For this reason, he emphasised that setting prices is not the most efficient strategy, since, in a well-functioning market, efficiency is achieved naturally.
There was great disagreement regarding the cascading principle, which “implies the priority use of wood material based on the higher added value that can be potentially generated along the wood value chain” . Some shadow rapporteurs claimed that the markets will achieve efficiency, while others stating that precise standards should be set. There was also disagreement regarding the targets with the representatives from European People’s Party (EPP) and Socialists & Democrats (S&D), among others, claiming that the current targets are insufficient, and that more ambitious goals should be set.
Establishing a carbon border adjustment mechanism
Rapporteur: Mohammed Chahim (S&D)
Rapporteur Chahim stated that Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM) represents a crucial mechanism to incentivise EU trade partners to move towards decarbonisation and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. In his opinion, CBAM is an efficient mechanism not only because it avoids carbon leakages (the transfer of a business’s production to other countries with more relaxed emission constraints), but also because it could replace the current system of free allowances. He believes that a rapid phase-in of CBAM, and phase-out of the current free allowances system would be the best approach, however, he finds that CBAM should be linked to a centralised authority, in order to reduce competition and ensure equal outcomes across the member states.
Many rapporteurs, such as those representing the EPP and European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR), could not agree with the proposal of a rapid phase-in of CBAM, whereas the representatives of the Left and the Greens found that a rapid introduction of the new mechanism would be the best approach. There was disagreement regarding the possibility of exemptions and exceptions, but nonetheless, there was general support for the idea of a centralised oversight system.
Amending Directive 2003/87/EC as regards aviation’s contribution to the Union’s economy-wide emission reduction target and appropriately implementing a global market-based measure
Rapporteur: Sunana Glavak (EPP)
The rapporteur proposed to keep the scope of the Directive to intra-EEA (European Economic Area) aviation, proposing a faster phase-out of free allowances (though more would go to industry). Furthermore, a notable percentage of the Innovation Fund should be directed towards the goal of decarbonising aviation, particularly in the areas of Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAFs) and engine development.
The rapporteur’s proposed amendments received broad support, with many of the shadow rapporteurs expressing enthusiasm for the idea of the elimination of free allowances. Moreover, there was consensus regarding the idea that the aviation sector should contribute to decarbonisation, and should not receive special treatment when it comes to goals for environmental protection.
Amending Regulation (EU) 2018/842 on binding annual greenhouse gas emission reductions by Member States from 2021 to 2030 contributing to climate action to meet commitments under the Paris Agreement
Rapporteur: Jessica Polfjard (EPP)
The EPP representative stated that collective action is required to achieve the goals, however, EU climate ambitions should be raised, particularly by changing the goal of carbon emission reduction for 2030 from 30% to 40%. The rapporteur suggested maintaining existing flexibilities, while making some alterations in order to improve outcomes. However, she also stated that rules on compliance should be made more stringent, and, in her opinion, this could be achieved by introducing a new pressure and pay penalty system, whose monetary gains could be used to invest in research for other renewable options.
The representatives of Renew and of the Greens stated that loopholes should be avoided, and agreed that ambitions should be raised, in order to set goals which are in line with the FitFor55 targets. Although many of the rapporteurs supported the idea of increasing incentives, there was disagreement regarding the proposal of a penalty system.
A New EU Forest Strategy for 2030 – Sustainable Forest Management in Europe
Rapporteur for the opinion: Luisa Regimenti (EPP)
According to Rapporteur Regimenti, establishing rules for the forest sector is fundamental if the EU’s decarbonisation goals are to be achieved, since forests are a source not only of biodiversity, but also of economic growth. She states that the issue of land abandonment should be addressed, for example by offering support to land owners, thereby enabling them to maintain their land.
Much of the debate focused on issues of competence of subsidiarity. Moreover, a topic of great discussion were old forests, with the S&D representative stating that although these areas are now covered by EU legislation, many of them are in suboptimal conditions, and the representative of ECR emphasising that these areas require special attention since they contribute to emissions. Most of the rapporteurs were supportive of a flexible approach, noting that different geographical areas require different measures.
The use of renewable and low-carbon fuels in maritime transport and amending Directive 2009/16/EC
Rapporteur for the opinion: Tiemo Wölken (S&D)
Rapporteur Wölken stated that ambitions for the maritime sector should be set higher, and that the scope of the Directive should be extended, in order to cover all international deliveries. He emphasised the extensive time period which is needed to address issues linked to the maritime sectors, particularly given the long lifetime of ships, which should therefore be decarbonised as quickly as possible, and highlighted the important role which wind technology could play in achieving this. He also mentioned that the provision of training in the use of new technologies should be introduced for those who need to adapt to new energy systems.
The representatives of Renew and of the Green stated that the goals which are currently in place for the maritime sector are insufficient, particularly when one considers the targets set by the overall FitFor55 strategy. Many of the rapporteurs shared the opinion that goals for methane and black carbon use reduction should be explicitly included in the Directive, however, the Commission stated that these were not included because the move towards cleaner energy would automatically and indirectly lead to a decrease in the usage, and that setting specific requirements for them would decrease flexibility.
Ensuring a level playing field for sustainable air transport
Rapporteur for the opinion: Nicolás González Casares (S&D)
The rapporteur noted that aviation is the only sector which is facing increasing emissions, due to its use of fossil fuels, and that goals should be set higher. In particular, he proposed that, by 2050, SAFs usage should reach 100% in the aviation sector, and that there should be a promotion of advanced biofuels (as defined in REDII). He suggests improving transparency, particularly for passengers, and also adapting short-haul flights, increasing their use of SAFs and innovative technologies.
Many of the rapporteurs shared the view that greater ambition for the aviation sector is necessary, supporting the idea that SAFs should be developed further. Many of the rapporteurs stated that more focus should be placed on the development of alternative routes and methods, such as high-speed trains. Nevertheless, the EPP and Renew rapporteurs shared their concern for the EU aviation industry, stating that it should not be penalised.
References Ciccarese, Lorenzo; Piera Pellegrino and Davide Pettenella. (2014) A new principle of the European Union forest policy: the cascading use of wood products. L’Italia Forestale e Montana. 69. 285-290. DOI: 10.4129/ifm.2014.5.01