Ursula von der Leyen often hears from critics that her politics are just a facade: big buzzwords, rarely anything behind them. As of this week, their policy has a new facade, and that is meant literally: the gigantic banner advertising the “Next Generation EU,” i.e. the 800 billion euro, was removed from the Berlaymont building, the seat of the EU Commission in Brussels Euro heavy corona reconstruction program. At this point, a new banner is now advertising “REPowerEU,” the €300 billion emergency program with which the EU wants to make itself independent of Russian power by 2030 at the latest energy. Where do you get the many billions to get rid of Putin? This is still unclear six months after the program was presented.
The largest part is transferred from the Corona pot to the energy pot – same money, new facade – whereby the distribution key between the 27 member countries is still disputed. The original criterion is the economic damage caused by the pandemic. Germany got off relatively lightly, but now has a lot of catching up to do to reduce its dependence on natural gas.
The changes mean that climate protection measures will be postponed
However, in order to get fresh money for the energy pot, he of all people has to climate protection bleed: The Commission is proposing to sell European industry additional certificates for the emission of CO₂ – an estimated 250 million tons – and thereby collect 20 billion euros. This seems absurd to climate protectors, especially since the program not only promotes renewable energies, but also fossil infrastructures: LNG terminals, for example, and even an oil pipeline to Hungary. The European Parliament is now mobilizing against this, apparently with a large majority of Christian Democrats, Greens, Social Democrats and Liberals.
Of the emissions trading, ETS for short, is the most important means of climate protection in the EU. Energy-intensive companies must purchase emission allowances for every tonne of CO₂ they release into the atmosphere. Parliament is not opposed to the fact that the ETS should provide 20 billion euros for “Repower” in an emergency – but the money should be raised through “frontloading”, i.e. by bringing forward: certificates that should be on sale from 2026 to 2030 , would therefore already be thrown onto the market in the period up to 2025. The Commission, on the other hand, had proposed removing the allowances from the “market stability reserve” in which excess pollution rights are parked.
Ultimately, “frontloading” also means that climate protection is postponed from now to later. But the total amount of emissions by 2030 will not increase, insists Michael Bloss, the green negotiator. “A great success for climate protection,” he says, “the integrity of emissions trading is preserved and companies have planning security.” What he also sees as a green negotiation success: A maximum of ten billion euros from “Repower” should be spent on fossil fuels – and no money that comes from emissions trading.
The climate politician Peter Liese from the CDU, who leads the negotiations in the environment committee, could have lived with the Commission’s proposal. What matters to him: All parties involved in the compromise would recognize that the economy needs relief in the current crisis when it comes to CO₂ costs. That will now be guaranteed: If more certificates come onto the market, the price per ton will drop in the trade. “Companies need air to breathe,” says Liese. He also points out that electricity prices also fall when CO₂ emissions cost less. He spoke of a “win-win-win situation” for everyone involved.
The compromise will be passed in the Environment Committee on Monday and should also find a large majority in the plenary. On this basis, the Parliament will negotiate with the Council of 27 Member States, which is likely to be heated. The idea is currently circulating in the Council of financing “Repower” primarily from the innovation fund, which is fed by the income from the ETS, and that each country should dispose of this money freely. Peter Liese and Michael Bloss agree that this is out of the question. The money is urgently needed at European level for the climate-friendly modernization of the economy.
All in all, there is “dynamics” in the Council in favor of his green position, believes Michael Bloss: “In the energy crisis we mustn’t cut off climate protection.” However, the struggle over the energy program is probably just a skirmish compared to the dispute over the law on the fundamental reform of emissions trading. Parliament wants to massively limit CO₂ emissions. The negotiations between Parliament and the Council have It’s only just begun, and there’s a lot of resistance, especially in Eastern European countries.The Polish government has indicated that emissions trading could be abolished entirely.