Blog Post

European political preferences for decarbonisation

On 8 July the European Parliament  finally voted to introduce a mechanism to stabilise the European emissions trading system (ETS). What can a detailed analysis of the voting results tell us about European enthusiasm for ETS?

By: Date: July 13, 2015 Topic: Energy & Climate

On 8 July the European Parliament – after a year-long saga of failed committee votes and rejected reports – finally voted to introduce a mechanism to stabilise the European emissions trading system (ETS). The Market Stability Reserve (MSR) adopted by the European Parliament is a measure to temporarily adjust the supply of emission allowances in order to boost the carbon price. As I argued back in 2013, I think the mechanism itself is inappropriate for ensuring an investible carbon price. The main value of the tool is thus not the mechanism itself, but the political signal of support from the European Parliament and the European Council for the ETS.

It is therefore interesting to look into the voting results – the most visible political signal. The main observation is that the carbon price did not markedly move after the European Parliament strongly voted in favour of the MSR (495 MEPs voted in favour, 158 against, with 49 abstentions). This signal was evidently anticipated, as there was almost no reaction on the day. Indeed, it was not strong enough: emission allowances are still trading at significantly lower prices than initially envisaged.  This weakness of the political signal might be partially explained by the complicated parliamentary history of the MSR.

Emission allowance price:

The second interesting observation is that there is a strong positive correlation between countries’ per-GDP emissions and votes against the MSR. For example, most MEPs from Poland or Bulgaria (which are among the least carbon-efficient economies) voted against the MSR.

National votes against per-GDP emissions:

A third observation is that some fairly carbon-efficient member states such as France, Italy and the United Kingdom produced about twice as many ‘no’ votes than one would expect from their carbon-intensity. In fact, a large share of the ‘no’ votes came from MEPs representing parties such as the Front National in France (21 of 25 noes), UKIP in the UK (all 19 noes) and Movimento 5 Stelle in Italy (15 of the 20 noes). This might be explained by these parties general opposition to any European-level instruments.

Percentage of ‘no’ votes by party group:

In conclusion, the MSR vote did indeed deliver a political signal in favour of emissions trading in Europe. However, despite the strong positive result, the fine details are less encouraging.

Appendix – Results by country:

Appendix – European Parliament Political Groups:

  • S&D: Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament
  • GUE/NGL: Confederal Group of the European United Left – Nordic Green Left
  • EPP: Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats)
  • ALDE: Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe
  • Greens/EFA: Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance
  • ECR: European Conservatives and Reformists Group
  • EFD: Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy Group
  • ENF: Europe of Nations and Freedom
  • NI: Non-attached Members

Excellent research assistance by Augustin Lagarde is gratefully acknowledged.


Republishing and referencing

Bruegel considers itself a public good and takes no institutional standpoint. Anyone is free to republish and/or quote this post without prior consent. Please provide a full reference, clearly stating Bruegel and the relevant author as the source, and include a prominent hyperlink to the original post.

View comments
Read article More by this author

Opinion

The UN climate conference in Katowice: A message from the European capital of coal

Following the COP24 climate talks in Poland, Simone Tagliapietra reviews the arguments for and challenges to decarbonisation.

By: Simone Tagliapietra Topic: Energy & Climate, Global Economics & Governance Date: December 12, 2018
Read article More by this author

Blog Post

Les gilets jaunes

For weeks, protesters wearing yellow motorist vests have taken to the streets of Paris to protest against the rising price of fuel. They have since taken on a wider role, and are seen as symbols of the growing popular discontent with President Macron. Silvia Merler reviews scholars’ opinions about this movement.

By: Silvia Merler Topic: Energy & Climate, European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: December 10, 2018
Read article More by this author

Podcast

Podcast

Deep Focus: Balancing distributional inequalities of climate policies

Bruegel fellow Georg Zachmann talks through a Bruegel Blueprint he has co-authored, looking into the potential distributional effects of climate policies, in another episode of the Deep Focus series.

By: The Sound of Economics Topic: Energy & Climate Date: December 7, 2018
Read about event More on this topic

Past Event

Past Event

Environmental and economic effects of the EU ETS

What is the impact of the EU ETS on carbon emissions and economic performance of regulated companies?

Speakers: Sander de Bruyn, Antoine Dechezleprêtre, Beatriz Yordi Aguirre and Georg Zachmann Topic: Energy & Climate Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels Date: December 6, 2018
Read article Download PDF More by this author

External Publication

A new strategy for EU-Turkey energy cooperation

Cooperation over energy and climate issues could be one of the components of the EU-Turkey Positive Agenda. Simone Tagliapietra proposes a new strategy for EU-Turkey energy cooperation, which envisions a shift of focus from gas and electricity to fields such as renewables and nuclear energy.

By: Simone Tagliapietra Topic: Energy & Climate, Global Economics & Governance Date: December 5, 2018
Read article More on this topic

Opinion

What the "gilets jaunes" movement tells us about environment and climate policies

Simone Tagliapietra and Georg Zachmann write on the climate governance lesson European governments should learn from the "gilets jaunes" experience.

By: Simone Tagliapietra and Georg Zachmann Topic: Energy & Climate Date: November 30, 2018
Read about event More on this topic

Past Event

Past Event

Distributional effects of climate policies

How do we design climate policies to minimize adverse distributional effects?

Speakers: Elena Jachia, Elena Verdolini and Georg Zachmann Topic: Energy & Climate Location: Centro Congressi Fondazione Cariplo, Via Romagnosi, 8, 20121 Milano MI, Italy Date: November 14, 2018
Read article Download PDF More on this topic

Blueprint

The distributional effects of climate policies

The distributional consequences are likely to be a major driver of future climate policies. Policymakers will not accept forceful decarbonisation policies if they lead to visibly increasing inequality within their societies. The distributive effects of climate policies need to be addressed. This report provides a selective review of recent academic literature and experience on the distributional effects of climate policies.

By: Grégory Claeys, Gustav Fredriksson and Georg Zachmann Topic: Energy & Climate Date: November 14, 2018
Read article Download PDF More on this topic

External Publication

Learning for decarbonisation

This external publication, put together in the framework of the COP21 RIPPLES Consortium, makes the case that national decarbonisation strategies should put a special emphasis on the benefits of learning. Accordingly, countries should start early to deploy and develop low-carbon technologies, concentrate on promising technologies, exploit individual regional strength and bear in mind the opportunities and constraints of the national innovation system.

By: Alexander Roth and Georg Zachmann Topic: Energy & Climate Date: November 8, 2018
Read article Download PDF More on this topic More by this author

External Publication

The impact of global decarbonisation policies and technological improvements on oil and gas producing countries in the Middle East and North Africa

Simone Tagliapietra contributed to the IEMED Mediterranean Yearbook 2018 with a chapter on the impact of decarbonisation policies on oil and gas producing countries in the MENA region.

By: Simone Tagliapietra Topic: Energy & Climate Date: October 3, 2018
Read article More on this topic

External Publication

Energy in Africa: Challenges and Opportunities

Bruegel fellow Simone Tagliapietra co-authored a new book on energy in Africa.

By: Manfred Hafner, Simone Tagliapietra and Lucia de Strasser Topic: Energy & Climate Date: September 5, 2018
Read about event

Past Event

Past Event

Bruegel Annual Meetings 2018

The 2018 Annual Meetings will be held on 3-4 September and will feature sessions on European and global economic governance, as well as finance, energy and innovation.

Speakers: Maria Åsenius, Richard E. Baldwin, Carl Bildt, Barbara Botos, Maria Demertzis, Benjamin Denis, Lowri Evans, Mariya Gabriel, Svend E. Hougaard Jensen, Joanne Kellermann, Jörg Kukies, Emmanuel Lagarrigue, Philippe Lespinard, Rachel Lomax, Dominique Moïsi, Jean Pierre Mustier, Ana Palacio, Jean Pisani-Ferry, Lucrezia Reichlin, Norbert Röttgen, André Sapir, Johan Van Overtveldt, Martin Sandbu, Margrethe Vestager, Reinhilde Veugelers, Nicolas Véron, Thomas Wieser, Guntram B. Wolff and Georg Zachmann Topic: Energy & Climate, European Macroeconomics & Governance, Finance & Financial Regulation, Global Economics & Governance, Innovation & Competition Policy Location: Brussels Comic Strip Museum, Rue des Sables 20, 1000 Brussels Date: September 3, 2018
Load more posts