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EU Parliaments votes to place a carbon price on imports from less climate-ambitious countries

To raise global climate ambition and prevent carbon leakage, the European Union must place a carbon price on imports from less climate-ambitious countries, say Environment MEPs.

The Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety adopted a resolution on a WTO-compatible EU carbon border adjustment mechanism (CBAM) with 58 votes for, 8 against and 10 abstentions.

The resolution underlines that the EU’s increased ambition on climate change must not lead to carbon leakage as global climate efforts will not benefit if EU production is just moved to non-EU countries that have less ambitious emissions rules.

MEPs, therefore, have supported the introduction of a WTO-compatible CBAM to place a carbon price on imports of certain goods from outside the EU, if these countries are not ambitious enough about climate change. This would create an incentive for EU and non-EU trade industries to decarbonise in line with the Paris Agreement objectives.

“The CBAM is a great opportunity to reconcile climate, industry, employment, resilience, sovereignty and relocation issues,” said Parliament rapporteur Yannick Jadot after the vote. “It is a major political and democratic test for the EU, which must stop being naïve and impose the same carbon price on products, whether they are produced in or outside the EU, to ensure the most polluting sectors also take part in fighting climate change and innovate towards zero carbon. This will give us the best chance of remaining below the 1.5°C warming limit, whilst also pushing our trading partners to be equally ambitious in order to enter the EU market. Parliament is leading the way and we expect the same level of ambition from the Commission and member states.”

MEPs underlined that it should be designed with the sole aim of pursuing climate objectives and a global level playing field and not be misused as a tool to enhance protectionism.

The CBAM should be part of a broader EU industrial strategy and cover all imports of products and commodities under the EU ETS. MEPs add that by 2023 and following an impact assessment, it should cover the power sector and energy-intensive industrial sectors like cement, steel, aluminium, oil refinery, paper, glass, chemicals and fertilisers, which continue to receive substantial free allocations and still represent 94 per cent of EU industrial emissions.

To prevent carbon leakage, carbon pricing under the CBAM should be linked to the price of EU allowances under the EU ETS, they add.

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