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Statement in view of the Environment Council on 20 June 2016
As a market-based system, emissions trading has the best potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the lowest-cost way, and to create a market signal to drive low-carbon investment. The undersigned associations support the principles of the EU ETS as the cornerstone mechanism to deliver cost-efficient emission reductions in the EU while at the same time securing a global level playing field for industry.
But, for this to be achievable, we need to ensure that the EU ETS works for every covered sector. We must make sure that the energy-intensive, carbon-intensive and/or trade-exposed industries, operating in a highly competitive global market get the right kind of support to enable them to continue to reduce emissions within the EU. For the power sector, which needs significant levels of investment to secure and decarbonise the electricity supply, we must ensure a carbon price that provides a meaningful signal towards the sector’s low carbon investment decisions today and tomorrow.
The post 2020 ETS reform must focus on achieving long-lasting, holistic and effective changes to the system in order to instil confidence in the market. An essential element of the reform is to provide long-term predictability and legal stability to industry and investors, and to avoid the quick-fixes and piecemeal approach we have seen in the recent past.
In this respect, the European Commission’s proposal to set, in the ETS Directive itself, the ratio between the shares of allowances for auctioning and those for free allocation is an element of certainty. However, the rules should ensure the right balance between ensuring liquidity with regard to the available auctioning volumes and providing the necessary volume of free allowances on the level of best performers in order to avoid carbon and investment leakage.
The undersigned associations are committed to make the reform of the EU ETS a success. But it must be a success for all the covered sectors. As representatives of major industrial sectors, we will remain firm on this point as this will be essential to develop and strengthen the industrial value chain across Europe as well as European industry’s international competitiveness.
This article appeared in the Parliament Magazine issue no 435, 30 May 2016
Aristotle often used the reduction ad absurdum to show the untenable consequences one would ensue from accepting the item at issue. If he was alive and would hear about the Tiered Approach in the ETS review, we would probably have engaged in the following dialogue:
Aristotle: What is the purpose of proposing a Tiered Approach?
N.Rega: To avoid the so-called cross-sectoral correction factor (CSCF) – a uniformed cut in free credits allocated to each industrial installation, should the total demand excess the total availability of free credits.
How would a Tiered Approach work? Sectors are clustered in different groups, and receive a different level of free credits. How would sectors be clustered?
On the basis of the different degree of the sectors’ exposure to the risk of carbon leakage, whereby industrial production would relocate outside the EU due to climate policies.
And how could different exposure levels to such risk be evaluated?
For every sector we should assess the impact of carbon pricing in and outside the EU, the carbon intensity of EU and non-EU production, specific trade patterns, products’ price elasticity, and so-forth.
Have any of these analyses been used in the proposed tiered approach?
Not really. Sectors have not been compared with their respective non-EU sectors. Instead, they have just been all lined up and assumed that the higher a sector strikes in terms of combined carbon and trade intensity, the higher it is exposed.
This is counter-intuitive: when a sector reduces its carbon intensity, shouldn’t it increase its exposure to the risk of carbon leakage?
Indeed, as relocation outside the EU in countries with less stringent carbon constraints would then increase global carbon emissions.
So far, the methodology behind the Tiered Approach doesn’t look very sound-based.
Indeed, one could argue that it is rather arbitrary and discriminatory.
Could it be legally challenged?
In case of rigid boundaries in defining the carbon leakage groups, companies not receiving the highest level of free credits will most likely go to court.
Would these companies have a chance to win?
Most likely, given the flawed methodology being used.
What would happen then?
Sectors would retroactively receive additional free credits at the highest level.
So, the risk of triggering the CSCF won’t be avoided.
And what if the boundaries were not be rigid but rather flexible?
In this case, sectors initially allocated in some clusters would still be allowed to prove their higher need for protection, via the so-called qualitative assessment.
But if sectors will be granted additional free credits, where would these come from?
Like in past cases, the Commission would have to take a relevant amount of free credits upfront and park them aside, in case all sectors would apply and receive full protection.
Does it mean that sectors will be deemed to receive 100% free credits?
Yes, as allowances potentially needed would not be allocated.
So, also in this case, the risk of triggering the CSCF won’t be reduced.
Indeed. Additionally, a generalised use of the qualitative assessment would exponentially increase both the administrative burden and the lack of transparency in the decision-making process.
Thanks to Aristotle, we have come to a straight-forward conclusion: the Tiered Approach defeats its original purpose, namely to reduce the risk of triggering the CSCF. With additional drawbacks impacting the stability, predictability and transparency of regulatory framework.
A better way to cost-effectively reduce industry’s demand for free credits is to focus instead on developing rules to stimulate and reward investments in low-carbon technologies. In this respect, tiering does neither. Something that even Aristotle would agree upon.
Strong industry concerns on the ITRE Draft Opinion on the EU-ETS Reform post-2020 and other thought experiments putting industries at risk of carbon leakage
Tiering is not the solution
The undersigned energy-intensive industries express their strong concerns regarding the proposal to introduce “tiered approaches” to carbon leakage protection, as introduced in the ITRE Draft Opinion.
According to all forecasts, “tiering” is not needed.
All forecasts, including the Commission’s Impact Assessment, predict that a shortage of free allowances is highly unlikely during phase IV of the ETS. A shortage can be as good as excluded if the proposed share of allowances to be auctioned were properly calculated. Those 700 million ‘unused’ allowances of phase III (that were earmarked for free allocation but remained unallocated due to business closures or a lack of new entrants) should remain available and within reach if needed for production, recovery and growth during 2021-2030. Thus, the ETS reform can deliver the agreed emission reductions cost-effectively, encourage best performance through safeguarding full and effective carbon leakage protection to the benchmark level. There is no need for exposing parts of EU industry to undue carbon costs.
The ITRE Draft Opinion proposes to expose a lot of industrial sectors to the risk of carbon leakage.
Burdening companies with undue carbon costs by cutting free allocation would divert resources from modernising and upgrading industrial infrastructure, thus exacerbating the risk of investment leakage to countries with less stringent climate policies. This does not send a positive signal to European
industry to accompany its decarbonisation investments and undermines our faith in, and support for, the ETS as a cost-effective means of reducing carbon emissions.
“Tiering” is based on theoretical assumptions and distorts the internal market
The proposed tiering has no environmental or economic justification and is based on flawed assumptions (“cost pass-through”) of unpredictable market dynamics. It reserves free allowances for some sectors at the expense of others. It goes against the principle set in the October European Council Conclusions that best performing companies in ETS carbon leakage sectors should not bear further carbon costs. Indeed, tiering would ensure that even best performers in most sectors would bear significant carbon costs and expose them to carbon and investment leakage.
Statistical indicators vary - sometimes greatly - with time and depend on many factors (market conditions, company structures, exposure to international trade, etc.). Hence, the setting of thresholds would be arbitrary and would risk not reflecting future needs and leakage risks of the sectors.
As a result, we call on the Members of the ITRE Committee to react strongly to the Draft Opinion, so that the ETS reform delivers full and effective carbon leakage protection without the need for arbitrary discrimination. Jobs in one sector are neither more nor less important than those in other sectors.
We call for an approach based on realistic benchmarks, allocation based on more recent production data and an adequate reserve that ensures full allocation to benchmark levels. Fairness and solidity should become key principles of policy making. We ask you to create a framework that gives all sectors an equal opportunity to compete and thrive in Europe, and not to pick certain sectors to stay in Europe.
On 26 April the ITRE rapporteur published the draft opinion on the Commission proposal to review the Emission Trading System. While the report includes some positive proposals, other aspects still need to be improved. In some cases, some proposed solutions would need to be thoroughly thought through, as they would have the unintended consequence of negatively impacting industrial competitiveness and destabilising the regulatory framework.
The following five aspects are of primary importance:
1. Availability of free allowances for industry
On the positive side, the report seeks to increase the availability of free credits for new entrants and production increases. On the other hand, the report does not address the fundamental question of how to ensure enough free credits to meet industry’s needs.
CEPI proposal: as future industry demand for free credits is subject to many uncertainties, any firm decision taken now will likely result in either excess of unused free credits or an excessive shortage of these. We would thus suggest focusing on:
- Re-balancing the share free credits/auctioning to 47.5% /52.5%, to take into consideration free credits originally allocated to industry but unused due to the economic crisis.
- Stimulating and rewarding investments in low-carbon technologies: this would be the most cost-effective way to meet the free credits cap while improving industry’s competitiveness.
- Defining in the legislation a process whereby the availability of free credits is constantly monitored and, in case of upcoming shortage, the legislator is called to take the most informed decision, exploring all available options.
2. Carbon Leakage
The proposal from the rapporteur is simply unacceptable. The motivation that such a “tiered” approach would support the “sectors in greatest need” is arbitrary and lacks any evidence that such a system would target “those sectors genuinely and most exposed to carbon leakage”. Such a discriminatory approach, if approved, would inevitably entail legal challenges in courts, leading to an unstable and unpredictable regulatory framework. Moreover, it would increase the risk of carbon leakage for most sectors in the economy, putting millions of jobs across industries and local communities at risk.
CEPI proposal: keep the Commission proposal.
3. Benchmarks update
The proposal from the rapporteur is heading in the right direction. Building on the Commission proposal, it stresses the need to use real data and tries to accommodate the need of those sectors moving at a slower pace in emission reductions.
On the other hand, the slower reduction pace should be enlarged to any type of emission, not only to “unavoidable process emissions”. Moreover, the proposal does not address the risk for a sector of remaining “trapped” into one reduction pattern, independently of technological progress. The report also does not address rules for assessing progress in installations not covered by product benchmarks (so-called fall-back approaches), which are responsible for one third of industrial emissions.
- Build on the rapporteur’s proposed amendments.
- Assess progress in comparison to latest benchmark value set in the legislation.
- Broaden the 0.3% category to any type of source of emissions.
- Specify in the legislation the rules for assessing progress in installations not included in product benchmarks (fall-back), based on energy intensity improvements.
4. Indirect carbon costs passed on in electricity prices
Although we strongly support the need to reduce the impact of carbon costs in electricity prices, the proposals will have little or no impact in this respect. This is because most industrial installations purchase electricity on the wholesale market. Differing levels of compensation will not impact the way the electricity market operates, thus the way carbon costs are passed through in electricity prices. Suggesting that no compensation should be paid if the carbon price is less than 15 euros would expose industrial sectors to real costs in the short to medium term and is based upon the same flawed “tiering” approach proposed in the carbon leakage policy area.
The proposals would therefore increase the carbon cost exposure for industries while not addressing the shortcomings of the current state aid regime, namely the lack of compensation in all Member States and the unpredictability of the rules. It should also be noted that, in some countries, the lack of compensation for indirect costs coupled with no free credits for electricity produced and consumed on-site (as in the case of CHP) is already leading to up to 40% shortage in compensation for on-site emissions.
CEPI proposal: the ETS review needs to ensure 100% compensation for both direct and indirect carbon costs throughout the whole trading period, at benchmark level.
5. Innovation Fund
We welcome the rapporteur’s attempt to increase and facilitate access to the financing of innovative projects in the industry. We also welcome the attempt to clarify the parameters already upfront in the text of the directive; this will accelerate the process by timely releasing the first funding opportunities.
CEPI proposal: build on the rapporteur’s initiative. Strengthen provisions on the share of financing support, ensuring all industrial sectors can really benefit from this opportunity.
The signatories (see below), energy-intensive industries express concerns regarding the so called “tiered approach” to carbon leakage protection under the EU ETS
The tiered approach1 would reserve free allowances for some sectors at the expense of others. It goes against the principle set in the October European Council Conclusions that best performing companies in ETS carbon leakage sectors should not bear further carbon costs. Indeed, it would ensure that even best performers in most sectors would bear significant carbon costs and expose them deliberately to carbon and investment leakage.
The proposed tiering has no environmental or economic justification and is based on flawed assumptions (“cost pass-through”) of in reality unpredictable market dynamics. Depriving sectors of carbon leakage provisions would not deliver decarbonisation through investment and innovation. Moreover, it could well prove to have been entirely unnecessary. All forecasts, including the Commission’s Impact Assessment, predict that there will be sufficient allowances available to ensure full free allocation to benchmark levels at least until 2025: and there are other proposals for ETS reform that would deliver full and effective carbon leakage protection without the need for arbitrary discrimination.
To that end, we continue to support an approach based on realistic benchmarks, allocation based on more recent production data and an adequate reserve that ensures full allocation to benchmark levels. The proposed share of allowances to be auctioned shall also be recalculated downwards, as analysis of the EC proposal shows, it does not properly include the number of allowances which were to be given out for free (i.a. unallocated and left-over NER allowances).
In the circumstances, the “tiered approach” would introduce an unnecessary and unfair discrimination between sectors. Fairness and solidity should become key principles of policy making. Jobs in one sector are neither more nor less important than those in other sectors. The signatories fully share and support the BusinessEurope views on tiered approach as expressed in a statement on April 14th.
We ask you to create a framework that gives all sectors an equal opportunity to compete and thrive in Europe, and not to pick certain sectors to stay in Europe. It would undermine our industry’s faith in, and support for, the ETS as a means of reducing carbon emissions.
For further information please contact Peter Botschek, Cefic Director Energy & HSSE, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
1 i.e. as presented in a Non-paper on a Tiered Carbon Leakage List in Phase IV of EU ETS (authored by France, the United Kingdom)