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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.
In spite of the difficult economic context and an increased competition in the global markets, the European pulp, paper and board industry remains a world leader and a net exporter as well as the provider of 1.5 million direct and indirect jobs in Europe.
EU markets have been fully open since January 2004, unlike some competitors in their home countries. 40% of EU paper and board exports face tariff barriers! The sector is seeking a level playing field for both its products and its raw materials through multilateral and bilateral negotiations and high level talks with EU trading partners. Free access to pulp and paper and board foreign markets, but also raw materials and energy is a must.
Fair competition is also vital to the European pulp, paper and board industry and its workers, who need to see unfair trade practices such as dumping and subsidies, protectionism and discriminatory measures fought. A strong set of trade defence tools is crucial to ensure, when necessary, the rapid implementation of efficient trade defence measures and restore a level playing field for our industry and workers. Strong support from the EU Commission is required in order to secure international trade rules and WTO obligations as well as bilateral agreements are well implemented by all EU trading partners and WTO members.
The opening of the foreign markets has to be achieved primarily through multilateral negotiations in WTO, by reflecting the recent developments that have seen emerging countries like China, Brazil or Indonesia turning into global industrial leaders.
As multilateral agreements require long negotiations and sustained efforts, a better access to foreign markets, raw materials and energy markets should be sought through the conclusion of ambitious bilateral trade agreement negotiations with a view to supporting the re-industrialisation of Europe and to promote the principles of fair trade. These negotiations should contribute to the suppression of tariff barriers as well as non-tariff barriers, and aim at regulatory convergence.
Plurilateral negotiations should also be encouraged as they can offer a pragmatic way to further liberalise trade while achieving other goals, such as the completion of ambitious climate change and environment protection targets. The European Social Partners in the pulp, paper and board sector are of the opinion that, due to their sustainable nature, all pulp, paper and board grades should be considered as environmental goods and therefore fully included in the environmental goods list currently being negotiated.
Pulp, paper and board are based on renewable raw materials originating from sustainable sources and are recyclable. They contribute directly and indirectly to environmental protection, climate action, green growth and sustainable development. They are manufactured by an industry that has substantially reduced its footprint on the environment, while reaching high social standards.
At the core of the bio economy, is the production of not only the original bio-based product - paper and board, but also new and innovative products that can substitute for fossil fuel-based products through the efficient use of renewable raw materials.
Allowing the European pulp, paper and board industry to compete on a level playing field at global level should be the aim of EU trade strategy as it is the best way to secure EU’s competitiveness as well as investors’ long-term commitment to Europe and create jobs and growth!
This article was written by Petri Vasara from Pöyry Management Consulting. Pöyry is one of our Partners. Read more about them here.
Our industry faces exciting times ahead. The world needs a ‘recarbonisation revolution’ of global material flows as we must increase biomass and decrease non-renewable materials such as metals and minerals in the movement of global trade. Additionally, recarbonisation requires moving from fossil carbon to biocarbon. The re-carbonisation revolution offers a simple way to define the bioeconomy: re-carbonise materials, de-carbonise energy.
Society’s concern with climate change has shaped our language to always refer to “decarbonisation” policies and attempts to create a “low carbon economy”. Whilst these sentiments are honourable in their intention, they neglect a key truth – that carbon is the basis of life. The only area where the removal of carbon should be focused is in fossil-based carbon fuels. Outside of fuel - in a vast range of other materials - carbon is needed in the form of biomass to create a truly renewable and sustainable loop.
What does a recarbonisation revolution mean for our industry?
Imagine a solution where we recarbonise just 1% of the market of some key global material flows. The packaging market in 2013 was worth 590 billion euros alone with plastics and fibre producing 220 and 215 billion euros in turnover respectively. Therefore, if 1% of the packaging market which is currently created from fossil plastics was moved to biopackaging, it would equate to 6 billion euros in turnover.
Likewise, plastics correspond to about 300 million tons, meaning that moving 1% from fossil plastics to bioplastics would represent about 3.5 billion euros of new biobusiness. Finally, imagine that 1% of the global volume of fossil fuels is taken and substituted with biomass, and that biomass is processed further in the forest industry – this would mean a green recarbonisation of a part of the world’s materials flows. This could result in an estimated 30 billion euros of annual new biobusiness.
When combined these three 1% substitutions would provide an estimated 40 billion euros per annum to a new sustainable bioeconomy. The calculations above can be debated of course, but they are indicative of the potential size of the opportunity.
Whereas in the past this level of change may have been implausible, new developments in technology and materials sciences have made it both possible and desirable. Four materials - Lignin, sugar, nanocellulose and graphene - stand out as examples of where recarbonisation can be truly effective. The first three are carbon-based and graphene is pure carbon meaning they have the potential to radically change the materials world.
As well as being technically possible, there is also a demand for these solutions from some of the world’s global brands such as IKEA, Toyota, Procter & Gamble and Coca-Cola. All have their own reasons for pushing biomaterials, both for functional or cost-related reasons. For example, biocomponents in cars weigh and cost less than metal or companies view it as a way of building brand image.
No revolution is easy, and the ‘recarbonisation revolution’ is no exception, but there is scope for many winners. Whilst alliances across sectors are not yet the norm, a transformation of the value chain must and is taking place. Companies operating in our industry must think ahead and align to benefit from this transformational shift.
We are only at the beginning of the recarbonisation journey and in many applications plastic is still much more competitive. However, even achieving a mere one per cent of the market would be a business worth billions of euros; the foundations are solid for this to happen and companies and brands from different sectors are already seriously looking at a biobased future. This is a positive sign for us all as the recarbonisation journey gets underway.
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.