Industry steps up lobbying ahead of bumper EU climate votes


By Kate Abnett

BRUSSELS, June 6 (Reuters) – European Union lawmakers have
been inundated by lobbyists ahead of votes this week on more
ambitious EU climate change policies, with some industries
urging them to scale back the proposals.

The European Parliament is set to confirm its position on a
raft of proposals to cut planet-warming emissions faster this
decade, ahead of negotiations with EU countries on final laws.

Among the measures are an upgrade of Europe’s carbon market,
a planned tariff to impose CO2 costs on imported goods, and an
effective ban on new combustion engine car sales in the bloc
from 2035.

Emails to EU lawmakers, seen by Reuters, show a last-minute
lobbying push from industries unhappy with positions approved by
parliament’s environment committee and up for a vote by the full
assembly this week.

“We are overwhelmed by requests and solicitations from the
lobbies,” Green EU lawmaker Marie Toussaint said.

A flashpoint is the committee’s plan to speed up the
phase-out of the free CO2 permits the EU gives industries to
help them compete with foreign rivals that do not pay for carbon
emissions and discourage industries from moving to regions with
weaker climate policies. It proposes to replace them by 2030
with a carbon border adjustment mechanism (CBAM) – a new levy on
imports of carbon-heavy goods like cement, steel and
fertilisers.

The European Commission, which drafts EU policies, had
proposed a 2036 phase-out and steel industry association EUROFER
last week sent lawmakers a statement warning against bringing
the date forward.

Signed by 50 CEOs and published online, it urged them to
avoid further scaling back of the current system “until the CBAM
has proven its effectiveness and a solution for exports is in
place.”

The EU says free permits must go when its new carbon border
charge kicks in to avoid breaching World Trade Organization
rules by giving European companies “double” protection.

Higher CO2 costs are a key tool in the EU’s plans to fight
climate change, by giving businesses a financial incentive to
cut emissions. While already-soaring EU carbon prices have hiked
costs for polluters in recent years, they have also raised
billions of euros for national governments’ budgets.

Many industries want to keep their free permits for longer,
however. Another statement sent to lawmakers by energy-intensive
industries including EUROFER, Cefic and Cembureau also warned
against cutting them faster. EUROFER will co-host a “dinner
debate” for lawmakers on Monday to present its position ahead of
the assembly votes.

A EUROFER spokesperson said Europe’s steel firms support EU
climate goals and have 60 low-carbon projects underway, but
accelerating free permits’ phase-out would boost their carbon
costs, leaving them with less to invest in decarbonisation.

Farming industry group Copa-Cogeca also wrote to lawmakers,
warning that the environment committee’s plan was “too
ambitious” and would put an “additional burden” on agriculture.

Copa-Cogeca said a faster introduction of the border carbon
levy would further hike prices of imported fertilisers, which
have soared in recent months amid surging gas and raw materials
costs.

Other emails showed auto lobby groups urging lawmakers to
oppose plans to end polluting car sales in 2035, while airport
groups warned against proposals to hike CO2 costs for flights.

Jytte Guteland, who was parliament’s negotiator on the EU’s
2030 emissions-cutting target, urged colleagues to keep in mind
voters calling for faster action on climate change.

“Society would prefer that we do more for climate,” she
said.

With some lawmakers still undecided, EU officials said the
vote results were uncertain.

(Reporting by Kate Abnett, additional reporting by Victoria
Waldersee; Editing by John Chalmers and Tomasz Janowski)
((Kate.Abnett@thomsonreuters.com;))

Keywords: CLIMATE CHANGE/EU LOBBYING (PIX)

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