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Informal Environment and Energy Councils

Volume 543: debated on Monday 30 April 2012

I represented the United Kingdom at the climate change aspects of the EU informal Environment Council and at the informal Energy Council in Denmark on 19 April 2012.

I attended the lunchtime discussion at the informal Environment Council on the future of the EU emissions trading scheme. There was broad agreement that while the ETS is delivering the required level of carbon emissions to meet the EU’s 2020 target, it is failing to deliver the necessary investment signals in low carbon. The low ETS price means that there is now a much reduced incentive to invest in low-carbon technology and infrastructure, meaning a risk of future lock-in to high carbon. There was almost universal support for Commission action to resolve these issues.

At the informal Energy Council, discussion on the first day focused on the energy efficiency directive. The presidency outlined the state of play of negotiations. Most Ministers expressed support for the latest presidency text and for the presidency in their efforts to secure agreement by the end of June. I and a number of other member states argued that the directive must be ambitious to ensure that it delivers real and additional energy savings.

The second day of the council (when the UK was represented by a DECC official) focused on the “2050 Energy Roadmap”. The presidency outlined the “no regrets” option of greater energy efficiency, more renewable energy and new flexible infrastructure. Commissioner Oettinger outlined the main features of the EU’s transition to a low-carbon economy: the need for regulatory predictability to encourage investment; a decarbonised energy sector; and flexibility for member states within a wider framework. He outlined his plan for a 12 to 18 month debate on the post-2020 regulatory structure for energy. In a wide-ranging discussion, most member states supported the “no regrets” option. The presidency plans to ask for agreement on conclusions on the energy road map at the June Energy Council.