Briton put at helm of European Parliament's carbon debate

Reuters News
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Posted: Sep 16, 2015 11:26 AM

By Barbara Lewis and Susanna Twidale

BRUSSELS/LONDON (Reuters) - A British Conservative was picked on Wednesday to steer a major piece of climate law through the European Parliament, after deputies steered clear of Polish candidates opposed to carbon trading reforms that would penalize their coal-reliant country.

Carbon market analysts said Ian Duncan was preferable to rivals from Poland's Law and Justice party, which has threatened to pull Poland from the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) if it wins an October election.

Poland has been at the vanguard of those seeking to prevent reforms that would strengthen carbon prices and increase the cost of burning coal, the most polluting of the fossil fuels.

Interim reforms have pushed carbon prices on the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) to around 8 euros ($9) per tonne, up from a record low of less than three euros in April 2013.

But the price is not enough to drive a long-term shift towards lower carbon fuel and the European Commission in July proposed much deeper reforms.

EU rules share across the Parliament's political groupings leadership of different pieces of legislation, which can be changed radically during parliamentary debates. Finalizing new law can take around two years.

"We need to strike the right balance between protecting industry and jobs, and meeting our climate change obligations," Duncan said in a statement.

"I don't think those goals are mutually exclusive, but I do know that the EU ETS as it stands is not delivering either."

Thomson Reuters Point Carbon analyst Marcus Ferdinand said the choice of Duncan was evidence the ECR sought "a constructive, close-to-reality debate", adding that Duncan could build support across other parties.

Britain advocates a strong carbon price as the means to bring about the lowest cost transition to a less carbon-intensive economy. It has introduced a carbon tax of 18.08 pounds ($27.95) per tonne to supplement the weak ETS.

($1 = 0.6470 pounds)

($1 = 0.8880 euros)

(Editing by Jon Boyle)