Belgium: Cembureau, the European cement association, has lobbied members of the European Parliament with its opinion that the European Union (EU) Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) must maintain free allowances at the level of best-performers in order to achieve real emission reductions whilst maintaining a competitive industry in Europe. It expressed its views ahead of a scheduled vote in the plenary session of the Parliament in February 2017. One of its key demands was that fairness should be a key principle of policy making and that jobs in one sector are just as important as those in other sectors.
Cembureau called for the proposal to amend the EU ETS to ensure that all energy-intensive industries are on the carbon leakage list and all installations receive a free allocation based on ‘ambitious but realistic’ benchmarks, and benefit from free allocation based on actual production. It wants a sufficient number of free allocations for energy intensive industries at risk of carbon leakage to be made available, hence the auction share should not be higher than 52%. It also wants no further burden to be imposed on EU-ETS sectors. The 43% reduction objective and the 2.2% linear reduction factor for phase IV should not be further increased. Lastly, it has asked for support for innovation focus on energy intensive industries with an extension to cover the whole range of low carbon technologies including industrial carbon capture and utilisation (CCU). The Innovation Fund should be fully financed from the auctioning share.
In response to an amendment made by the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety committee (ENVI) the cement association said that it did not believe that this proposal could work. Its main concerns were: that introducing such a mechanism with a consequential loss of free allowances could create legal uncertainty and hamper further investments by the cement sector in Europe; that it would be impossible to measure the CO2 performance of third country producers; an overall lack of clarity as to how such scheme would operate; serious concerns about World Trade Organisation (WTO) compatibility; that application to a few sectors would only lead to discrimination in the downstream market where cement competes with other building materials (steel, glass, wood, asphalt) that are not subject to such a scheme; and that the suggested scheme would lead to a competitive disadvantage for European cement producers on export markets where local cement players are not subject to similar CO2 constraints.
Cembureau also used the opportunity to highlight some of the research projects the local sector is undertaking to improve its environmental performance, reduce CO2 emissions and improve energy efficiency.