European Scrutiny Committee Contents


15 Monitoring and reporting of emissions and climate change information

(33456)

17549/11

+ ADDs 1-2

COM(11) 789

Draft Regulation on a mechanism for monitoring and reporting greenhouse gas emissions and for reporting other information at national and Union level relevant to climate change

Legal baseArticle 192(1) TFEU; co-decision; QMV
DepartmentEnergy and Climate Change
Basis of considerationMinister's letter of 20 November 2012
Previous Committee ReportsHC 428-xlvii (2010-12), chapter 9 (18 January 2012) and HC 428-liii (2010-12), chapter 3 (7 March 2012)
To be discussed in CouncilSee para 15.14 below
Committee's assessmentPolitically important
Committee's decisionCleared

Background

15.1 Decision No 280/2004/EC established a means of monitoring by source emissions of greenhouse gases; of evaluating Member States' progress in meeting their obligations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Kyoto Protocol; of implementing the reporting requirements under those two instruments; and of ensuring the timeliness, completeness, accuracy, consistency, comparability and transparency of reporting by the EU and Member States to the UNFCCC secretariat.

15.2 However, the Commission says that experience has identified areas where significant improvements could be made, and that there is also a need to step up action to mitigate the increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases, to meet the commitments made under the UNFCCC at the Copenhagen and Cancun Conferences, and to give effect domestically to the EU Effort Sharing Decision[80] (406/2009/EC) adopted as part of the Climate and Energy Package within the Europe 2020 strategy.

15.3 It therefore proposed in November 2011 that Decision No 280/2004/EC should be replaced by this draft Regulation, which would:

  • expand the monitoring and reporting of the EU Effort Sharing Decision, of carbon dioxide emissions from maritime transport, of auctioning revenues under the EU's Emissions Trading System (ETS), of adaptation measures, and of other information required to support future EU climate change policy formulation and assessment;
  • introduce a new requirement for Member States and the Commission to implement a low-carbon development strategy, setting out how commitments under the Effort Sharing Decision will be met, and how long-term emissions and removals will be achieved;
  • establish clearer requirements for maintaining inventory systems for reporting emissions, and introduce additional requirements for reporting data covering land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF) activities, and the use of the flexible mechanisms under the Kyoto Protocol;
  • enable the Commission to specify reporting requirements for carbon dioxide emissions from marine vessels calling at Member States ports, to establish an EU emissions trading registry, and to require the retirement of units under the Kyoto Protocol;
  • increase the frequency of reporting by Member States to the Commission on measures relating to greenhouse gas emissions and their removal, and lay down more detailed requirements on the content of these reports;
  • require Member States to report annually to the Commission on national or regional strategies to adapt to climate change; on how purchasing policy enhances the achievement of an international agreement on climate change; and on the use of revenues from auctioning EU ETS allowances;
  • require the Commission to carry out as from 2013 an annual review of national greenhouse gas inventories in order to determine progress in achieving targets under Effort Sharing Decision, and enable it to recalculate emissions, where technical corrections are considered necessary.

15.4 In our Report of 18 January 2012, we noted that the Government agreed that the current arrangements require amendment in order to incorporate reporting requirements for the Effort Sharing Decision. However, it had argued that this should not be extended to areas where existing or planned requirements were already appropriate, that the Commission should make greater use of progress reports already provided to the UNFCCC, and that, although additional information relating to specific EU legislative obligations would be required, the Commission's proposals went beyond this. We also noted at some length in paragraph 9.9 of our Report the Government's comments on detailed aspects of the proposal.

15.5 The Government added that it had not yet been possible to produce an Impact Assessment, but, in the meantime, it noted that the Commission's Impact Assessment had stated that the proposal would increase the EU's environmental performance, and that, although the main economic impacts related to increased public administration burdens, no direct or indirect reporting requirements would be imposed on SMEs or industry.

15.6 We observed that this was evidently a wide-ranging and detailed document, and that we would therefore await with interest the Government's Impact Assessment. In the meantime, we said we would be interested in its views on the justification given by the Commission for replacing an existing instrument by a Regulation, and that, even if the proposal showed a clear cost-benefit, we asked (i) whether, in the case of an EU requirement, other Member States had shown themselves willing and able to provide the information in question, and (ii) where it related to wider international obligations, other parties — including non-EU countries — had done so.

15.7 We subsequently noted in our Report of 7 March 2012 that we had received from the Government a letter of 9 February 2012, which said that the replacement of a Decision with a Regulation needed to be considered on a case-by-case basis, and that in this instance, the Commission had said that a Regulation was necessary because of the broader scope of the legislation, the increased number of addressees, the highly technical and harmonised nature of the monitoring mechanism, and to facilitate its implementation.

15.8 On the substance of the proposal, the Government had pointed out that, whilst the need to amend the Monitoring Mechanism Decision arises in order to implement and monitor compliance with the EU Effort Sharing Decision, the Commission had proposed to introduce further reporting and review requirements beyond the enhanced UNFCCC requirements adopted at Durban. It added that harmonisation of international and EU reporting, and minimising the administrative burden, are Government priorities, and that the necessity and added-value of additional or enhanced reporting requirements should be more clearly addressed.

15.9 The Government also said that, in many cases, the Regulation would mandate in areas which are currently non-binding, or where voluntary reporting practices already operate, and in addition to the UK's existing international reporting obligations, there would need to be annual reports in respect of policies and measures, emissions projections, financial and technology support to developing countries and adaptation measures. It went on to suggest that most Member States would be able to provide the majority of the information required under the proposals, but that increased frequency of reporting was of concern to many of them. Furthermore, concern had been raised about the political signal sent by the establishment of an EU greenhouse gas inventory review process separate from that of the UNFCCC, particularly in view of the scarcity of experts to carry out the review.

15.10 On the other hand, the Government believed that there were potential benefits arising from some of the enhancements suggested, and with no other non-EU countries being subject to such rigorous provisions, the proposals set an example to others. It also said that, in certain cases, the UK's Climate Change Act already imposed similar requirements, and it did not envisage large additional burdens to the UK from synchronisation of these elements at a European level: however, it suggested that the UK would need to adopt a very cautious approach during the negotiations to ensure additional burdens are justified by the benefits.

15.11 Finally, the Government enclosed an impact assessment checklist, which suggested that the additional costs for central government would be relatively small, but added that although the costs for industry had not been estimated because of the uncertainty about the detailed reporting requirements, the potential benefits would include better data to inform policy development and assist in monitoring compliance with the targets under the Effort Sharing Decision. Annex A to our Report set out a letter from the Chairman of the Energy and Climate Change Committee responding to our earlier request for its opinion.

15.12 In thanking the Government and the Energy and Climate Change Committee, we observed that their comments illustrated the complexity of these proposals, and the need to balance the costs of meeting the additional requirements against the use which might be made of them. We added that we nevertheless felt that it would be premature to clear the document, and whilst we thought it right to produce a further Report to the House, we intended to hold the document under scrutiny, pending further developments.

Minister's letters of 25 October and 20 November 2012

15.13 We subsequently received from the Minister of State at the Department of Energy and Climate Change (Mr Gregory Barker) a letter of 25 October, commenting on the likely shape of any agreement between the Council and European Parliament, indicating that the main points of difference related to reporting requirements on financial and technology support provided to developing countries; maritime emissions reporting; and reporting on national adaptation actions. He said that the Parliament wanted to go beyond current reporting requirements agreed under the Decision No 280/2004/EC and internationally, whereas the Council — along with the UK — preferred to align reporting with international obligations. Differences had also arisen over the delegation of powers to the Commission, where the Council was content with what was proposed, but the Parliament wished to go further. The Minister added that other Member States shared the UK's view, and wished to see additional reporting requirements only where fully justified.

15.14 We have since received a letter of 20 November from the Minister, saying that there had been a further trilogue, and the European Parliament was now moving towards the Council's position. As a result, he expects an acceptable first reading deal to be reached in early January, which would see reporting linked with international decisions, with additional reporting agreed where there is scope to do so, and he asks if we would now be in a position to lift our scrutiny reserve.

Conclusion

15.15 We are grateful to the Minister for these further explanations, which indicate that the UK is now content with the position taken by the Council on this proposal, and that the European Parliament is moving towards that position. In view of this, and the fact that any additional administrative costs which did arise would fall on public bodies rather than industry, we see no further need to hold the proposal under scrutiny. We are therefore clearing it.



80   This sets annual reduction targets for Member States in sectors outside of the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) over the 2013-20 period: see OJ No. L 140, 05.06.09, pp.136-148. Back


 
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Prepared 13 December 2012