How your MEP voted on Energy prices

There was a very close vote in the European parliament today about carbon prices.

The parliament voted, by a narrow margin, to reject EU commission proposals for what is called "backloading" of carbon emission rights, which would have reduced the number of carbon emission allowances on the market and therefore probably have increased their price.

334 MEPs voted in favour or a motion to reject the commission proposal - e.g. against the "backloading" proposal and against a higher carbon price. Effectively, putting energy prices as a higher priority than the environment.

315 MEPs voted against that motion - effectively, in favour of the environment over energy prices.

63 MEPs abstained.

You can see who voted for and against  at the Votewatch Europe page here. The table on that page, which can be filtered by country, or political group, shows a green thumbs up beside MEPs who voted for the successful motion and against the commission (e.g. for cheaper energy) and a red thumbs down beside those who voted against the motion (e.g. for a higher carbon price.)

North-West Liberal Democrat MEP Chris Davies criticised those Conservative MEPs who voted against the proposal on the grounds that they had "undermined the efforts of the coalition government to protect the environment."

"Conservative MEPs could have made a decisive difference and levelled the playing field for UK manufacturers building car parts, aerospace technologies and other energy intensive export businesses" he said

"Instead they have let their hatred of the EU get in the way of their own party policy and of economic growth."

I think Chris is fundamentally missing the point here. I don't think this vote had anything whatsoever to do with "hatred of the EU" but it did demonstrate a conflict between two extremely important principles, both of which I support.

On the one had, we need a carbon price which is high enough to provide an incentive for low-carbon energy production. The present carbon price of less than five Euros per tonne is too low, and reflects bad management and the issue of too many allowances. Some action was necessary to correct for this.

However, any responsible politician would have to think very long and hard, at this extremely difficult time, about whether to shove up energy costs affecting homes and businesses. The cost of energy currently forms an increasing and painfully large share of the budget of many households. It is also a major cost to many employers. A further significant hike in energy costs at this precise moment might possibly be the last straw which tipped Britain into a triple-dip recession. Other EU countries have similar problems.

Perhaps the actual outcome - a narrow defeat for the commission proposal and the issue referred back for further consideration - may be best for now. I hope a compromise can be found. The present lax regime in which too many carbon allowances have been issued does need to be corrected and a carbon price which sends the right signals is needed. But we need to get there gradually in a way which does not hammer households or businesses at exactly the wrong time.


Popular posts from this blog

Nick Herbert on his visit to flood hit areas of Cumbria

Quotes of the day 19th August 2020

Quote of the day 24th July 2020