New SLF publication on the European carbon market

As Brexit continues to hog the spotlight in the British media, there are still important issues being discussed and votes taking place in the European Parliament that Liberals everywhere should care about.

On the 15th February 2017, MEPs voted on a package of regulations intended to strengthen the proposed reforms to the European Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) and added their own amendments.

Tellingly, the vote was welcomed by a number of high-emissions sectors as well as the European Commission but heavily criticised by a number of NGOs and advocates of carbon market reform, with Climate Action Network, for example, describing the compromise as a betrayal of the spirit of the Paris Climate Agreement. Next week (on Tuesday 28th Feb) EU environment ministers will meet in Brussels to discuss how EU member states will respond to the vote.

The environment and its stewardship have long been and remain part of the DNA of Liberals everywhere.  As part of its series of publications that challenge and progress thinking in a number of policy areas, the Social Liberal Forum (SLF) is pleased to announce the publication this week of “The European carbon market isn’t working – and social liberals should be worried”  by SLF Council Member Edward Robinson

The article looks at the history of the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS), analyses why it has not been working in the way it was intended, and looks at possible reforms to the system that would make it more effective at stimulating carbon price inflation and driving the uptake of clean technologies.

As Edward says:

Social liberals have a big responsibility. Social liberalism was born in attempts to reconcile individual freedom with collective flourishing and it has a good track record of enacting pragmatic and popular legislation to tackle pollution. Perhaps uniquely, social liberalism openly acknowledges the two faces of the market: its propensity to create negative externalities and inequality for sure, but also its remarkable ability to encourage innovation and efficiency.

It is this qualified faith in the market combined with respect for individual rights that should render social liberals favourable to emissions trading, at least in principle. And this is why we should be concerned about the plight of the EU Emissions Trading System.

You can find the piece here.  It should be essential reading for all Liberals who care about the effects of climate change and how we can alleviate its symptoms to create a sustainable environment for all, now and in the future.

The publications section of the SLF site has previous articles on a variety of topics from education to the economy, constitutional reform and the political direction of the Liberal Democrats as a party.  It is part of our continuing commitment  at the SLF to produce new and radical thinking on issues across the whole of the political spectrum.  We hope you will enjoy reading some or all of these publications and come back to us with your thoughts and ideas.

* Helen Flynn is an Executive Member of the LDEA. She is a former Parliamentary Candidate and Harrogate Borough Councillor and has served on the Federal Policy Committee and Federal Board. She has been a school governor in a variety of settings for 19 years and currently chairs a multi academy trust in the north of England.

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