Debates on the EU ETS “tiering” proposal

On 4 May the EPP Group hosted a hearing on EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) in the European Parliament, following the European Commission (EC) proposal for a revision of the ETS Directive for the fourth period (2021-2030).

MEPs, EC officials, researchers as well as representatives from energy organisations and industries discussed the Innovation Fund, Modernisation Fund, indirect costs and carbon leakage provisions.

The hearing also addressed the France-UK non-paper proposing the so-called “tiered approach”. Energy intensive industries published a statement on 19 April expressing their concerns regarding the “tiered approach” to free allocation under post-2020 EU ETS.

This approach would reserve free allowances for some sectors at the expense of others. The signatories state that the proposed “tiering” has no environmental or economic justification and ask for a framework that gives all sectors equal opportunities to compete and thrive in Europe.

Launch of BAMB2020

The EU-funded BAMB (Buildings as Materials Banks) project consortium brings 16 parties together to provide circular economy solutions to the building sector.

The BAMB stakeholder network was launched on 3 May in Brussels. Speakers introduced the concept of materials passports, which will provide the necessary information about materials, products and components for their circular use and the support of reversible building design. Within the scope of this project, 300 materials passports will be developed, as well as a software tool. 

ECJ ruling on cross-sectoral correction factor

On 28 April the European Court of Justice declared invalid the maximum annual amount of free allowances for GHG determined by the Commission for the period 2013-2020.

The Court found that the ceiling used by the European Commission (EC) to determine the value of the cross-sectoral correction factor (CSCF) was too high, as the EC was required to refer only to the emissions of the installations included in the Community system from 2013 onwards. Consequently the Court deemed the CSCF invalid (Commission Decision 2013/448, Art. 4 and Annex 2).

The case was brought to the Court by companies that claimed they have received fewer allowances than they were entitled to (C-191/14 - Borealis Polyolefine).

The ruling will take effect after the EC recalculates the CSCF (with a deadline of 10 months) and will lead to the reduction of the total number of free allocations for industrial installations in the final years of the EU ETS phase III.

Read the ECJ press release.

NEEIP Forum 2016: Keeping the circular economy rolling

On 20 April, the European Non-Energy Extractive Industries (NEEIP) organised the 2016 Forum on the circular economy. The goal was to highlight what the industry has already achieved and what still remains to be done to obtain a circular economy that best serves society.

Renaud Batier, Cerame-Unie Director General, opened the event stressing that a circular economy needs primary and secondary raw materials. He pointed out that a lead resource efficiency indicator should not be imposed in the context of a circular economy and highlighted the need to further develop markets for secondary raw materials (full speech).

Speakers from the European Commission confirmed the continued importance of primary raw materials. Mr Schally confirmed that DG ENVI took stakeholders’ comments into account on the resource efficiency target. However, the Commission will still use the lead indicator to monitor the implementation of the circular economy at national level. 

The NEEIP Forum is the annual event with high level representatives from the European Commission, European Parliament and other relevant EU institutions addressing topical policies currently under debate.

Ceramic industry statement against tiering of EU ETS carbon leakage list

The European ceramic industry is gravely concerned about the proposed “tiered” approach to free allocation for industries at risk of carbon leakage, as recently presented in a joint France-UK non-paper. In response, Cerame-Unie (of which TBE is a member) has published a statement highlighting the risks of pursuing a tiered approach.

The review of the EU ETS Directive is of critical importance to the ceramic sectors, as the scheme covers more than 1,200 ceramic installations across Europe, representing 10% of the total number of ETS installations, but less than 1% of EU ETS industrial emissions. The ceramic industry, which is present in all EU Member States, is largely composed of SMEs (80%) and provides around 200,000 direct jobs across Europe. At present, all ceramic sectors within ETS (namely manufacturers of: bricks, roof tiles and clay pipes, wall and floor tiles, refractories, sanitaryware and other ceramic products) are deemed to be at significant risk of carbon leakage.

The introduction of any “tiered” approach would result in incomplete mitigation and hence significantly increased risks of carbon, investment and jobs leakage. 

Under the “tiering” proposals outlined in the France-UK non-paper, all ceramic sectors would see an enormous reduction in the level of free allocation received. Some ceramic sectors might receive mitigation from 30% up to 75% of a tougher benchmark (based on the average of the 10% most carbon-efficient sites), whereas other sectors would receive just 30% of the stiffer benchmark at the start of the phase, dwindling to 0% by 2027. Furthermore, the introduction of a “tiered” list would provide major distortions globally against non-EU ceramic producers and in the internal EU market (with competitor products from other industrial sectors in higher tiers). This makes investment in the EU very challenging indeed and undermines the feasibility of existing operations. All of which is set against a backdrop of significant investments taking place in neighbouring countries outside the EU.

The tiered approach to free allowance allocation for the EU ETS carbon leakage list is a concept which undermines the aim of the EU ETS and contradicts the October 2014 European Council Conclusions. It would not ensure the delivery of cost-effective greenhouse gas emission reductions, but on the contrary would have a deleterious impact on the wider European economy and would result in an increase in global emissions. A tiered approach would result in an inadequate level of carbon leakage protection for all ceramic sectors.

It is crucial that all ceramic sectors and subsectors receive full carbon leakage protection. We support the two-tier proposal as presented by the European Commission, which grants 100% free allocation to sectors on the carbon leakage list, providing that the option of a qualitative assessment of leakage risks is available to all sectors irrespective of the quantitative assessment outcome (i.e. the threshold of 0.18 should be removed).

What is Building Information Modelling?

The latest buzzword, fad or serious issue, depending on your viewpoint in the construction sector is Building Information Modelling (BIM). Just what BIM is and what it means to manufacturers is anything but clear.

In essence BIM is simply the means by which everyone can understand a building through the use of a digital model. The digital model can be made up of 3D drawing models (in various levels of detail) and probably more importantly a collection of product-specific meta data (usually in the form of a product data template (PDT)) that help to present the characteristics of a product in a standardised form.

The largest problem facing manufacturers with this concept is that there is not a single agreed method of providing BIM data to architects, specifiers and contractors. In fact there are a number of ‘closed’ BIM systems that manufacturers may embrace just to be able to have the opportunity to tender for work.

CEN has recently started a new Technical Committee (TC442) to start to standardise BIM within Europe. However, the real work within TC442 has yet to start. There have only been two meetings to date with the last meeting taking place in Oslo on 15 and 16 February 2016.

The primary decision of TC442 is to agree that the existing ISO standards for BIM will be adopted as European Standards. Secondly the TC442 have set up a number of working groups to take responsibility for the different aspects of BIM:

  • WG1 Strategy and planning (secretariat: United Kingdom)
  • WG2 Exchange information (secretariat: Germany)
  • WG3 Information delivery specification (secretariat: Austria)
  • WG4 Data dictionary (secretariat: France)

There is also a newly appointed Chair Advisory Group (CAG) that will work to make sure that each WG remains focused on their core activity.

Most importantly, the adoption of ISO BIM standards mean that the European Standards will embrace ‘open’ BIM standards. Hopefully this will ensure that future BIM will be appropriate, transparent and cost effective for all interested parties from the designer right through to the manufacturer.

Thanks to Christian Taylor-Hamlin, Technical Director at Bathroom Manufacturers Association, for submitting this article.

EU Environment Council follows up on COP21

On 4 March the EU Environment Council met in Brussels to debate the follow up of the Paris agreement.

The Ministers agreed that it is necessary to “keep the Paris momentum alive and to turn the focus to the implementation of commitments”. Many Members States identified swift ratification of the agreement as a priority. Environment Ministers welcomed the European Commission’s assessment of the Paris agreement and implications for the EU 2030 climate and energy policy.

Visit the Council website for more information.

MEP Belder visits Dutch brick plant

On 4 March, MEP Bas Belder (Netherlands, ECR) met the Royal Dutch Association for Building Ceramics (KNB) and visited brick manufacturer Rodruza De Zandberg in Gendt. The Director of Rodruza Ivo Würzner, KNB Chair Dick Tommel and KNB Director Ewald van Hal extended a warm welcome to MEP Belder and his assistants.

In addition to a tour of the plant, the visit provided an opportunity to discuss crucial issues for the Dutch brick industry. MEP Belder acknowledged the importance of a level playing field, particularly in relation to China’s Market Economy Status, which the EU is currently debating granting at the end of 2016. However, as China does not meet the criteria to be considered a market economy, granting it prematurely poses a significant threat to European industry.

Other relevant topics addressed at the meeting were the post-2020 EU Emissions Trading Scheme review, the fitness check on Natura 2000 and the Directive on Dangerous Substances.

EU Competitiveness Council conclusions

In its conclusions from 29 February, the EU Competitiveness Council re-stated the need for “a balanced and comprehensive approach to assist energy-intensive industries in modernising, innovating and adjusting to long-term changes in global value chains and market trends, which should aim at creating a business environment enabling EU industry to compete on global markets”.

They also took note of the messages from the Conference on Energy-intensive Industries on 15 February, including reducing regulatory and ETS-related costs on industries facing the strongest international competition.

See more information about the Council meeting here.