June 1, 2017 / 11:15 AM / 3 months ago

Lead EU carbon market reform lawmaker steps down

LONDON (Reuters) - The lead lawmaker in the European Parliament for reforms to the EU carbon market, Ian Duncan, has handed over responsibility of the process, he said on Thursday, after criticism he had delayed talks on the process.

Duncan has been campaigning to become an member of parliament in the British election, to be held on June 8, leading to the postponement earlier this week of talks on the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS), which EU presidency holder Malta warned would delay the reform process.

"I am fully focused on campaigning ... ahead of the General Election and believe there needs to be someone actively managing the ETS (Emission Trading System) report at this time," Duncan said in an emailed statement.

He said he would be replaced by fellow conservative British MEP Julie Girling.

Around 45 percent of Europe's greenhouse gas emissions are regulated by the ETS which charges utilities, industry and airlines for the right to emit carbon dioxide (CO2).

The scheme is meant to be the European Union's prime tool for cutting emissions, but carbon prices have suffered from an excess supply of permits since the financial crisis.

The reforms would, from 2021, cut the number of permits available, and are expected to more than triple carbon prices from their current level of around 5 euros a tonne.

"We strongly encourage the new management to hasten the work on reform to the EU's carbon market," said Julia Michalak, policy director at the International Emissions Trading Association (IETA), which represents firms covered by the scheme.

"Businesses are already making investment decisions for the period in which the changes will take effect and need the regulatory clarity," she said.

Reporting By Susanna Twidale, editing by David Evans

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