European Commission Registers New Citizens’ Initiative on Carbon Quotas

European Commission has registered a European Citizens’ Initiative titled “Air-Quotas,” which proposes the establishment of a citizens’ carbon quota mechanism. Initiated on April 26, 2024, this initiative is designed to promote decarbonisation through consumer demand by covering all purchases of goods and services, with an initial focus on air transport.

Key Details of the Initiative

The “Air-Quotas” initiative aligns with the objectives of the Paris Agreement and the European Union’s commitment to a 55% reduction in carbon emissions. The proposed mechanism involves a fair distribution of carbon quotas among citizens, which will decrease annually. The initiative aims to stimulate companies to decarbonise by leveraging consumer demand.

Implementation Phases

The initiative outlines a three-phase approach:

  1. Survey: Conduct a comprehensive survey to gather data and insights.
  2. Formulation: Engage citizens selected by lot, alongside experts and elected representatives, to formulate the mechanism.
  3. National Referendums: Implement the mechanism through national referendums in each EU Member State.

Initial Focus and Campaign

The initiative’s initial focus on air transport is symbolic, as this sector represents approximately 5% of Europe’s carbon footprint. The “Air-Quotas” information campaign will educate the public on the trade mechanism between carbon deficits and surpluses, promoting an understanding of egalitarian distribution and its annual reduction.

Legal and Procedural Context

The European Citizens’ Initiative allows EU citizens to invite the European Commission to propose legal acts in areas within its competence. The registration of “Air-Quotas” indicates the initiative meets the formal admissibility conditions under the European Citizens’ Initiative Regulation. However, the Commission’s registration does not equate to an endorsement of the initiative’s substance.

Next Steps

Following the registration, the organisers have six months to open the collection of signatures. If the initiative garners one million statements of support within one year, with minimum thresholds met in at least seven Member States, the Commission will evaluate whether to take action and will provide a reasoned response.