European lawmakers will vote if they give five billion of euros worth of carbon allowances away for free to heavy industries

European lawmakers will vote next week if the give billions of euros worth of carbon allowances away for free to heavy industries, after a senior Green member lodged an objection.

The European Commission, the EU’s executive, in May proposed that the vast majority of industry sectors should keep getting most of their allowances for free over 2015-2019 to help meet their obligations under the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS). Member states officials unanimously approved the plan in July.

But Dutch Green MEP Bas Eickhout has lodged an objection to the proposal, triggering a parliamentary committee vote on Sept. 24.

If the lawmakers on the committee vote in favor of Eickhout, the matter would then be put before the entire assembly – where his objection would need majority backing to force a redraft of the Commission’s plans.

This debate has arisen because of a drastic fall in allowance prices to 6 euros currently from above 30 euros in 2008. This fact has led environmental campaigners to call for a substantial cut in the free allocation to encourage firms to invest in carbon-cutting technology.

The Commission says it is justified in keeping the 30-euro assumption because it is also proposing carbon market reforms that could boost prices. But even with those measures, analysts expect prices to reach only around 10 euros for the rest of the decade.

“The decision has been fudged. With this proposal Europe is handing a blank check to these industries and going against the EU’s polluter pays principle,” said Sam Van Den Plas of environmental campaigners WWF.