Carbon Market’s Fate in Europe Hangs on EU Vote to Fix Surplus

European Union lawmakers may determine the fate of the world’s biggest carbon market when they vote today on a proposal to cut a record surplus of emission permits that has pushed prices to an all-time low.

The European Parliament’s environment committee is considering an amendment to EU emissions trading law that will enable sales of some carbon allowances to be delayed until the end of the decade, a process known as backloading. The panel’s non-binding opinion, due after 9 a.m. in Brussels, will serve as a recommendation for the whole parliament in a later vote.

At stake is the EU’s 54 billion euro ($72 billion) cap-and- trade system, which imposes emission limits on about 12,000 companies from EON SE, Germany’s largest utility, to steelmaker ArcelorMittal. The aim of backloading is to help support the price of carbon permits, which slumped to 2.81 euros a metric ton last month from more than 10 euros a year ago as Europe’s sputtering economy damped demand.