ECONOMY

Urgent need for a CO2 permit plan

Greece is the sole country in the European Union not to have drafted a National Allocation Plan (NAP) that details the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) industrial plants will be permitted to emit, a recent study by Kantor Management Consulting has underlined. As of January 1, 2005, the day the EU-wide emissions trading system begins to operate approaches, Athens cannot afford to delay it any longer. The NAP will have an immediate impact on plants’ costs, but there is hardly any time left for collective consultation with the industrialists concerned, since the plan has to be submitted to the European Commission for approval. After permits are allocated, industrial plants will be monitored and if their CO2 emissions at the end of the year exceed their permitted amount, they will face a fine that during the first phase of the EU directive’s application (2005-2007) will be 40 euros per excess CO2 ton, and in the second (2008-2012),100 euros per ton. The system is the key part of EU efforts to meet commitments under the Kyoto Protocol, the international agreement aimed at slowing global warming. The scheme allows firms to buy or sell rights to pollute. Every government has to outline the amount of emissions allocated to each sector. The NAPs had to be submitted to the European Commission for approval by March 2004, but Greece has still not done so. In July, the Commission sent a warning letter to Greece for its failure to submit a plan. As Kantor’s energy and infrastructure director, Evangelos Penglis, points out, penalties for industries may well run to hundreds of thousands of euros per year, and they may not be prepared to handle the new, stricter environment that is expected to impose emission reductions of up to 20 percent for some plants. The fine for a typical industrial plant in Greece, emitting 500,000 tons CO2 per year but with a permit for 450,000 tons, will reach 2 million euros. The total annual cost for Greek industry may rise to 100 million euros, Penglis said.