EU’s carbon dioxide emissions far below the set limit for 2005

COLOGNE – The European Union’s 2005 carbon dioxide emissions fell far short of a limit set by the bloc’s pollution trading scheme, sending carbon prices to a one-year low yesterday. Total CO2 emissions for 20 countries were about 60 million tons below the ceiling, signaling a big surplus of pollution credits and raising questions about the level of caps set for the scheme’s first phase that runs from 2005-2007. The European Union’s executive body will report on Monday on the first year of the 25-state bloc’s trading scheme, which sets limits on how much CO2 high-polluting industries may emit. It will release 2005 emissions figures for 21 countries. But figures began appearing on the Commission’s website yesterday, wiping a third off carbon prices. The Commission said the data for Germany and others had appeared accidentally. The data showed top polluter Germany came in 25.50 million tons below its quota, a wider than expected margin. The quotas are part of an EU trading scheme designed to reduce output of greenhouse gases in line with Europe’s commitment to the Kyoto protocol. The website showed Britain’s emissions came in above its allocation. Spain and Italy were also above target. The Czech Republic, Portugal, Belgium and Hungary were all below quota. European prices for carbon dioxide emissions fell to their lowest levels for at least a year. CO2 credits for December 2006 delivery fell 4.05 euros to a low of 8.6 euros a ton, before rebounding to 9.40 euros. A Commission spokeswoman said the data posted on the website was accurate. «What I can say is that the data that is on that website for installation is correct on the emissions for allocations but I cannot comment on aggregated data because that would be breaching our legal limits,» she said. The EU trading market sets a cap on total emissions by industries of CO2, which is widely blamed for global warming. Companies that have allowances to spare can sell them on the market, while those that have more emissions than they do allowances must buy credits or face a fine. The scheme is the EU’s key instrument to meet climate change commitments under the Kyoto Protocol. The Commission spokeswoman added there was some question about figures for surrendered emission rights, where some of the data did not correspond to the actual emissions figure. This might be due to software errors, she said.