EU to toughen stance on carbon dioxide emission allocation plans

TURKU, Finland (Reuters) – The European Union’s Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas says he is taking a tougher stance toward member states’ carbon dioxide emission allocation plans. The EU’s 15 «old» member states are required under the Kyoto Protocol to reduce emissions by power stations, vehicles and other sources of heat-trapping gases by 8 percent compared to 1990 levels by the end of the treaty’s 2008-2012 period. The emissions trading scheme, the EU’s key climate change strategy, has been trying to re-establish its credentials as an effective way to fight climate change since 2005 data released in May showed a surplus of carbon dioxide (CO2) credits. Member states have further undermined the scheme, as nearly all missed the end-June deadline to submit national emission allocation plans for the scheme’s second trading period of 2008-2012. «Because we have not much time, I have to start infringement procedures in case national allocation plans will not be delivered in time for us to assess them,» Dimas told the EU environment ministers meeting here last weekend. «I can assure you that there is no doubt about the Commission’s resolve to maintain emission trading as the cornerstone of its climate policy for the period beyond 2012,» Dimas said. The emissions trading scheme is not on the official agenda of the informal meeting. Dimas urged all member states to submit their allocation plans as soon as possible. Only five countries so far have done so. Debate Officials say the reason for EU members’ delay in submitting their plans is because of fierce negotiations between ministries and industry within member states, officials said. Germany’s Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel told Reuters, «Some members of the government and members of industry said it was not necessary to hand in the national allocation plan on time, but to see first what other member states will do.» «This is not a good sign. If Germany, as a highly industrialized country in Europe, will not fulfill its responsibilities then it’s a signal for others to do the same,» he said. He said Germany had come up with a very ambitious plan for the second trading period to reduce 15 million tons of carbon dioxide per year, compared with the 3 percent in the first trading period. Italy responded to Dimas’s appeal by saying it had on Friday published a plan for 2008-2012 to reduce CO2 emissions by 13 percent or 39 million tons. «The Ministry of Environment and Industry had very tough negotiations,» Alfonso Pecoraro Scanio, Italy’s minister for the environment said, adding he was happy to hear about the Commission’s tough stance toward reducing CO2 emissions. Finland’s Environment Minister Jan-Erik Enestam said on Friday that it was too early to make a final judgment on the emission-trading scheme based on one year’s experience. «In Finland, where we did not succeed in allocating (emissions rights) very precisely there were a lot of good reasons why this was the case,» he said. He added that among them was the Nordic electricity pool, through which more clean and hydropower electricity was imported from Sweden and Norway than anticipated. Enestam said Finland’s allocation plan was under preparation.