Bulgaria’s CO2 cap case

SOFIA (Reuters) – Bulgaria hopes to convince the European Commission to change the country’s carbon emission limit for 2008-12 but will take it to court if it refuses, Environment Minister Dzevdet Chakarov said yesterday. Chakarov said the new European Union member needs every ton of its proposed quota of 67.6 million tons, which the Commission had cut by 37 percent to 42.3 million tons and will bring the issue to a working meeting in Brussels next week. «We will take action to defend our proposed quota at a working meeting on November 22. I hope we will be given the desired amount,» Chakarov told reporters. «But if we don’t, we’ll turn to court.» The EU emission trading scheme is the bloc’s key tool to cut the emissions of planet-warming gas carbon dioxide (CO2) by giving firms too few permits to pollute, forcing them either to clean up or buy extra permits from others with a surplus. Chakarov said the Commission did not take into account that the closure of two of Bulgaria’s 440-megawatt nuclear reactors last year will increase its needs to pollute, nor has it calculated the country’s accelerated economic growth in the past years. Chakarov and business leaders said the cap would hurt Bulgaria’s developing economy and may lead to the bankruptcy of smaller producers and raise its energy prices. At least seven member states – Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia – have said they will challenge the commission in court over the allowances. The European Commission has cut by 10 percent the allowances wanted by the 27 member states in an attempt to put the bloc back on track to meet its Kyoto targets. Because of its long transition period from communism to a market economy, Bulgaria’s heavy industries have declined, significantly cutting the level of greenhouse gas emissions to under 50 percent below its obligation under the Kyoto Protocol. Under the protocol, Bulgaria has committed to cutting emissions by 8 percent in 2008-12 from its 1988 levels of 124 million tons. Chakarov said he would not allow Bulgarian industries to become buyers from possible sellers of emission rights.