Bulgaria seeks more time for emissions plan

SOFIA (Reuters) – The Bulgarian government allocated carbon emission permits to industries for 2007 on Wednesday and will ask the European Commission to give it more time, to June 30, to comply with requirements, officials said. The plan that allocated a total of 42.3 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) permits to 140 installations for 2007 – the last year of the European Union’s first round of carbon emission trade – will be send to the Commission for approval. Bulgaria has so far missed all deadlines linked to the 2007 carbon trade and has not yet launched a national registry needed to kick off trade. Businesses, which face EC sanctions if they fail to comply, have accused the government of sluggishness. «We will ask the Commission to give us more time to June 30, given the delays so far,» Stefan Dishovski of the Environment Ministry told reporters. «We have been assured that the Commission will show understanding.» He said the government had allocated slightly over 37 million tons of CO2 permits, called EU allowances (EUAs), to 100 installations based on verified reports of their actual emissions for 2007. The biggest emitters included coal-based power plants which got 20.5 million tons of EUAs, other energy utilities with 8.3 million tons and cement and metal plants with 3.5 million tons, Dishovski said. Another 40 smaller installations, mainly ceramic and lime producing companies, had failed to provide verified reports for 2007 emissions and would most likely need to buy the remaining 5 million tons of Bulgaria’s total EUAs to match their quotas for last year, he said. The EU’s carbon trading scheme is the 27-nation bloc’s main strategy to fight climate change, and sets an overall cap on permits to emit the greenhouse CO2 gas on energy-intensive industry, but allows companies to trade EUAs among themselves. In December, Bulgaria became the eighth post-communist East European country to take legal action against the Commission, after Brussels slashed Sofia’s original CO2 annual emission quota for 2007 and for the second round of trading in 2008-12 by 37 percent to 42.3 million tons. The East European countries have argued lower CO2 emissions would hurt the robust growth of their emerging economies.