Greece plans to cash in on CO2 credits

Greece hopes to make 140 million euros this year from trading surplus carbon emission rights as the industries to which they had been allocated never got off the ground.

The Environment Ministry said on Tuesday that the Kyoto Protocol for the environment allows each county to allocate emission credits to emerging industries. However, the ministry has discovered that, according to its plans for 2005 to 2007 and 2008 to 2012, some 10 million tons of carbon dioxide emission credits were not allocated because there was a lack of new businesses being formed. The current trading price for a credit equivalent to 1 ton of carbon dioxide is 14 euros, so the government believes that it can earn 140 million euros by selling these emission rights.

The ministry said that the money would be allocated to the Green Fund, which it is using to finance environmentally friendly projects, rather than being used to plug holes in the public finances. The details of how the government will auction off its surplus credits will be announced later this month.

In December, the government signed a decision that will allow Greek airlines to participate in the European Union?s Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) from the start of 2012. Launched in 2005, the EU ETS works on the cap-and-trade principle. This means there is a cap, or limit, on the total amount of certain greenhouse gases that can be emitted by the factories, power plants and other firms that can take part in the system. Within this cap, companies receive emission allowances which they can sell to or buy from one another as needed.

The decision signed at the end of last month also allows other Greek industries to enter the EU Emissions Trading System when it expands in 2013. The scheme will include petrochemicals, ammonia and aluminium industries in 2013.