EC clashes with Greece on emissions

The European Commission said yesterday that the Environment and Public Works Ministry had been fully aware of Greece’s imminent suspension from a United Nations carbon emissions trading program – and that this could lead to legal action – even as the ministry insisted that no «final decision» had been made. A Commission source yesterday rebuffed claims by the ministry that it had not known about the risk of an indictment to the European Court of Justice over Greece’s failure to reliably test its pollution levels. «Let’s not imagine scenarios about indictments to the European Court and fines,» the ministry had said. The ministry statement took issue with European Commissioner Stavros Dimas, a Greek himself, for allegedly «leaking» a warning about potential legal action against Greece instead of «waiting for a visit by UN experts and their final decision.» The statement added that the «temporary noncompliance status imposed on Greece would not have any practical impact.» An EC statement stressed that the decision, for Greece’s three-month suspension from the emissions trading scheme, was indeed final and violated European legislation as well as the Kyoto Protocol. But it was clear that more than 150 Greek firms that have been participating in the emissions trading scheme would be unable to do so for the next three months. Greece’s Ombudsman yesterday appealed to these firms not to exploit the three-month ban on Greece as an excuse to release more emissions than they are entitled to and asked them to honor «their commitment to adapt to the improved techniques demanded by European directives.» A member of the state emissions measuring committee, Yiannis Ziomas, yesterday said Greece had introduced a new pollution measuring system in January but «had not had the opportunity to prove its efficiency to United Nations officials.»

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