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EU assembly to push for greenhouse gas trading deal

Date: 22-May-03
Country: EU
Author: Robin Pomeroy

If parliament can get a deal with European Union governments without having to go into lengthy negotiations, from 2005 some 10,000 firms in the refining, smelting, paper and metals sectors will have to limit their emissions or pay to pollute more.

The scheme is a central plank of the EU's strategy to fight global warming and could create a brand new marketplace as companies buy and sell emissions credits across borders.

Parliament's spokesman on emissions trading said the bill had to be finalised urgently to get the system in place by the 2005 launch date.

"If we postpone a decision it will create enormous problems for national authorities and companies," Spanish centre-right EU parliamentarian Jorge Moreira da Silva told a conference.

The law could have a huge impact on EU industry as it will limit the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) plants can emit, and let them buy extra emissions rights from less polluting firms.

It is designed to help the EU reduce the gases blamed by many scientists for trapping heat in the atmosphere and causing climate change, the main one being CO2 which is an unavoidable by-product of burning fossil fuels like oil, gas and coal.

Moreira da Silva said allowing firms to buy and sell pollution rights would reduce the costs the EU's cost of complying with its Kyoto Protocol target greenhouse gas emissions targets by 35 percent of the 3.7 billion annual cost the European Commission has estimated.

This might in turn demonstrate to the United States, which has withdrawn from the United Nations climate pact, that it is not crippling to the economy, he added.

To get a swift agreement with governments on the bill, parliament could drop many of its demands like including other greenhouse gases and sectors and making firms pay for some of their initial allowance of pollution rights, he said.

But the assembly would hold out on three issues: the scheme must remain largely compulsory for the sectors involved; governments must limit the number of emissions credits they hand out, and a future revision of the law must consider including the transport and housing sectors.

"There is no possible agreement we find agreement on these three issues," he told the conference.

Parliament's environment committee is due to vote on the bill in June.

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