Use carbon credits more to cut emissions, says UK

The UK wants greater use of carbon credits from the Kyoto Protocol’s clean development mechanism and joint implementation programme to help EU member states meet their greenhouse gas emission reduction targets

Last year, EU leaders agreed to cut EU emissions by 20% on 1990 levels by 2020. According to proposals issued by the European Commission last month, most of the cuts would be achieved by installations covered by an expanded EU emissions trading scheme with a centrally set cap. But targets to cut emissions from sectors outside the EUETS, such as transport, agriculture and waste management, will be allocated to member states on the basis of their wealth.

The Commission has proposed limiting countries’ use of Kyoto credits to 3% of their 2005 emission levels. But the UK was one of several countries at the Environment council meeting in Brussels on Monday to call for a higher figure.

A majority of the EU’s central and east European countries demanded greater scope to spread reduction efforts between sectors covered by the EUETS and those currently outside its scope.

Many delegations urged the Commission to identify more quickly those energy-intensive industries at risk of “carbon leakage” – the transfer of manufacturing capacity to non-EU countries with lower emission standards. The Commission has promised to conduct an assessment by 2010, before tabling proposals in 2011, of which sectors could receive compensation.

A significant minority of countries, including Germany, Sweden and the Netherlands, urged the Commission to specify burden sharing figures for a 30% emissions cut by 2020, which the EU has pledged to achieve if other developed countries follow suit.

On carbon capture and storage, several countries said the new rules should promote mineral and chemical sequestration of carbon as well as geological storage.

Environment ministers remain split over the best way to cut carbon dioxide emissions from new cars. The Commission wants to cut average emissions 10 130g/km by 2012, and proposes individual targets for each manufacturer based on the average mass of their EU fleet.

Several countries without a significant domestic manufacturing industry called for the proposals to include a longer-term target for 2020. Denmark called for a limit of 100g/km, while the Netherlands proposed an indicative target of 80g/km.

Environmental group T&E welcomed the “broadly positive response” of environment ministers to legally binding targets but urged member states to back longer-term targets and robust penalties. It also called for standards to be based on cars’ footprints – equivalent to the area between the four wheels – rather than their weight.

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