EU Votes For Tougher Carbon Laws

by | Oct 8, 2008

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europe.jpgEuropean legislators have voted for a tougher emissions trading scheme and committed about $13.6 billion to help build as many as a dozen power stations to capture and store carbon dioxide, Financial Times reports.

Industries will also be required to buy emission permits and not get them for free. But the environmental committee did offer some concessions, allowing energy-intensive industries a phase-in period. Starting 2013, they would have to buy only 15 percent of their emissions allowance, down from the 20 percent figure set earlier this year. But that will increase to 100 percent by 2020.

According to BBC, Poland is among several countries seeking to protect their industries from having to buy the permits. Poland, which relies on coal for more than 90 percent of its electricity, says the tougher scheme would reduce its energy independence and make it costly to comply with the regulations.

Just this week, New York Times reported that Poland was leading the charge to delay European climate reforms. It reached an accord with Hungary, Slovakia, Bulgaria and Romania, last week.

Ministers from those five countries issued a joint statement and called for a more gradual approach to the reforms. Poland reportedly has also reached a similar agreement with Greece. The alliance could give countries opposed to tougher carbon rules enough voting power to stall climate reforms.

However, a study by Climate Strategies, which the BBC reported on, warns that if the alliance succeeds, the EU will lose its most powerful weapon in the fight for a new climate policy. In addition, the E.U. governments would have less power to push other governments into following tougher carbon rules during negotiations in December at the U.N. Climate Change Conference.

Although the EU backed tougher emission rules, a global pact to tackle climate change is far from a done deal. Yu Qingtai, China’s special representative for climate change talks, told Reuters that he is not optimistic about negotiations to seek a global treaty on climate change. Yu says the climate pact could fail because rich countries are failing to deliver on promises of technological and financial assistance to poorer countries.

Poland is not alone in attempting to dilute the EU’s climate policy. In September, leaked documents revealed that Britain is trying to weaken European proposals to reduce carbon emissions by 20 percent by 2020. Businesses in Australia, Germany and the U.S. have also warned that EU’s CO2 plan would bring sky-high carbon taxes and threaten the industry’s competitiveness and jobs.

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