ESC weighs in on renewables, emission trading

EU advisory body adopts opinions on draft renewables directive, emissions trading paper

The EU's advisory body representing workers, employers and other interest groups yesterday adopted opinions on the European Commission's draft renewable energy directive and green paper on greenhouse gas emissions trading. On the renewables directive, the Economic and Social Committee (ESC) concludes that the Commission's proposals are "flawed in a number of key respects".

Drafted by Ulla Sirkeinen of the Confederation of Finnish Industry, the opinion claims that conflicts could arise between the renewables directive and EU countries' Kyoto protocol commitments. In particular, it says, a member state might attain its Kyoto emission reduction target while still not meeting the directive's indicative renewables target.

This aside, the ESC supports the Commission's view that it is too early to decide on a common EU-wide support system for renewable energies. It suggests that one eventual element should perhaps be a fixed cap on total national support.

In a separate, own-initiative report on renewable energies, the ESC suggests a greater EU focus on development of renewable energy in rural areas. It calls for a specific policy initiative for sustainable rural development.

In its opinion on greenhouse gas emissions trading, the ESC stresses that trading should supplement, not replace, planned national actions to reduce emissions. It proposes that any EU-wide trading scheme should be based on an EU regulation rather than a directive. This would give member states no leeway to interpret the rules as they wished.

Drafted by Gafo Fernández of the Spanish Employers' Association (CEOE), the opinion opposes absolute emission ceilings for sectors or companies, which it says would generate "intractable problems". The scheme should start just with installations regulated under the EU's large combustion plant directive and should then be gradually expanded, it adds.

Follow Up:
ESC, tel: +32 2 546 9207.

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