Commission to detail EU climate policy choices

Emissions trading pilot scheme, more voluntary agreements, proposed by DGXI

The European Commission's environment directorate (DGXI) has drafted a detailed report on the measures that the EU needs to take to ensure it reaches its greenhouse gas reduction commitments under the Kyoto climate change protocol.

Despite the Commission's current policy of avoiding proposing new measures while it is in a "caretaker" capacity since March's resignation crisis, ENDS Daily understands that the paper will be put forward for adoption by the acting heads of the executive next week. The report, - which sets out timetables for action, - was initially requested by EU government heads to form the basis of a discussion at their next summit in Cologne in June (ENDS Daily 28 January).

Among the document's many proposals is that the EU should work towards its own emissions trading system by 2005 - to get ready for an international system that should be running from 2008. Work on this would begin next year with the publication of a Commission "green paper" followed by stakeholder consultation. DGXI suggests that the EU pilot should initially be restricted to the largest emitters of carbon dioxide, possibly in just one sector. This could later be expanded to include other sectors and gases.

The green paper will look at issues such as whether private companies - rather than just national governments - should be allowed to participate in emissions trading. If they are, DGXI concludes, they would have to be subject to a ceiling on their emissions, set out in an environmental agreement.

Such voluntary agreements by industry sectors - like last year's undertaking by the car manufacturers' association Acea (ENDS Daily 6 October 1998) - could form a key part of the EU's strategy on climate change, the paper says. Interested industry associations are invited to come with proposals before the end of this year.

The paper also says more action is needed to combat the three halogenated gases covered by the Kyoto protocol - hydrofluorocarbons, perfluourocarbons and sulphur hexafluoride - but says more data on emissions is required. It asks industry to come forward with this information so that policy options can be considered.

The draft paper also expresses DGXI's exasperation that EU governments have failed to agree to EU-wide minimum taxation levels on carbon or energy - "one of the most important common and co-ordinated measures" - and urges energy ministers to adopt the Commission's most recent proposal, on energy products (ENDS Daily 5 April).

Follow Up:
European Commission, tel: +32 2 295 1111.

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