EU Polluters to Buy CO2 Credits in 2013
EU member states have unanimously backed commission proposals that will see carbon-emitting industries buy roughly half of their emission allowances from 2013 onwards.
The agreement by a committee of national experts this week (14 July) relates to phase three of the EU's emissions trading system (ETS), with companies currently receiving their allowances for free.
Under the plans, Brussels has pushed the idea of a single European auctioning system to sell the pollution permits in the future.
This, it argues, will maximise auctioning efficiency and keep carbon prices sufficiently high to bring down emissions, the ultimate aim behind cap and trade schemes.
While agreeing to the single platform in theory, member states voiced concerns it could potentially have a negative impact on national trading systems, leading them to insist on the right to opt out from the EU-wide scheme at a later date.
Poland, the UK, Germany and Spain were chief among those expressing concerns.
As part of the agreement, Europe's embattled aviation sector will also be brought into the bloc's emission's trading system from 2012, with 15 percent of allowances to be auctioned, a proportion set to remain the same in subsequent years.
EU climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard welcomed the deal despite the opt outs.
"I am satisfied to see that member states have found a compromise that will provide a basis for a solid common auction platform," said the Danish politician who hosted the UN climate change conference in Copenhagen 2009 before joining the EU executive in February.
She added that governments wishing to leave the common platform would first have to meet "certain criteria that ensure the proper functioning of auctions and the carbon market."
This week's deal will now see the commission submit the draft regulation to the European Parliament for a three-month scrutiny period.
Provided the parliament does not raise objections, the new rules will then become law.
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