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The European Union approved tougher energy-saving rules while pursuing a separate plan to limit their impact on demand for allowances to discharge carbon dioxide in the world’s biggest emissions-trading market.
The European Parliament endorsed a draft law that will require energy distributors to save 1.5 percent of their sale volumes annually. The legislation will also force central governments in the 27-nation EU to refurbish at least 3 percent of their buildings to higher efficiency standards every year.
“It’s good news for jobs in Europe,” said Claude Turmes, a Luxembourg member who steered the measures through the 754- seat Parliament today in Strasbourg, France. The bloc’s national governments have already signaled support for the law, making their final approval a formality in coming weeks.
In parallel, the European Commission is pressing ahead with a plan to counter an oversupply of CO2 permits in the EU emissions-trading market after a 37 percent drop in prices in the past year. The commission, the bloc’s regulatory arm in Brussels, is preparing a proposal to postpone sales of an as-yet unspecified number of allowances starting in 2013.
Parliament and member-state negotiators struck an agreement on the energy-efficiency draft legislation in June, when the assembly abandoned a campaign to enshrine in the law the EU’s right to set aside a certain number of CO2 allowances because governments refused to accept such a link. Greater energy efficiency has the potential to curb demand for emission permits, whose price decline in the third year of the euro-area debt crisis has reduced incentives for power plants and factories to switch to cleaner fuels.
EU Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard facilitated the climb-down by the Parliament in mid-year by pledging at the time to come forward with measures on her own to address the oversupply of CO2 allowances.
The commission presented the draft energy-efficiency law in 2011 without proposing any changes to the emissions-trading system, which imposes pollution quotas on more than 11,000 installations owned by companies including Electricite de France SA, Europe’s biggest power generator, and Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSA), the region’s largest oil company.
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