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 July 15, 2006
EU emissions caps to rise

 Turku, Finland (GLOBE-Net) -- Limits for dioxide emissions will be tightened in the second round of the European Union's emissions trading scheme, says the EU Environment Commissioner.

When asked about tightening the limit on emissions for the second period, Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said: "Definitely, and I'm determined to be tough but fair in assessing the member's allocation plans," reports Reuters.

The 15 original EU members are signatories to the Kyoto Protocol and must reduce greenhouse gas emissions by eight percent compared to 1990 levels by the time the first phase of the treaty ends in 2012. New members are not bound by a target but are still expected to submit national plans.

The trading system was destabilized when countries released their 2005 emissions data in May, showing a surplus of credits and causing prices on the booming carbon market to plummet. Almost all European Union states missed the deadline to set caps on CO2 emissions for the second trading period. So far only Germany, Estonia, Poland and Lithuania have submitted their plans.

However, many analysts believe the volatility was the result of growing pains for a new and innovative market, and believe that carbon will continue to be a valuable commodity and successful market instrument for cutting emissions.

Dimas told Reuters he was committed to achieving the 8 percent cut and sees the trading system as an effective method for obtaining it. "I think it's perhaps the basic instrument right now in order to achieve reduction of carbon dioxide in the most economic and cost efficient way," he said.

Dimas added that EU member states must take their previous over-allocation into account when preparing plans for the next trading phase.

"I'm going to repeat tomorrow (in the ministers' sessions), that the allocation plans are to be submitted as soon as possible. I hope we are going to have most the national plans within July," Dimas said.

He said he expected to receive "a few more" plans in the coming days on top of the 5-6 submitted emission plans.

The European Environment Agency recently released figures showing that the EU is falling short of reaching its emissions targets under the Kyoto Protocol. Greenhouse gas emissions actually increased for the second consecutive year, rising by 18 million tonnes (0.4%) between 2003 and 2004, said the Agency.

"An increase of 0.4 percent may appear small; however, the magnitude of emissions is such that the actual increase is significant", said Jacqueline McGlade, director of the agency.

"Despite the various policy initiatives, this report highlights that the trend is still going in the wrong direction. Europe must implement all planned policies and measures relating to reducing greenhouse gas emissions", she added.

For the third period beginning in 2013, one idea that has been floated is a single, EU-wide emissions cap, rather than individual country limits. The trading system could also be expanded to include other gases besides carbon dioxide, say EU environment officials.