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 October 22, 2009
Russia's 'hot air' threatens UN climate deal

 EurActiv - The European Union is wondering what to do with billions of unused pollution credits accumulated by Russia, Ukraine and other former communist states of Eastern Europe under the Kyoto Protocol as lawmakers worry about the continuity of the carbon market beyond 2012.

Environment ministers from the 27-member bloc met in Luxembourg this week to thrash out the position that the European Union will take to UN climate talks in December.

But as an international agreement slowly takes shape, the question of what to do with the billions of unused pollution credits accumulated during the 2008-2012 period has become the "elephant in the room" for negotiators.

"There is a lot of money involved," said the European Commission’s environment spokesperson Barbara Helfferich. "We haven’t clarified our position on this in detail," she told EurActiv after the ministers’ meeting on Wednesday.

Kyoto legacy

Under the Kyoto Protocol, countries were granted a certain number of permits to release greenhouse gases in the atmosphere called Assigned Amount Units (AAUs), which are equivalent to one tonne of CO2.

Kyoto targets were decided based on 1990 emission levels. But in the wake of massive de-industrialization that followed the fall of communism, Eastern European countries are now finding themselves sitting on a huge stockpile of unused pollution credits.

"The Russians have accumulated something like five billion units" during 2008-2012, said an EU diplomat from one of the large EU member states. "This is enormous," he added, saying the amount is equivalent to the effort expected from the entire EU during the upcoming 2013-2020 period.

For More Information: EurActiv