EU Officials Criticize New Europe For Trading Carbon Credits
Photo: Postimees / Scanpix
European climate change officials have rapped Estonia and other new member states for heavy trading of their carbon credits, saying that the practice is at cross-purposes to the spirit of Kyoto and other environmental accords.
Estonia began trading its allowances as part of an effort to raise money to balance the state budget during the recession. In 2010-2011 it is expected to sell a total of about 141 million euros worth of the so-called Assigned Amount Units (AAU).
Connie Hedegaard, European Commissioner for Climate Action, said the amount of AAUs currently owned by Russia and the EU - 11 billion tons - is the same as the amount of carbon emissions the EU wants to conserve in the next ten years, Postimees reported.
The head of the European Commission directorate general on climate change, Jos Delbeke, said they have counseled new member states to reconsider selling them.
"We have told the new member states what will happen when Russia and Ukraine bring their AAUs to market. The market will be swamped, because Russia has so many unused AAUs that the price per unit will be one euro cent," said Delbeke.
Russia is not currently permitted to trade its AAUs.
Estonian Ministry of the Environment under secretary Allan Gromov says Estonia would be ready to give up AAUs in exchange for certain compensation but added it was too early to discuss the matter.
The EU Emissions Trading System (ETS), which is the world’s largest cap-and-trade program, was launched in 2005 to address climate change under the Kyoto Protocol. Installations must have an allowance for each ton of carbon dioxide they emit in burning fossil fuels.
A number of European climate change officials are seeking an end to allocations of AAUs in future periods and avoiding sales of AAUs outside the EU, but concede it is impossible to enforce because trading is allowed under the Kyoto Protocol.