Wednesday 16 January 2008

EU to demand big cuts in CO2 emissions

IRELAND will be asked to make huge cuts in its CO2 emissions and to vastly increase the amount of energy from renewables in the EU’s climate change plan to be published next week.

The country has one of the worst records for cutting greenhouse gas emissions and figures out today for 2006 show a 25.5% increase on 1990 levels compared to its 13% target.

But with EU plans to link a country’s GDP to cuts in harmful emissions and increased use of fossil fuel replacements, Ireland could find itself with some of the most difficult targets to meet in the EU as its GDP is second highest, at more than 40% above the EU average.

Irish Examiner

Environment commissioner Stavros Dimas said they believed the poorer countries should be allowed higher emissions, as they need to grow their industry.

But to balance this, countries with higher GDPs should carry a greater share of the burden.

Referring to Germany, he said that with a 10% higher than average GDP it would have to make a slightly disproportionately higher contribution.

“The more wealth there is, the more emissions must decline,” he said in a German magazine interview. His fellow commissioner responsible for energy, Andris Piebalgs, is planning to apply the same principle to targets for renewables to be met by 2020.

He will say that every country must increase its usage of renewables by 5.75% over the 2005 rate, and increase this by an additional percentage depending on GDP.

The average of this amount will be 5.75%, but Ireland, with the second highest GDP in the union, will have to meet an increase of more than 11.5%.

This will be a substantial challenge as it is one of the lowest users of renewable energy at just 3.1% compared to Latvia with 34.9%.

Negotiations on the final plans for each member state are still under way, with several countries applying maximum pressure to the European Commission to change their demands before the papers are published next Wednesday.

Some of the main sticking points are around the targets for renewables, with countries like Sweden, with 40% of its energy needs from renewables, pointing out that to increase this by more than 11% will be particularly difficult for them.

On the other hand Spain, France and Britain are demanding the targets be lowered as they fear it will affect their economies. France wants credit for its huge nuclear energy programme, which emits few greenhouse gases, while Germany and Spain fear plans to trade renewable energy may encourage too much selling of green energy across borders.

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