21 EU Nations Ready to Make Kyoto Emissions Cuts
BRUSSELS, Belgium The European Union head office said it approved a further five national emissions trading plans Thursday, as the EU began participating in the Kyoto climate change pact this month.
However, a further four -- from Greece, Italy, Poland and the Czech Republic -- still needed to be approved, it said.
The European Commission said it accepted five further plans Thursday, from Cyprus, Hungary, Lithuania, Malta and Spain.
EU Environment Commissioner Stravros Dimas said his office expected to approve the outstanding plans "as soon as possible," likely within the next few weeks, he said in a statement.
Dimas said the EU head office had to ensure that "these member states can take part fully in the European emission trading scheme, which has now formally started."
The emissions trading plans are at the heart of the EU's policy to cut greenhouse carbon dioxide emissions in a cost-effective way.
The plans are a key part in the EU's implementation of the 1997 Kyoto global climate change pact, which commits the 25-nation EU to cut its emissions of carbon dioxide by 8 percent from 1990 levels by 2012. So far, emissions are down only 2.9 percent.
The latest approvals covers pollution quotas for some 1,300 industrial sites, most of which are power plants and factories, the EU said.
The EU aims to involve some 12,000 such sites under its scheme.
Under the trading system, European companies that emit less carbon dioxide than allowed under set quotas can sell unused allotments to those who overshoot the target. The profit motive is expected to drive efforts and technology and bring "substantial cuts" in emissions of carbon dioxide, which makes up 80 percent of the EU's greenhouse gases, EU officials have said.
EU governments have to have their emissions plans up and running by March 1 at the latest. If they do not they could face hefty fines from the European Commission, which is overseeing its implementation.
Source: Associated Press