France to Cut But Keep Generous CO2 Cap in 2008-12
Author: Muriel Boselli
All European Union states must submit their pollution plans for the period, the second round of the bloc's carbon market, to the European Commission by June 30. The Commission can reject plans that it considers too soft on pollution.
France said it wanted to cut its current emissions cap by 4.2 percent, but this would still be nearly 20 million tonnes higher than the country's emissions in 2005 of heat-trapping carbon dioxide (CO2).
In addition, an environment ministry official said that France wanted to let industry keep any surplus pollution permits it builds up in the current first phase of the carbon trading scheme, 2005-07, potentially undermining the phase 2 limits.
The official estimated that the surplus would be some 15 million tonnes of CO2 per year in phase 1.
The French ministry has posted the planned proposal on its website and will consult the public until the end of July.
"We will send a letter to Brussels this week on the quota project to make sure they don't worry," a second ministry spokesman said.
Environmental groups said the plan was not ambitious enough.
"The government once again has taken into account the emission needs of industrial sectors as opposed to an approach based on the goal France has to reach to respect the Kyoto agreement," said the Climate Action Network (RAC), which groups non-governmental organisations such as Greenpeace and WWF.
The French plan proposes a CO2 quota of 154.7 million tonnes per year against the current 156.1 million tonnes in the first phase of the scheme (2005-07). The new quota includes 5 million tonnes of emissions by sectors, such as chemicals, not previously covered by the scheme.
But the limit is way above actual CO2 emissions by industry involved in the scheme -- 131 million tonnes in 2005, or 136 million tonnes including the proposed additional emissions.
The government also said it was considering auctioning up to 10 percent of its quotas.
The proposed quota is split as follows: 5 million tonnes to installations not previously covered, 79.9 million tonnes for the industrial sector, 61.77 million tonnes for the energy sector and 8 million tonnes in reserve for future new power plants.
The second ministry spokesman said the quota cut especially targeted the energy sector.
"The sector was over-allocated in the first period so we have used more a more realistic hypothesis this time," he said.