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 user 2007-01-10 at 12:53:00 pm Views: 58
  • #16981

    New EU path on climate and energy
    European Commission is due to unveil a wide-ranging set of proposals on
    energy and climate issues.It will include targets on reducing
    greenhouse gas emissions and increasing use of renewables, and measures
    to free competition among energy providers.The Commission aims to set a
    global benchmark for reducing emissions when Kyoto Protocol targets
    expire in 2012.The package of measures will have to be approved by
    European governments before it can come into force.Analysts anticipate
    disagreement on some of the likely proposals, notably on freeing up
    competition in energy supply.The launch will come at 1230 local time in
    Brussels (1130 GMT) at the end of a meeting of commissioners from the
    various European directorates.

    Road block
    In recent years the
    European Union has been the most powerful political voice urging
    targets on reducing greenhouse gas emissions beyond the current Kyoto
    period.But at the latest UN climate meeting its attempts to get new
    targets debated met with failure. The Commission is now likely to urge
    that all developed countries across the world adopt a goal of cuts in
    the order of 30% by 2020.If other developed nations demur, the
    Commission will argue that Europe should set itself a less stringent
    unilateral target.Its principal tool for achieving cuts would be an
    enhanced Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS). But that only affects
    businesses, leaving emissions from road transport and domestic heat and
    power unaffected.A voluntary agreement under which car manufacturers
    promised to increase the efficiency of their products has not produced
    the results which the Commission wanted, and it may now propose a
    mandatory regime.In October the EU announced a set of about 75 measures
    aimed at increasing energy efficiency overall by 20% by 2020, and the
    Commission may urge setting a comparable 20% by 2020 target for
    renewable energy.

    Competing interests
    On the business side,
    the Commission is likely to propose an enhanced “unbundling” of energy
    supply across the continent in a bid to increase competition.In the
    last three years it has raided the offices of energy firms it believed
    were operating uncompetitively, and warned 17 member states for failing
    to implement competition legislation; but it is poised now to go
    further.New measures could include “unbundling” the ownership of energy
    businesses to avoid conflicts of interest.It may propose that companies
    generating electricity and distributing it would not be permitted to
    have owners in common; gas production companies would be divorced from
    pipeline operators.But analysts believe these measures may not meet
    with the approval of all Europe’s national governments.Some countries
    have historically preferred a more joined-up approach to the power
    business, while new entrants to the EU might argue the free market,
    competition-based model is not appropriate for them.A tough stance on
    greenhouse gas emissions may also prove controversial, with several
    European governments having recently sought to increase their emissions
    under the ETS.Ministers are likely to debate the Commission’s proposals
    in March.