Feb 25, 2008

Climate Change: EU Sees The Reality - Why Won't New Zealand?

The European Commission, bowing to industry concerns, said Thursday it was ready to exempt Europe's steel, chemical and power sectors from having to compensate for the environmental damage they cause — at least for a while.

The EU was keen to see a global deal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and, until a deal was in place, the EU would hold back on plans to force more companies to pay to pollute from 2013, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso told European business leaders.

Last month, the EU executive said it would demand that major polluters buy all the carbon permits they need, which would raise the cost of manufacturing by charging them up to €50 billion (US$74 billion) a year and likely hike electricity prices by 10-15 percent.

Until now, companies get most of their carbon permits for free — and they say extra costs will make it harder for them to compete against rivals in countries that are less active in curbing climate change such as the U.S., China and India.

Barroso's comments aimed to soothe those worries.

"Ultimately, the best solution is an international (emissions trading) agreement," he said.

We agree