Thursday, April 03, 2008
Source. Like you couldn't have seen this one coming. The fight over how much now to reduce caps will be political, not scientific.
The European Union's greenhouse-gas emissions from key industries rose 1.1% last year, despite its antipollution policies, demonstrating the difficulty in meeting international commitments to fight climate change.
Carbon-dioxide emissions reached 1.914 billion metric tons last year in the sectors covered by Europe's Emission Trading Scheme, according to an analysis of data by Oslo-based Point Carbon, a carbon market-research and consulting firm. The data released Wednesday aren't complete, because some companies' results are still trickling in, but it represents about 93% of the total, according to the EU Web site.
For the past three years, Europe has been trying to reduce emissions by imposing a market-based cap-and-trade system. Industries such as power generators, steel, cement and aluminum are supposed to cap the amount of carbon dioxide they spew. If they can't make their targets, they must buy permits to emit carbon on the open market.
By forcing companies to buy and sell the right to pollute, Europe's system is supposed to give them a financial incentive to clean up their acts. It is also supposed to provide European countries with a way to meet their commitments to the Kyoto Protocol, the United Nations accord that set emissions-cutting targets for the 175 nations that ratified it for the period between this year and 2012.
Some 11,500 factories, oil refineries, steel mills and other installations are covered by the EU scheme, accounting for about half of Europe's total emissions. There is still no limit on the other half, produced by everything from cars and planes to buildings and retail outlets.
But the caps that the EU set for different industries turned out to be too high. As a result, instead of shrinking, as was originally envisioned, emissions in these industries have crept up by about 1% each year since the program began.