23 January 2008 17:14 [Source: ICIS news]
(Releads and updates with reaction throughout)
By Philippa Jones
PARIS (ICIS news)--The European Commission’s (EC's) climate change bill has received praise and criticism from industry and environmentalists, suggesting Brussels has hit the right balance between protecting business and tackling climate change.
Cefic, the European Chemical Industry Council, had called for a “sustainable CO2 [carbon dioxide] emission trading system” to ensure a competitive chemical industry in ?xml:namespace>
The commission’s proposals went some way to alleviating fears that the climate bill would leave European industry unable to compete with countries with less stringent environmental legislation.
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Greenpeace called the climate package a “good but faltering start”.
“The Commission fixes some of the major flaws of the existing trading scheme,” said Mahi Sideridou, Greenpeace’s EU climate and energy policy director.
“Most importantly, it decreases the amount of carbon permits that will be handed out for free and sets the same rules for all industry sectors, no matter where they are located in Europe,” she added.
Her colleague Frauke Thies welcomed the 20% renewable energy target, but expressed concerns about the “environmental and social impacts” of the 10% biofuels target.
“The biofuels target is a mistake,” said Thies. “Biomass is more efficiently used for electricity and heat production, rather than to fuel high-consumption cars.”
Other environmentalists were concerned the EC had focused its package around a 20% cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 rather than the 30% generally agreed by scientists as necessary to stop global warming at degrees celcius above 1990 levels.
“Basing the emissions cap under the Emissions Trading Scheme on a 20% reduction assumption displays pessimism on the outcome of international climate negotiations and sends the wrong signal to the rest of world,” said Finnish Green member of the European Parliament (MEP) Satu Hassi.
“The Commission's pessimism also prevailed in the treatment of energy-intensive sectors under the next round of the Emissions Trading Scheme,” she added.
“There should be no unfair environmental dumping against EU energy-intensive sectors. In exempting these sectors from auctioning until 2020, the commission is starting from the negative assumption that no other countries will introduce binding measures to reduce emissions from these sectors.”
Friends of the Earth led the criticism against the commission’s 10% biofuels target.
"Growing crops to fuel our thirsty and inefficient cars will be a disaster for the environment and is a false solution to climate change,” said Adrian Bebb, agrofuels campaign coordinator for Friends of the Earth Europe.
”Any claims that biofuels are sustainable will be a sour joke for the world's poor who will be forced to pay more for their food,” he added.
Meanwhile, the European Biodiesel Board welcomed the 10% target, but suggested that a 14% minimum binding target would have been the ideal basis for the promotion of biofuels.
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