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Leaked Paper Exposes EU Countries’ Abuse Of Climate Loophole

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EurActive

European Union countries exploited loopholes in United Nations forestry rules to pocket carbon credits worth €600 million and the equivalent of global-warming emissions from 114 million cars.

European Commission analysis, obtained by EURACTIV.com, exposed how by overstating their logging targets, governments scooped up carbon credits. These can be used to offset emissions from polluting sectors under the UN’s Kyoto Protocol.

Forests remove CO2 from the atmosphere. Countries were rewarded for undercutting their exaggerated UN felling targets, which were reported to the European Commission.

Forestry is not regulated under the bloc’s Emissions Trading System (ETS), the world’s largest carbon market. But efforts are underway to bring them under EU oversight in the draft Effort-Sharing Regulation.

The Commission “non-paper” was prepared in a bid to convince some EU member states to drop their opposition to the new rules.  It revealed that the problem was potentially up to 30% worse than first suspected.

In 2013-2014, the most recent years available, member states picked up a windfall of 120 million tonnes worth of carbon credits.

Those free credits, worth about €5 each at today’s EU carbon price, represent the same CO2 as the annual emissions of the four most polluting coal stations in Europe.

The document said that leaving the loophole open risked 133 million tonnes of unearned carbon credits falling into governments hands.

133 million tonnes is worth €665 million at today’s carbon price and is equivalent to 127 million cars on the road.

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