Commission approves Polish CO2 plan after lengthy legal tussle
The European Commission on Monday gave the green light to Poland's plan for handing out CO2 emissions permits to its power and industrial sectors following a long-drawn-out battle between Brussels and Warsaw.
The EU executive "took a decision on the new national allocation plan (NAP) submitted by Poland for distributing carbon dioxide emission allowances for the 2008-2012 trading period of the EU Emissions Trading System," it said in a statement. "It did not raise any objections."
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Climate action commissioner Connie Hedegaard said: "I warmly welcome the decision by Poland to submit an allocation plan consistent with the methodology used for all other member states."
"The commission's decision has removed uncertainty for Polish companies and most importantly maintains the environmental integrity of the EU ETS," she added.
Under the EU's emissions trading scheme, the bloc's main pillar of its climate policy, major carbon emitters must submit annually a number of emission allowances to their government that are equivalent to their CO2 emissions for that year. If they do not release as much carbon as their allocation, they can sell on their surplus allowances. If they exceed their carbon allowances, they are obliged to purchase extra.
The main fault with the ETS however has been that member states, responsible for emissions allowance allocations, have over-allocated allowances.
As a result, from 2012, the emissions allowances will be centralised in the hands of the commission, ending the system of national allocation plans (NAPs).
Until then, the commission has the power to review these plans.
Back in 2007, Brussels ruled that the country's national allocation plan, or NAP, which would see 285 million tonnes per year handed out for the 2008-12 period, was too high, arguing the plan should be reduced to 208.5 million tonnes.
Poland in response brought an action for annulment against this decision before the Court of First Instance.
In September last year, the court found that in limiting the NAPs of Estonia and Poland, had "exceeded the limits of its power of review," establishing that the commission only had the power to reject or approve a NAP, but not set the target.
So, in December, in line with the ruling, the commission adopted a decision rejecting the original NAP in its entirety.
As a result of the rejection, on 9 April this year, Poland submitted a new NAP, about which the commission found no reason for concern, as the new plan maintains the total amount of allowances at 208.5 Mt per year.
"The only change to the earlier NAP concerns some technical rules governing the reserve of allowances not allocated to companies," said the commission.