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21st Jan 2019

Brussels to take legal action against EU states on lack of CO2 plans

Brussels is set to take legal action against nine EU member states for having failed to present the European Commission with plans on how they will cut their greenhouse gasses between 2008 and 2012 – an important part of the EU strategy to reach its Kyoto commitments.

"We are going to start infringement procedures in a few days" against the nine countries that have failed to submit plans, EU environment commissioner Stavros Dimas said on Tuesday (10 October), according to AFP.

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Austria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Hungary, Italy, Portugal, Slovenia and Spain will be sent a formal notice on Thursday.

The notice is the first step in legal action against member states who then have two months to answer before further action can be taken.

By Monday (9 October) only 16 countries had handed in their plans – many of them after the 30 June deadline. Six member states had simply presented their draft proposals while three countries - the Czech Republic, Denmark and Hungary - have not presented anything.

"We are going to be tough but fair. We are determined to achieve our Kyoto protocol targets" on reducing CO2 emissions, Mr Dimas told a group of journalists in Helsinki.

The emissions trading scheme (ETS) was launched in January 2005 to put a ceiling on the total emissions by major industrial energy users and reduce carbon dioxide emissions - widely blamed for climate change.

The exchange scheme is the bloc's main tool for achieving the 2012 targets under the international Kyoto protocol on climate change.

The EU's ten newest member states that joined in May 2004, are not obliged to reach the 8 percent Kyoto target but are still expected to submit national allocation plans.

The commission was set to respond to the allocation plans within three months of the June deadline but has been delayed due to member state delays, incomplete plans or lack of plans.

The earliest assessments of the plans will come in May, according to the commission.

Not good enough

However, environmental group WWF warns that the allocation plans already presented to the commission are weak.

Some of the worst offenders are Ireland, Spain and Poland who plan to permit many more credits to be used than are needed to meet their overall emissions targets, according to the preliminary findings from a report made for the WWF by consultancy group Ecofys.

The Polish plan stands out for being particularly weak. "The commission should just send it back and say "rewrite"," Delia Villagrasa from WWF told EUobserver on Thursday (5 October).

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