Poland to Seek Carbon Fix Details at EU Ministerial Meeting

Poland has asked the European Union to provide at a ministerial meeting on Oct. 25 more details on the timeline for a draft plan to curtail an oversupply of carbon permits, Polish Environment Minister Marcin Korolec said.

“Poland has asked that the European Commission present at the council of ministers in October information on the date of an impact assessment and that the presidency present its agenda,” Korolec said yesterday in an interview.

EU governments are considering a strategy proposed by the commission, the bloc’s regulatory arm, to delay auctions of some emission allowances as of 2013 to help prices in the world’s biggest cap-and-trade program recover. The plan requires quality-majority backing from national governments and approval by the European Parliament to be enacted.

European carbon permits for 2012 sank to a record low of 5.99 euros ($7.75) in April after the financial crisis boosted an excess of allowances to 950 million metric tons at the end of 2011, according to EU estimates, or almost a half of an average annual pollution limit in the program. The EU plan to curtail the oversupply consists of two elements, an amendment to the EU law to clarify the commission’s right to decide on timing of auctions and a separate measure to “backload” an as-yet unspecified number of permits.

EU Intervention

Ministers from Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia held a meeting yesterday in Warsaw to discuss the backloading plan and the EU’s position for the United Nations climate summit in Doha, Qatar, due to start on Nov. 26, Korolec said. Poland has repeatedly said it objects to the idea of an EU intervention in the carbon market to delay auctions.

“The countries that we met are skeptical about backloading and they are highlighting the lack of an impact assessment,” Korolec said. “There are many weeks of work ahead of us, we are only at the beginning of a long road. The issue is so serious that we can’t hurry and use shortcuts.”

The commission, which submitted the draft change to the EU emissions law and an outline of the backloading measure to member states in July, is working on an assessment of the impact of auction delays and is planning to present the document in the coming weeks, Jos Delbeke, its director general for climate, said on Oct. 2. The impact assessment will give the commission the basis for deciding about the number of permits to be delayed.

Carbon Auctions

EU Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard said in July that she aimed for a decision on the backloading measure, which was proposed as an amendment to the bloc’s regulation on carbon auctions, before the end of this year. Denmark’s Climate and Energy Minister Martin Lidegaard said yesterday in an interview that he hopes the EU will agree “within months” on how to improve the bloc’s emissions trading system before 2020.

The six countries that met yesterday also discussed the use of UN emission permits after the climate-protection Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012, Korolec said. The EU’s position on the carry-over of surplus Assigned Amount Units, or AAUs, will be an element of its negotiating strategy at the next climate summit in Doha, Qatar.

Central and east European countries led by Poland have objected to curbs on the use of surplus AAUs for the 2008-2012 period, arguing they reflect deeper-than-required emission cuts. The six nations are unanimous on what the EU position on AAUs should be in a political statement that will follow the Oct. 25 meeting, Korolec said.

“They should be carried over to the next period,” he said. “It should be a regulated market, meaning revenue from their sales should be spent on pro-climate goals. But there’s in principle no consent for curbs.”

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