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Set Climate Change Limits — Says EU

  • October 31st, 2007
  • Posted by EUEditor

industry-pollution-ec.jpgSquabbling over climate change policy in the Australian election campaign coincided this week with initiatives in Europe pursuing mandatory goals for reducing air pollution.

Other countries have been called on to join in an ambitious carbon trading scheme being operated up by the European Union – with developed countries taking the first initiative.

This week also saw the formal implementation of the new Europe-wide law imposing tight controls on industrial air pollution.


The European Commission President, Jose Manuel Barroso announced (29.10.07) an expansion of the EU’s Emission Trading Scheme (EU-ETS), at Lisbon, saying the city had become the “climate change capital of the world”.

The new program brings in the American states of California, New Jersey and New York, to join eight European Union countries — Portugal, Germany, Britain, France, Italy, Spain, The Netherlands — and New Zealand, Norway, and the Canadian region of British Columbia, to create a new International Carbon Action Partnership (ICAP).

Consultations have taken place between Europe and several States in the USA, and also Australian state authorities, bypassing the two federal governments.

He said the new program would be a step towards a global carbon market that would help finance the transition to a low-carbon world economy.

“At the same time, we will be sending an important signal to others, just one month before the UN climate conference in Bali,” he said.

“We will be saying that leaders with vision from across the developed world can work together to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; can put in place the tools … so essential if we are to succeed in tackling the greatest challenge of our generation.


“We need bold action now to start the transition to a low-carbon economy, and we are convinced that global greenhouse gas emissions need to be cut to at least 50% of their 1990 levels by 2050, to avoid the worst impact of climate change.

“Developed countries have a special responsibility to take the lead in cutting emissions and pushing a comprehensive, global agreement on future climate action, in the UN framework, for the period beyond 2012.

“At the same time, we must also push for a strengthened carbon market; the two go hand in hand …Putting a price on carbon is the vital ‘pull factor’ needed to ensure a healthy market for clean technologies.”

The European Union set up its Greenhouse Gas Emission Trading Scheme (EU-ETS) under law, as European Directive 2003/87/EC, on 25.10.03.


Another European law, to pull back air pollution from industrial plants, formally came into force this week, on 30.10.07.

The Directive on Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) was adopted in 1996 and approved by stages by national parliaments of the EU member countries.

A statement from the European Commission this week said some national authorities were lagging on their part of the implementation of the law.

It said that while measures against pollution had already begun working, overall middle term targets, to 2020, were set to fall short:

“The aim of this key law on industrial emissions is to achieve a high level of environmental protection through integrated prevention and control of the pollution arising from a wide range of industrial and agricultural activities, such as production of metals, minerals, chemicals, paper, textiles, leather, processed foods, poultry and pig farming, combustion plants, oil refineries, waste management, etc. This will help resolve environmental problems, such as pollution of air and water, climate change, soil contamination and negative impacts of waste and move the EU closer to sustainable patterns of production.


“Integrated pollution prevention and control is based on a permit system for installations …

“Member States must ensure that permits for the concerned industrial processes – which installations must obtain and comply with, to be allowed to operate – include emission limit values based on Best Available Techniques …

“The IPPC Directive has applied to new installations as well as to those “existing” installations (i.e. those built before 2000) where the operators intend to carry out changes that may have significant negative effects on human health and the environment … ”

Member States were given a transitional period until this month to ensure compliance with requirements:

* Operators of installations take preventive measures against pollution, in particular applying Best Available Techniques,
* No “significant pollution” is caused,
* Waste that cannot be avoided is recovered or safely disposed of,
* Energy is used efficiently,
* Accidents are prevented and their consequences are limited,
* The site is returned to a satisfactory state when the installation closes.

“The IPPC directive has been in place for over 10 years and 30 October 2007 is the deadline for issuing permits to existing installations. By mid 2006 approximately 50 per cent of prescribed installations had been permitted under the IPPC Directive …

“While industrial emissions have been reduced over the past years they continue to have a significant impact on the environment. The largest industrial installations still account for a considerable share of total emissions of key atmospheric pollutants (83% for Sulphur Dioxide (SO2), 34% for Oxides of Nitrogen (NOx), 43% for dust and 55% for Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC)). They also have other important environmental impacts including emissions to water and soil, generation of waste and the use of energy”, the European Commission said.


José Manuel Durão Barroso, “The International Carbon Action Partnership: Turning vision into reality”, Lisbon, 29.10.07. SPEECH/07/672

European Union, Emission Trading scheme (EU-ETS),, (31.10.07)

European Commission, “Questions and Answers on Implementation of the Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control Directive”, 30.10.07, MEMO/07/441

AFP, “Schwarzenegger regrets US’s poor effort on global warming”, 30.10.07,…, (31.10.07)

Picture: European Commission