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EU Taxpayers and consumers to pay for utilities pollution


Amsterdam/Hamburg, International — Today Greenpeace criticized the Governments of Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom for their failure to mandate serious cuts in CO2 emissions from their industrial and energy sectors. A new report, ’Increasing the Ambition of EU Emissions Trading’ (1), assesses the three European countries’ National Allocation Plans (NAPs) for phase two of the Emission Trading Scheme (ETS) for the period 2008 - 2012. It shows that although these Governments will meet their Kyoto targets, they have taken the burden of emissions reductions off the utility companies and industries covered under the ETS, and placed it firmly onto consumers, taxpayers and the other sectors not covered by the ETS.

The report reveals that the three Governments are expecting private households and the transport sector to make proportionally bigger cuts in their emissions than the companies participating in the ETS, who are responsible for 45% of all European CO2 emissions. In the Netherlands, this will in effect cost Dutch taxpayers more than 742 million Euros for the period between 1998 and 2011 (2). By allocating an overly large proportion of their Kyoto budgets to the ETS companies, these Governments will not only cost the climate dear but also the European economy.

“Climate Change is the biggest threat to each and every country on this planet. We only have a small window of opportunity to stop it getting worse; these Governments are letting their people down by blowing their chance to reduce CO2. They are in effect handing their industries pollution permits and making their taxpayers and consumers pay for them,” said Steve Sawyer, Climate & Energy Policy Campaigner, Greenpeace International.

The Netherlands, Germany and the U.K. also have a reserve package of free CO2-credits to give to companies wishing to operate new CO2-emitting installations such as coal-fired power plants. The report shows that by allocating allowances to these new projects for free the Governments are subsidizing unsustainable investments and increasing the costs of achieving the Kyoto targets.

“This is the last chance for the ETS to realise its potential in helping member states to meet their Kyoto Protocol targets. It is also essential for putting the European economy on track for realising the much deeper greenhouse gas emissions reductions, which will be required in the post-2012 period,” said Sawyer. “If put to its intended use, the ETS can provide incentives for modernising industry, making it more efficient and increasing European competitiveness.”

This week, EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas, who will judge the NAP proposals after the deadline on June 30, stated in the German newspaper, Handelsblatt, that all EU member states must meet their Kyoto targets and that he would return the allocation plans that failed to reflect these (3).

Greenpeace is urging all EU Governments to use the ETS effectively, by adopting stricter NAPs and to resist from giving polluters a free license to abuse the climate.

For the NAPs to be effective, Greenpeace demands the following:
* All member states make bigger cuts in their total number of credits - decreasing the CO2 budget for the ETS sector
* Governments should not give away CO2 credits for free but should auction as many as possible within the restraints of the EU Directive.
* New installations must pay the market price for their credits instead of relying on subsidised credits from their Governments

Notes to Editor

1. The report, commissioned by Greenpeace International and written by is available on

2. The Dutch Government had already reserved €742 million Euros to ensure the purchase of Joint Implementation and Clean Development Mechanism credits. However, the Government announced in April 2006 that due to market price increases and delay in project delivery more funds are needed, which in effect the Dutch taxpayers will pay, letting the industry off the hook.

3. Handelsblatt, 20 June, 2006

Further contact information for reporters to get video, photos or report details

Images of the Greenpeace actions that took place 13 June, 2006, highlighting EON and RWE’s emissions from coal power plants, are available from the Greenpeace International Photo Desk +31 653 819 255 and the Greenpeace International Video Desk on +31 653 504 721


Authors are available for interviews please contact
Mhairi Dunlop, Greenpeace International Communications, +44 7801 212 960


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