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Poland may have allies on back-loading opposition

21 Aug 2012 12:16 (+01:00 GMT)
Poland may have allies on back-loading opposition

London, 21 August (Argus) — The European Commission's proposal to back-load allowances from auctions in phase 3 of the EU emissions trading scheme (ETS) may not receive a qualified majority in member state negotiations, Poland's environment minister Marcin Korolec said.

“I can see at least some surprising allies in store for us. One might see enough countries against it to block it,” he said.

Poland is opposed to the back-loading proposal principally because it is antithetical to a market-based system, Korolec said. “The ETS is defined as a market-based system, with the commission as a referee or regulator, and a regulator should not be in a position to change the rules, especially during the game,” he said.

Intervening once in the market also sets a precedent, he said. “Once the commission meddles in the market, there is nothing to stop it from happening again. This proposal gives the commission mandate to intervene whenever they think they can — it is so open. That is unsafe,” Korolec said.

But it is difficult to have a meaningful discussion on the back-loading proposal without having the legal basis for it — the change of the directive accepted, Korolec said. “After having spoken to a few colleagues in other countries, it is clear that some countries are genuinely surprised that the commission decided to open the directive just to consider one measure,” he said.

“Considering that the directive was adopted in such a difficult process in 2008, I think that there is genuine fear among certain people that someone — mainly in the European Parliament — might push for something different than what the commission proposed.”

If the discussion becomes broader, then there is a concern that the legal base will not be there in time before the third trading period begins next year, Korolec noted. “We cannot drag on with the discussion with the legal basis.”

Meanwhile, Poland is also looking ahead to the climate change convention in Doha on 26 November-7 December this year. “We really hope that there will be meaningful steps towards a binding agreement, because we need to progress on climate targets globally and not only in Europe,” Korolec said.

Poland will also make sure that assigned amount unit (AAU) carry over is safeguarded, Korolec said. “The discussions are intensifying on this and I think the issue will be discussed at the Bangkok meeting. We are working on ideas for what to do with them so that they do not affect ETS prices,” he said.

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