Greenhouse Emissions Market Begins

'Cap and trade' program targets European industrial installations producing carbon in sectors judged to be the most serious emitters, including electricity generation, heat and steam production, mineral oil refineries, as well as the production and processing of ferrous metals; the manufacture of cement, bricks, glass and ceramics; and the pulp and paper sector.

Published: 03-Jan-2005

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The buying and selling of greenhouse gas emissions will begin in earnest this week as the Europe Union's trading scheme - the first of its kind in the world - officially began on Saturday, tying companies in a variety of energy-intensive industries to strict limits on the amount of carbon dioxide they are allowed to produce.

Four EU countries have not yet agreed their national carbon emission limits under the scheme, which will help Europe to meet its obligations to cut greenhouse gas emissions under the UN-brokered Kyoto protocol on climate change. Greenhouse gases are blamed for trapping heat on earth, causing global warming.

Among the laggards, Italy, Poland and the Czech Republic submitted initial plans judged unsatisfactory by the European Commission. The only country to have so far sent nothing to the Commission is Greece, which has caused some embarrassment in Brussels since the EU's new environment commissioner, Stavros Dimas, is Greek.

Companies in these countries are expected to monitor their emissions from the start of the scheme in any case, as their carbon emission limits will be set within a few months, but businesses have complained of the uncertainties.

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