Page last updated at 18:19 GMT, Thursday, 29 May 2008 19:19 UK

New EU states want CO2 revision

Cooling towers in UK (file pic)
The pollution picture varies greatly across Europe

Hungary is spearheading a push by several new EU member states to get the EU's CO2 emission targets recalculated.

Hungary argues that using 2005 figures as the basis for cutting CO2 emissions fails to recognise the progress made by ex-Soviet bloc countries before then.

In January the European Commission set out plans for cutting carbon dioxide emissions based on 2005 levels.

A Hungarian government official told the BBC that "the problem is the non-recognition of past achievement".

Gabor Baranyai, head of EU co-ordination at Hungary's Environment and Water Ministry, said the Commission should return to 1990 as the baseline year for setting emission targets, "because the Kyoto Protocol is counted from that date".

Under the Kyoto deal, more than 30 industrialised countries pledged to reduce their greenhouse gases compared to 1990 levels.

'Recognise past achievements'

Mr Baranyai said Hungary's position was supported by fellow EU members Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania and Slovakia.

The efforts of former Soviet bloc countries "are not recognised fully" in the Commission's package on CO2 emissions, he told the BBC News website.

He said much of the reduction in emissions was attributable to "the economic decline of the new member states," most of which joined the EU in 2004.

CO2 emissions fell sharply in Eastern Europe between 1990 and 2005, in the transition from communism, when many old enterprises closed.

The Commission's package calls for strengthening the Emissions Trading System (ETS), under which carbon emissions are traded. It sets the goal of cutting carbon allowances year-on-year, to achieve an emissions cut of 21% by 2020 compared with 2005 levels.

In sectors not covered by the ETS, such as buildings, transport, agriculture and waste, the goal is to cut emissions to 10% below 2005 levels by 2020.

Support for ETS

EU environment ministers are due to consider progress made towards those targets at a meeting next week.

Mr Baranyai said Hungary did not object to the global reduction target of 20% based on 1990 emission levels and said "we're happy with the ETS - it's the backbone of the whole system".

He insisted that "it is a very ordinary procedure at expert level to make proposals" - and that Poland had done likewise.

The EU Environment Commissioner's spokeswoman, Barbara Helfferich, declined to comment on the Hungarian proposals.

She said the Commission was proposing a revision of the ETS "from 2012 onwards, in a way that is equitable and non-discriminatory".

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