* Campaigners say new emissions rules lack transparency
* EU data no longer shows company-level offset use
* Investor group says may harm future investment
By Ben Garside
LONDON, May 16 Investors and environmental
campaigners have criticised the European Union for no longer
revealing the types of foreign carbon credits each company is
using to help meet emission regulations.
The lobbyists say the lack of access could discourage future
investment in carbon-cutting projects and make it more difficult
for companies to select schemes they judge to be more
environmentally robust or that have additional benefits such as
On Thursday the European Commission published data showing
how many carbon credits had been used by EU companies to meet
their 2013 obligations under the bloc's Emissions Trading System
Since 2005 over 13,000 power plants factories and airlines
have been allowed to use a limited number of U.N.-backed credits
towards their annual requirement to surrender carbon permits for
every tonne of CO2 they emit.
Under new rules from this year, companies can no longer turn
in the credits directly but must swap them for more expensive EU
Allowances, the market's staple currency.
This means the annual compliance data no longer links each
credit to the company that used it.
"That (link) was useful information to help inform future
investment decisions to determine demand for certain types of
projects," said Miles Austin, of the Climate Markets and
Investment Association, which represents banks and venture
capitalists who fund low-carbon projects worldwide.
An official from the European Commission declined to comment
on whether the executive was considering publishing the
company-level data in another form.
Most companies buy carbon credits in the secondary market,
relying on scrutiny by EU and U.N. regulators to ensure that
each credit represents the reduction of a tonne of carbon
Others, such as Dutch utility Eneco, opt to
source the credits or invest in projects directly.
Environmental campaigners said the change in data also makes
it easier for companies to conceal compliance costs and harder
for lobbyists to pressure for reform.
"The Commission has just given a huge gift to those industry
lobbyists who routinely exaggerate the costs the EU ETS poses to
them," Damien Morris of Sandbag Climate Campaign said.
Heavy industries have opposed reforms that would push their
ETS costs higher that those faced by rivals in countries outside
the European Union with looser environmental regulations.
Eva Filzmoser of Carbon Market Watch said the detailed data
was instrumental in the group's successful campaign for the EU
ban on the use of projects that destroy industrial gases.
She added that the data had provided an incentive for
companies to apply corporate social responsibility policies as
well by buying credits not connected to accusations of human
One such instance occurred in 2011 when EDF Trading
, a subsidiary of French utility EDF, said it
would no longer buy credits from a project in Honduras whose
owners were alleged to have stolen land to develop palm oil
"In the absence of clear rules for companies to stay away
from dubious projects that are tainted by human right abuses, we
need transparency in order to hold companies accountable for
their investment decisions," Filzmoser said.
(editing by Jane Baird)