* Risk carbon market would exist in name-only without action
* EU Emissions Trading Scheme hit record low in December
* Parliamentary chair says could ask for quicker plenary
By Barbara Lewis
BRUSSELS, Jan 8 Ireland, holder of the EU
presidency for the next six months, is working with opponents of
a proposal to boost the European Union's carbon market in hopes
of brokering a compromise, Environment Minister Phil Hogan said
"It's the intention to get it through," Hogan told Reuters
on the sidelines of a Brussels conference, when asked if a deal
was possible before the end of the Irish EU presidency in June.
Without agreement on providing support for the carbon
market, which hit a record low of 5.61 euros in December
, Hogan said the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS)
"would survive in theoretical terms, but it would exist in name
The European union's ETS was set up with the aim of lowering
emissions by charging manufacturers and utilities for their
emissions but the price of carbon has become too low to induce
A major problem has been a surplus of carbon permits,
prompting the European Commission to put forward a proposal last
year calling for the temporary withdrawal from the market of 900
million carbon allowances in a process known as backloading.
The Commission had hoped a fast-track EU process could
achieve a political agreement by the end of last year.
But opposition from Poland, heavily reliant on
carbon-intensive coal, and the unwillingness so far of Germany,
the EU's most influential member, to take a stance has slowed
Germany's indecision has been blamed on the inability of its
economy and environment ministries to agree a common position.
Hogan said revealing detail could jeopardise negotiations,
but a compromise was possible.
"I've been talking to both countries (Poland and Germany). I
think we will be able to make some progress, but I don't want to
go into detail. We may be able to keep everybody on board," he
"I think there has to be a pragmatic way in which everybody
can agree an interest in putting a floor on the price of carbon,
so the ETS will be able to survive."
Even if member states endorse the plan, it will require a
further administrative process involving parliament and member
states of 4-5 months before formally becoming law, analysts at
Thomson Reuters Point Carbon said.
Matthias Groote, chairman of the European Parliament's
environment committee, who is steering debate on the proposal,
reiterated the committee would hold its vote on a legislative
amendment, which is part of the backloading reform, on Feb. 19.
If member states can reach agreement, he told Reuters he
would then ask for permission to shorten the period between the
committee vote and the plenary parliamentary vote.
Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard has not disguised her
impatience over the repeated delays.
"We still have a number of member states, even some who
normally have a green profile, who have not been able to step
forward with a position. We need them to come forward very
soon," she said on Tuesday.