* Carbon emissions from power, industry unchanged last year
* Greenhouse gas emissions up 1.6 percent in EU's biggest
* But Germany easily meets its Kyoto protocol commitments
* Environment agency supports EU plan to help lift CO2
(Recasts, leads with CO2 number specific to EU carbon trading)
By Markus Wacket
BERLIN, Feb 25 Germany's carbon dioxide
emissions from industry and power stations in 2012 stood at 450
million tonnes, unchanged from the previous year, the Federal
Environment Agency (UBA) said on Monday.
UBA president Jochen Flasbarth told Reuters the volume was
virtually the same because a higher rate of coal-burning in
power generation plants was offset by lower industrial CO2
emissions due to an economic slowdown in the euro zone.
The number describes the CO2 volume subject to the European
Union's mandatory carbon emissions trading scheme (ETS), a cap
and trade system that puts incentives on curbing climate-harming
CO2 output by forcing polluters to cover their production.
The ETS is the EU's key instrument for meeting its emissions
targets under international climate protection protocols.
Germany's stable CO2 number contrasts with a 1.6 percent
rise in emissions of six greenhouse gases (GHGs) including CO2,
also reported by UBA, which reflected more coal burn and more
gas use for heating in a colder-than-normal winter season. That
in turn was a reversal of 2011, when Germany posted a 2.8
percent fall in greenhouse gas emissions.
UBA, citing preliminary calculations, said this increase was
smaller than had been expected after the government closed 40
percent of nuclear power installations in 2011. That year
Chancellor Angela Merkel decided to abandon nuclear energy in
the wake of Japan's Fukushima disaster, and speed up renewable
power sources like wind and sunshine.
CO2 emissions overall, which include those from areas such
as households and transport, rose 2.0 percent from the year
before. A wider use of renewable energy, also free of CO2, kept
that increase in check, UBA said.
"We did not see the large increase in greenhouse gas
emissions expected as a result of Germany's exit from nuclear
power, mainly because of further expansion of renewable energy
sources," Flasbarth said.
Nuclear energy is virtually free of CO2 emissions.
TIGHTER EU EMISSIONS CAP
The UBA, part of the environment ministry, said Germany had
significantly bettered its Kyoto protocol target - reducing GHG
emissions by 25.5 percent since 1990, compared to a previously
agreed 21 percent.
However Flasbarth said the increased coal burning for power
generation was worrying and he called for more sustainable
Prices for EU carbon permits have lost more than 70 percent
of their value since May 2011, mainly due to an overhang of
unused permits, exacerbated by slowing economies.
To help boost prices, the European Commission proposed last
year to temporarily remove some 900 million EU carbon permits
from the market over the next three years.
The proposal has been going through the EU process for
months but Germany's stance remains split: the conservative
Environment Ministry is a proponent while the free-market
Economy Ministry is opposed.
"The European Commission's backloading plan for 900 million
CO2 certificates would be a first step," Flasbarth said.
"Ultimately, the certificates should be permanently rather
than temporarily withdrawn from the market. This would be best
achieved with an increase in European Union climate protection
goals," he said.
A European Parliament committee may vote to start a
lawmaking process for backloading on Tuesday.
(Reporting by Alexandra Hudson and Vera Eckert; Editing by