* Recession-plagued countries need respite from emission
rules, ministry says
* Tight carbon rules could fuel unemployment
ATHENS Jan 24 Greece is proposing recession-hit
countries receive concessions under European Union environmental
rules, hoping that it can curb the rising energy costs of its
firms and improve their competitiveness.
Greece's crisis-battered firms may lose an additional 33,000
jobs through 2020, unless special provisions are introduced in
EU carbon emission rules to lower the costs, the energy ministry
said in a statement on Friday.
The EU Commission already said on Wednesday it would scale
back its long-term climate and energy ambitions because of
tougher economic conditions. But Greece's plea
would go beyond the Commission's plan.
"We propose that the European Emission Trading System
identify specific ways to assist countries in an unprecedented
economic recession and/or exposed to a higher level of
EU-competition," the energy ministry said in a separate document
outlining its proposal, seen by Reuters.
Greece, which currently holds the EU's six-month rotating
presidency, hopes to rally other countries to its cause, a
ministry adviser told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
Reeling from an austerity-fuelled recession that has wiped
out nearly a quarter of economic output over the past six years,
Athens has struggled to reduce firms' energy costs.
It is worried its companies will lose competitiveness
against firms in nearby countries not bound by EU carbon
emission rules, a phenomenon also called "carbon leakage".
The country's state-run natural gas distributor DEPA is
currently negotiating price cuts with its main supplier,
Russia's Gazpom, and has threatened to go to
international arbitration if talks aren't fruitful.
Greece's main power producer PPC paid 147 million
euros for emission rights in the first nine months of 2013, up
from 0.9 million in the same period of the previous year, when
EU emission rules had been softer.
(Reporting by Harry Papachristou; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)