Czech industrial sector up in arms over slashed emission quotas

Photo: European Commission

This week the European Commission said it was going to cut substantially the Czech Republic's greenhouse gas emissions quota. The news has the Czech industrial sector up in arms, and there have been reports electricity bills will rise. The government is now considering whether to fight the decision in a European court. But does the Czech Republic really need a higher quota?

Photo: European Commission
The system of allotted national emission quotas under which polluters can buy and sell unused credits are supposed to help the EU cut carbon dioxide emissions under the Kyoto Protocol. However in recent years the system has taken a beating, because member states have been allotted more permits than needed, undermining the value of "credits" on the market. The EC has now moved to correct this - slashing nearly every country's proposed allocation figures. The Czech Republic asked to be allowed to produce 102 million tons of emissions annually but was only allotted 86.6 million tons. Industry Minister Martin Riman says the Czech Republic was discriminated against.

"This allocation figure is not good news for the Czech Republic and compared to what other EU member states have been allotted I would say that the Czech Republic did not get a fair deal."

Minister Riman will urge the Czech government to take action - either by suing the European Commission in a European court or at least agreeing on a joint policy with Poland, which was also disappointed with its allocation. Although the Czech Republic has never actually produced 100 million tons of CO2 emissions in the past the industry minister claims the figure is realistic due to the country's booming economy and projected 8 to 9 percent growth rate. Environmental activist Vojtech Kotecky claims that this argument is simply not valid.

Photo: European Commission
"When you look at Czech statistics over the past ten years there is no apparent link between GDP economic growth and emissions levels. Emissions of carbon dioxide have stagnated in the Czech Republic over the last ten years - even though on a high level - while the economy has been growing very dynamically."

So you feel that the Czech Republic has actually asked for more than it needs?

"Definitely. It is the same story as in the first round of emission trading within the EU, when the Czech Republic asked for a very big emission quota, it was reduced by the European Commission and in the end - despite the fuss - the Czech Republic never even achieved the level allotted by the European Commission."