Tuesday, 3 February 2004

Ceisteanna (42)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

163 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if it is the Government's intention to use this State's Presidency of the European Union to initiate a programme for the targeted reduction of emissions on an EU-wide basis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2972/04]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government)

I assume the question refers to targeted reductions of greenhouse gas emissions. Under the Kyoto Protocol, which the European Union and its member states ratified in May 2002, the EU has committed itself to reducing its combined emissions of a basket of six greenhouse gases by 8% below 1990 levels during the period 2008 to 2012. A subsequent burden sharing arrangement resulted in different emissions targets for each member state.

It is the responsibility of each member state to ensure that it complies with its overall emissions target, but it is recognised that action on an EU-wide basis is necessary in respect of policies and measures where progress can best be achieved in a common and co-ordinated way. In June 2001, the Commission published the European Climate Change Programme, ECCP, which has identified the most environmentally beneficial and cost-effective EU-level policies and measures to assist the EU meet its 8% target. The programme outlines a number of sector specific measures that have already been taken and many that are yet to be taken to assist particular sectors and, therefore, member states, to meet their targets. The Commission reports regularly on the implementation of the ECCP and a communication from it in the coming months is expected to outline plans for implementation of the next phase of the programme. The Irish Presidency will work closely with the Commission and our EU partners in this regard.

The emissions trading directive, which has already been agreed, will assist the larger CO2 emitters in EU industry and power generation sectors to contribute to overall emissions reductions in a flexible and cost effective manner. A draft directive linking the emissions trading scheme to the Kyoto Protocol's project mechanisms will provide further opportunities for companies to help meet their targets through investing in environmentally sound projects in developing countries or in economies in transition. The Irish Presidency is working to achieve a first reading agreement between the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament on the linking directive. During our Presidency, we will also progress a draft regulation to control the use of certain fluorinated gases, which are more potent than CO2 in terms of climate change.

It remains a sole competence of the European Commission to propose further EU-wide legislative measures targeting reductions in particular sectors.