EU ministers want to spur low-carbon energy: draft

BRUSSELS Wed Mar 7, 2012 9:46am GMT

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BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Environment ministers meeting in Brussels on Friday are likely to urge the EU's executive to look at practical ways to drive green investment, but to stop short of calling for intervention to prop up carbon permits that have lost much of their value.

European Union politicians last month voted in favor of withholding permits from the bloc's Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), to try to support a market that is too weak to fulfill the goal of encouraging low carbon investment.

But for such intervention to happen, the Commission, the EU's executive arm, would have to draw up a proposal.

A draft text seen by Reuters ahead of Friday's environment council noted "robust carbon prices are needed to support and deliver the necessary incentives for low-carbon investments."

It also "invites the Commission to further consider the possible practical modalities that may be needed to ensure that the EU ETS continues to reward energy efficiency and low-carbon investments in all relevant sectors of the economy."

No one from the Commission was available to comment on the leaked draft.

The wording is stronger than an earlier draft text seen at the end of January, but still not a clear call for the Commission, the EU's executive arm, to draw up a proposal to intervene.

Also on the agenda is the "state of play" of the international dispute over the inclusion of airlines in the EU's carbon trading scheme.

An EU law, which since the start of this year has obliged all airlines using EU airports to pay for their carbon emissions, has stirred international outcry and threats of retaliation.

The U.N.'s International Civil Aviation Organization is working on developing its own global scheme, which might offer a way to resolve the standoff.

(Reporting by Barbara Lewis; Editing by Rex Merrifield and Alison Birrane)

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