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Poland, Estonia cannot alter CO2 allowances despite court victory: European Commission

[JURIST] The European Commission (EC) [official website] said Thursday that Poland and Estonia cannot issue new carbon dioxide (CO2) allowances, despite a court victory on Wednesday. The announcement was made by EC Commissioner for the Environment Stavros Dimas, who indicated that the larger allowances proposed by the two nations must be approved [WSJ report] by the EC prior to implementation. On Wednesday, the European Court of First Instance at the Court of Justice of the European Communities [official websites] ruled [case materials] that the EC overstepped its authority in denying the allowances proposed by Poland and Estonia for the period of 2008-2012. While the EC called the data used to calculate the allowances for the two countries unreliable, the court said that the Commission did not describe why they were not reliable. The court decision has already had a collateral effect, as Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said that Italy should be able to issue additional CO2 allowances [EUobserver report].

The EC caps CO2 emissions of member countries through the Emission Trading System (ETS) [legislative materials], enacted in October 2003. Part of the ETS is a cap and trade system, which has recently come under consideration in the US. In late June, the US House of Representatives passed legislation [JURIST report] that included cap and trade among other means to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050. That legislation is currently pending before the Senate. The US has also acted in other ways to address concerns over climate change, including proposing new fuel economy standards and expressing tentative support [JURIST reports] for an international climate change treaty.

Editor's Note: Additional primary coverage of European Commission climate change policy available on JURIST's Dateline.

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