European Union unveils detailed plans to cut GHG emissions
European Union leaders today unveiled detailed draft plans to reduce E.U.-wide emissions 20 percent below 1990 levels by 2020. The plans would require utilities to buy all of their greenhouse-gas emissions permits beginning in 2013, as opposed to the current practice of allocating nearly all of them for free, which companies can then sell at a profit. Also starting in 2013, other heavily polluting industries, such as aluminum, cement, and steel, will have to pay for a gradually increasing portion of their pollution permits until 2020 when companies will have to pay for all of them. In total, the draft plans are expected to cost about $87 billion a year, though E.U. leaders argued that the costs of inaction would be much higher. The European Union has also proposed country-specific renewable-energy targets that together aim to achieve the goal of getting 20 percent of the E.U.’s electricity from renewable sources by 2020. The plans still needs approval from E.U. country governments and the European Parliament in a process expected to take at least two years.