E.U. battles with U.K. over CO2 emissions

Tony Blair has fashioned himself a climate champion of late, vowing to make the issue of global warming central to the U.K.’s 2005 leadership of the G8 nations. So it’s rather embarrassing for him that the E.U. has just threatened to take legal action against the U.K. over its projected carbon-dioxide emissions. Last April, the U.K. submitted a plan to the European Commission calling for the country to be permitted just over 811 million tons of CO2 emissions. In early July, the commission approved the plan, giving the U.K. two months to request changes. In October — not two months later, but three! — in response to heavy industry pressure, the U.K. revised its plan to include almost 22 million tons more — a, um, whopping 3 percent increase. This week, a spokesflack for Stavros Dimas, the E.U.’s environment commissioner, said flatly that it would be “illegal” for the U.K. to institute its revised plan. Legal action could take years to resolve and throw Europe’s new carbon-trading system into chaos. U.K. Environment Secretary Margaret Beckett vowed to fight on.