Such a limit on CO2 production is called an emission performance standard (EPS), which is weighed in terms of the weight of CO2 produced in kilowatt or megawatt hours during energy production.
According to global emission scenarios, it is necessary over the next 20-30 years to fully decarbonise EU power generation if global warming is to be limited to 2 degrees Celsius – the current goal set forth by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
The EU emissions trading system (ETS) is today the only EU instrument to combat emissions from large emission points. But because of the modest prices set on CO2 emissions by the scheme, it does not prevent new investment in conventional coal fired power plants.
“To decarbonise the power sector in Europe, we need a regulatory roadmap on the EU level taking the shape of a CO2 emission performance standard,” says Bellona Europa director Eivind Hoff.
At the hearing, Mark Johnston of E3G, a London-based non-profit organisation that works to accelerate the global transition to sustainable development, and Stephan Singer of the WWF introduced the topic of an EPS.
They made the point that an EPS should be and add-on to the emissions trading system to minimise the risk of the emissions trading system not delivering the decarbonisation that is needed.
Dirk Goldschmitt of the German engineering conglomerate Siemens agreed that something like an EPS “will come, we will need it, because it says exactly what CO2 capture readiness is from an engineering perspective: How much CO2 will need to be captured when.”
He added that, “The EPS proposals we now have are just first drafts. We need to think carefully about its details so that an EPS is designed intelligently.”
During the hearing, the coal and electricity industry expressed worries that regulation through an EPS would mandate the use of technology that is not available or sufficiently tested.
Two prominent Members of European Parliament, Sweden’s Anders Wijkman and Claude Turmes of Luxembourg, disagreed, saying that in any case no plants that intensively produce CO2 will be allowed to open in the EU after 2020.
They supported an EPS as a technology-neutral tool to promote all low-carbon solutions, including CO2 capture and storage, renewable energies and energy efficiency.
EPS amendments are currently being tabled for the European Parliament plenary vote on the new Industrial Emissions Directive on March 12th. The Directive is not expected to be adopted by the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers until 2010.
This report was prepared by Camilla Langsholt in Brussels.