Competing interests

Italy and other EU member states oppose climate change bill

Editorial Staff
October 30, 2008

With the European Union's (EU) green legislation due in December, the negotiations among the members are heating up. Though Italy has expressed the most doubt regarding the pollution limits being proposed, other EU states have called for modifications.


Last year the 27-nation bloc pledged to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent by 2020 and to generate 20 percent of power from renewable and eco-friendly sources.


However, at the EU climate summit in Luxemburg on October 20 to 21, Italy and Poland threatened to veto the proposed green legislation. The Baltic states, along with Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia, also raised objections, while Germany took a tough stance in an effort to defend its domestic industrial sector.


Italy claims the carbon cuts would be too costly for its industries to endure. Environment minister Stefania Prestigiacomo estimated industry would have to spend between 18 and 25 billion euro a year to reach the targets. Contesting the figures, the European Commission, said it would convene a group of experts to review Italy's cost estimates for implementing the plans.


Critics of the proposal insist on establishing a mechanism that would keep European industry on an equal footing with non-EU industries, such as those in the United States and developing countries, which operate under lower pollution limits.


Prestigiacomo is worried that Italian business will move their operations to countries with fewer restrictions, thus draining more jobs from Italy. ‘The main risk is relocation, and even countries like Germany have mentioned this problem', she told the financial daily Il Sole 24 Ore.


However, leading environmental organizations admonished the proposed revision to the green bill, claiming it gave more room to the opportunistic demands of the Polish and Italian governments, who want to give old fashioned, inefficient and wasteful industries a free ride at the expense of innovation and job creation'.

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