Cause and Effect in European Politics and Law

Bulgaria wants to sell its greenhouse gas emissions surplus and after 2012

Adelina Marini, 14 August 2009

The position of Bulgaria about the new global climate agreement which is supposed to replace the Kyoto protocol, will be part of the common European position. This is what Mr. Kalin Iliev, an expert at the Ministry of Environment and Waters explained to euinside. The Kyoto protocol expires in 2012 but, in fact, it had no actual contribution to the reduction of global warming because 1 of he biggest polluters - the US - did not ratify it. The expectations are that the new agreement that is to be signed in Copenhagen in December, will be much more long-term (by 2050 with a medium period by 2020) and will be supported by the major world economies, including the US, however after tough negotiations.

Where are we? Bulgaria is participating in the negotiations within the EU because the expectations are that as it happened with Kyoto, the agreement will be signed by the EU as a Community and by all member states separately. But in the framework of the EU Bulgaria is trying to negotiate the carbon emissions surplus which the country will generate by 2012 to be transferred into the next period. "The target which we have signed is in 2012 our greenhouse emissions to be less than 8% of the basic year which is 1988. This, in absolute terms is roughly 128 mn tonnes of carbon dioxide. Our emissions so far are a little more than 70 mn tonnes. In other words from 70 to 128 this is a surplus which we could sell or bank and transfer in the next period. And any such emission unit has some prescribed financial expression", Mr. Iliev further explained.

"In the current period (the Kyoto period 2008-2012) these units could be sold on a bilateral basis, according to article 17 in the Kyoto protocol. The question is, if we cannot sell them, to be given the opportunity to transfer them in the next period so that we do not lose them", he added. One of the main reasons countries like Bulgaria to be generating emissions surpluses is that most East European countries endured economic downfalls and not that they had invested in new eco-technologies like Sweden or Denmark, for instance.

What is still unclear and is still subject to tough negotiations within the EU is exactly how the financing of reducing greenhouse emission will take place in the emerging markets. Because, generally, the principle is that the developed European countries, including Bulgaria, should finance the reduction of greenhouse emissions in the developing countries. But the form is till to be negotiated - either through the establishment of a fund or via projects. "Either each member state will be making payments in the fund, financed on a GDP basis or a proportion between the GDP and emissions per capita. Simply these questions are still on the table and are being discussed. There are many options but still there is no clear vision even in the EU", said Kalin Iliev.

In the meantime the negotiations in working groups continue. For example in the former German capital Bonn there was a meeting in which some 2,000 officials and government representatives and NGOs took part. The discussions are unofficial and so far the only common position is that global temperature should not exceed 2 degrees, compared to preindustrial levels.

According to experts, the scenarios for an agreement in Copenhagen are 6. Bjorn Stigsson, president of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development says that those scenarios are: a real deal, in which the US and China lead to a new, ambitious and comprehensive agreement; pure business - various states follow their national targets; limited agreement in which the leading powers will be the G8 and this would be a deal outside the UN Framework Convention.

The fourth scenario, according to Bjorn Stigsson is a simple extension of the Kyoto protocol and the fifth is the Copenhagen conference to expand into 2010. The last possibility is a grandiose declaration but with no agreement.