At a recent summit, leaders of eight Eastern European leaders pushed for a “less is better” package of climate standards, saying the current schedule of reducing greenhouse gas emissions will overburden their economies during the current downturn.
The Eastern European countries said the EU has to balance the wish for cleaner air against their “need for sustainable economic growth" at a time of "serious economic and financial uncertainties." They want to back away from greenification of the planet that we all share, to greenification of their countries finances. The countries involved — Poland, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia — released a joint statement on the issue.
"We can't say we'll get an agreement by the end of the year if our conditions are not met," said Mikolaj Dowgielewicz, Poland's European affairs ministers.
The recent financial turmoil has triggered fears of a global recession that make governments fearful of trying to get major polluters such as energy generators, steel makers and cement producers to pay fees in a “cap-and-trade” emissions scheme. (“Cap and trade” is when governing bodies set levels for emissions and any business that exceeds its cap trades or pays for extra allowances.) The proposal before the EU’s governing board would impose euro50 billion/US$68.8 billion a year in polluter fees. All of the EU’s 27 governments, including the eight countries challenging the proposal and the European Parliament have to approve the plan in order for it to become law. And many countries, some with more advanced democracies, say this is not the time to renegotiate.
Irish Foreign Minister Micheal Martin said the plan on the table now "represents the best possible compromise" and should not be changed. But the Eastern European leaders said their economies have made great cuts in carbon emissions since emerging from communism in the late 1980s and that "should be recognized" now. EU governments have been negotiating the package to Greenify during the past year, and it is hoped that any agreement would be endorsed by the end of 2008, and enacted by 2009.
In order to Greenify our planet, we will all have to make changes. That includes Eastern European countries and their smaller but growing economies, as well as in our own struggling businesses and homes, which may prove a challenge during an economically difficult period.