April 5, 2008 3:18 am

Italy buys credits to meet Kyoto targets

Italy will achieve its greenhouse gas-cutting targets under the Kyoto protocol by buying carbon credits from Russia, under a deal announced on Friday that could cost the government billions of euros.

Italy is expected to miss its Kyoto targets by a total of about 400m to 500m tonnes of carbon dioxide, and will therefore have to make up the shortfall with carbon credits issued by the United Nations. But the government did not say how many credits it would buy under a deal with Carbon Trade and Finance, a joint venture between Russia’s Gazprombank and Dresdner Bank.

Corrado Clini, director-general of the Italian ministry for the environment, said: “This is an important step for Italy in meeting its obligations under the Kyoto protocol and builds upon our intentions outlined [at a UN meeting] in Bali. By making reductions in carbon emissions in Russia and the surrounding regions as well as in Italy itself, we will be able to reduce Italy’s Kyoto emissions to 6.5 per cent below 1990 levels as agreed in the accord.”

Italy’s purchase of the credits would finance projects in Russia that reduce emissions, such as making power stations more efficient. Some of the projects could involve Gazprom, which could generate carbon credits to sell by plugging leaks in its gas pipelines.

Carbon credits issued by Russia are often cheaper than those from developing countries because the energy efficiency projects that generate the credits are usually cheaper to set up. Some Russian carbon credits can be bought for about €7, compared with prices of around $15 (€9.5, £7.5) for developing country credits.

Japan attracted the ire of environmentalists when it said last year it would buy credits known as “assigned amount units” from Hungary and possibly Russia to make up its Kyoto target. These credits do not result in emissions reductions, because they were awarded to ex-Soviet countries to account for the reductions in greenhouse gases resulting from the collapse of their industries after the fall of communism.

But Ingo Ramming, executive director of Carbon Trade and Finance, said Italy’s credits would be the result of emissions-cutting projects that had been approved by the Italian government.

● The German government on Friday scrapped plans to increase the use of biofuels in road transport because more than 3m cars were unsuited to the proposed new fuel mix, Hugh Williamson reports from Berlin.

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