The European parliament is expected on Monday to endorse a plan to allocate carbon permits on a per capita basis after the Kyoto protocol expires in 2012.
The plan would allow global trading of emissions rights along the lines of the internal cap and trade scheme established by the EU in 2005.
The Kyoto protocol excluded developing countries and Vittorio Prodi, the MEP pushing the parliamentary resolution, says global trading would give them an incentive to join a successor, which will be the subject of talks on the Indonesian island of Bali in December.
“This is an idea that would get developing and developed countries involved. It would be very good for Africa, which would receive a sum bigger than their development aid [by selling permits],” Mr Prodi told the Financial Times. China has almost hit the ceiling of 4.8 tonnes per person that would be allocated under the plan, less than half the 11 tonnes the average rich country citizen uses today.
This would need to fall to two if the EU’s goal of restricting global warming to an average of two degrees centigrade by 2050 is to be met, Mr Prodi said. According to the resolution, that requires an 85 per cent cut in industrialised countries’ average emissions.
The idea is the brainchild of Lutz Wicke, a German scientist and former deputy environment minister.
The parliamentary resolution, supported by the centre and leftwing parties in the assembly but opposed by the centre-right, has no legal force but is an indication of the EU’s thinking.
Italy, where Mr Prodi’s brother Romano is premier, also favours the policy. Vittorio Prodi believes that around half the EU’s 27 states back it.
However, the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, which will lead negotiations, is cool. A spokeswoman for Stavros Dimas, the environment commissioner, said it could be only part of the solution. She said it would not give incentives for developing countries to industrialise without increasing energy consumption. Any deal must “also include the responsibility for past and current emissions, the level and rate of economic development, the technological and financial capacity, as well as specific local considerations such as climate and availability of renewable energy sources”.