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Belgium buys Hungarian greenhouse emissions rights

  Belgium has bought rights from Hungary to emit 2 million tons of greenhouse gas, both environment ministries said, through a government-level emissions trading scheme that critics dismiss as “hot air.”


The terms of the deal, under the United Nations’ Kyoto Protocol, were not disclosed, but spokeswomen of both ministries confirmed on Monday the credits and funds hade been transferred. The Kyoto Protocol allows industrialized countries to meet greenhouse gas targets by buying emissions rights from each other or from clean energy projects in developing nations. One scheme under the treaty allows industrialized countries that are comfortably below their emissions targets to sell the difference to other industrialized nations, in a trade that is not necessarily related to any emissions cuts.

Critics have dubbed these surpluses “hot air credits,” saying this is just a cheap way for countries to meet commitments under Kyoto. Such criticism has forced governments to introduce binding clauses to the deals that force the seller to re-invest proceeds in low-emissions technologies. Transactions that carry this caveat are known as Green Investment Scheme agreements.

Hungary said it will invest proceeds in energy efficiency in residential and public sector buildings. A spokeswoman for Hungary’s Environment and Water Ministry of added that it did not want to influence Hungary’s negotiations with other countries by revealing price details. (Reuters)