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Slovakia to end CO2 deal with Interblue Group

Slovakia will terminate a contract with a small US company to sell excess carbon emission rights, a deal that led to the sacking of an environment minister, Vice Prime Minister Dusan Caplovic said on Monday. Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico had repeatedly rebuffed criticism of the deal with the Interblue Group in which the opposition party and media claimed the state would lose tens of millions of euros. He said they were ungrounded attacks on the government.

Fico, who sacked his third environment minister last week and took the ministry from his coalition partner the Slovak nationalists, introduced Caplovic as interim environment minister earlier on Monday.

“I can give a kind of a promise, regarding the option-deal over the (future) carbon emissions ... where Slovakia is obliged to provide additional emission credits by 2012 ... in this case we will, explicitly, terminate the contract,” Caplovic told reporters.

Opposition parties and media have grilled Fico's cabinet for months saying the sale of the country's extra carbon credits to the little-known Interblue Group last November would cost Slovakia tens of millions of euro.

Through the Kyoto's emissions trading schemes, nations comfortably below their greenhouse gas targets can sell excess rights to countries emitting above their targets.

The media and opposition have said Slovakia, which received around €76 million for the deal, lost at least €40 million because it sold the rights, called Assigned Amount Units (AAU), for less than other countries received.

They have often cited Hungary's sale of 8 million carbon emission rights at around the same time. Hungary has not disclosed the price in its deals with Spain and Belgium, but Slovak media reported it was at least €12 a ton. (Reuters)