The European Commission has placed sustainable growth at the core of its strategy for 2020. This strategy must foster ways to cut green house gas by 20%, while heavily supporting R&D in a more and more competitive global market. While targets seem extremely challenging, it is worth acknowledging that more women are sharing decision-making powers in key sectors for the future.
Recently appointed Director for European and International Carbon Markets in the newly set up Directorate-General for Climate Action of the European Commission, WIL member Mary-Veronica Tovšak-Pleterski plays a key role in developing the revised European Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS). This is the most complex emissions trading scheme world-wide, under which major industrial emitters of carbon dioxide in the EU must monitor and annually report their CO2 emissions, and which enables companies that exceed individual CO2 emissions targets to buy allowances from 'greener' ones to help reach the EU's targets under the Kyoto Protocol.
What will be the top priorities of the Directorate for European and International Carbon Markets?
Our role will be to ensure that the industries are making good command of the European Union Emission Trading Scheme (EU ETS). It is the first international emission trading scheme in the world, operating since 2005, when around 10,000 large industrial plants were required to buy and sell permits to release GHG in the atmosphere. However, there is still more to be done so that all actors share the costs of reducing the impact on the environment.
In 2008 the European Parliament and the Council adopted the legislation to revise the EU ETS, so as to become a more transparent, equitable and accessible system, including for SMEs covered by the EU ETS and for small emitters. My team is in charge to bring forward measures that are needed to implement the adopted changes and ensure that the renewed ETS will be in place and operational by January 2013.
How important is it for DG Climate Action to have citizens who understand how ETS works?
What matters is to raise the citizens’ awareness regarding their responsibilities for the future generations. Today the global temperature is already around 0.8 °C higher as compared to pre-industrial times. Making the EU ETS easy to understand is not an evident task due to its technicalities. However, we are aware that it needs to be comprehensive enough, not only for businesses, but also for individual citizens, if we want it to gain eligibility.
What will be the position of your Directorate regarding boosting the number of jobs in new sectors? Will women’s participation be benchmarked?
De-carbonizing the EU economy is an opportunity that needs to be seized. An important aspect of the EU ETS is to encourage innovation and the development of green technologies.
Europe currently counts 3,4millions employees in the green industries, trabslating into 2,2% of Europe’s GDP. Each direct job in Europe's green industries creates indirectly between 1,3 - 1,9 jobs. If we continue the path we started of decoupling economic growth from GHG emissions growth, then these numbers will certainly boost, including the rate of women’s participation.
Will investments in green innovation be continued as long as public spending is being cut?
The economic recession has sharpened realities. However, revised EU ETS legislation implements mechanisms such as supporting the construction of carbon capture and storage demonstration plants that encourage investments in innovation from the business side.
Besides, businesses will benefit from the increasing demand for low carbon products, and eventually realize that reducing their environmental footprint makes not only social sense, but also business sense.
In Copenhagen, only 29 Heads of State and Government signed the "Copenhagen Accord". What actions will the EU need to take so as all parties reach an international climate agreement in Cancun, Mexico in December 2010?
The EU obviously hoped for a global agreement in Copenhagen last year which was not possible to reach. Although Copenhagen Accord represents a certain progress, more efforts are required in order to be able reach the strong, comprehensive and legally binding global deal that remains our objective.
Europe has legally binding commitments to reduce GHG emissions in place and we expect our international partners to face their responsibilities to prevent reaching the dangerous levels of GHG emissions that threaten to increase global warming.