Estonia, Poland win back pollution permits in EU court

A top European court annulled Wednesday an EU attempt to limit the amount of greenhouse gases that Estonia and Poland can let heavy industry emit.

The court ruled that the EU’s executive arm, the European Commission, had overstepped its authority by slashing the National Allocation Plans (NAPS) of Poland and Estonia, by more than a quarter and almost half respectively.

“By imposing, in its review of NAPs, a ceiling on emission allowances to be allocated, the commission exceeds its powers,” the Luxembourg-based European Court of First Instance said in a statement.

The plans are a major part of EU policy for fighting global warming. Under them, governments fixed the total number of allowances they would allocate to industry for the 2008-2012 period, part of efforts to meet emission targets.

These pollution permits are granted to around 10,000 installations in the 27-nation bloc’s energy and industrial sectors which combined account for about half the EU’s emissions of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas.

The commission then assesses the plans to see whether they are compatible with EU guidelines.

The court ruled, that in this case, the commission had overstepped its authority by rejecting the plans based only on doubts it had about how the countries collected their data.

Brussels said it would study the court’s ruling.

“We are waiting to learn more about the ruling to study its consequences before we take any action,” a spokeswoman on environmental affairs said.

The commission has two months to appeal the ruling.

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