Muyters claims CO2 earnings
The federal government has budgeted an income of 54.4 million euros from its CO2 quota for 2013. According to Flanders and Wallonia, this income should rightfully go to the regions and not to the federal government. The said income is earned from the European Emission Trade scheme, used to control pollution. Emission rights are sold to firms, which represent the right to emit a specific volume of pollutants.The number of emission rights drops each year and nearly half of them are auctioned every year, with the income earned from the auction shared between the cost to finance the system and the member states. In Belgium the federal state receives its share of the income from the rights, although environment is an exclusive power of the regions. The National Climate Commission has not yet reached an agreement on the distribution of the income earned from the CO2 quota and still the federal government has booked 54.4 million euros, or a quarter of the expected income, in its own budget. In Flanders and Wallonia it is felt that the money should go to the regions. “The environment is a regional power,” says Flemish Budget Minister Philippe Muyters N-VA. “It is only logical that the regions should earn this income. The Flemish government plans to use the money to finance measures that will reduce CO2 emissions. The federal government is simply using the money to fill gaps in its budget.” Walloon Minister for Sustainable Development, Jean-Marc Nollet Ecolo, puts it even more bluntly, saying: “The federal government is misappropriating money that does not belong to them.” According to former federal MP for the Groen party Tinne Van der Staeten, debate in the National Climate Commission has reached an impasse and the income from the quota will be less than what the federal government originally expected. The European Commission plans to take emission rights off the market to create a shortage in the system, which will reduce the income earned to a disappointing amount. Another contentious amount is the 150 million euros which former prime minister Yves Leterme CD&V promised as a contribution for an international climate change budget in the framework of the previous Doha round. Leterme failed to discuss this amount with the regions, which are now refusing their contribution.