On 31st March 2011 the Greek Greenhouse Gas Emissions Trading Scheme Registry resumed operation after the temporary suspension of all internal and external transactions which was imposed on 19th January 2011 to all European Emissions Trading Scheme Registries by the European Commission due to security breaches of certain accounts. With the reopening of the Greek Registry all existing account holders are required to renew their data by proving them in writing under the new terms of use, otherwise their account will be suspended or closed.

In Greece, about 140 installations operating in the energy sector, iron and steel production and processing, the mineral industry and the wood pulp, paper and board industry are involved in the greenhouse gas emissions trading scheme. These industries are automatically subject to the European Emissions Trading System which was adopted with Directive 2003/87/EC and was transposed into national law with the Joint Ministerial Decree 54409/2632/2004, according to which the respective installations must be in possession of a permit issued by the competent authority in order tο receive allowances, under the National Allocation Plan, presenting the total amount of greenhouse gases (GHGs) that are allowed to emit. In addition, as from 1st January 2012, the Greek aviation sector is included in the emissions trading scheme, while from 1st January 2013 the scope of the scheme is expanded to more sectors, such as fertilizer and aluminium industries.

The installations subject to the scheme are required to provide at the beginning of each year and until the 31st March a certified report to the Office of Emissions Trading Allowances of the Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change stating the quantity of GHGs which have emitted the previous year, which should be at least equal or less than the amount of allowances issued. The companies that exceeded the quantity of allowances allocated to them will either have to buy the allowances needed from another company subject to the Directive, or pay a fine to the competent authority which is determined at 100€ per exceeding tonne of carbon dioxide (CO2). On the contrary, if a company reduces its emissions it can sell the spare allowances to another company that is short of allowances.

Since the price of allowances is not determined or controlled by the European Commission, it is subject to the market rules of supply and demand. The current market price per tonne CO2 is approximately 15€. In order to strengthen their competitiveness, in view also of the newly adopted energy legislation concerning the liberalization of energy market, it is essential for the Greek companies to integrate environmental protection plans which support the implementation of measures to reduce emissions into their business strategy, as opposed to the adoption of oligopolistic or monopolistic practices such as shifting the cost of buying emission allowances to the consumer. Additionally, companies should take into account future demands for further emissions reductions, as well as the fact that the number of permits which are issued free of charge is gradually decreased and replaced by an auction at European level.

Edited by Tina Koutsopoulou

Sources: Press release YPEK; Directive 2003/87/E;  Joint Ministerial Decree 54409/2632/2004, Websites: National Centre for Environment and Sustainable Development; Point Carbon UK; ThetisGreenTrade