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voestalpine Sues EU Over Plans for Carbon Emissions

Published: July 21, 2011; 19:30 · (Vindobona)

The Austrian steel company and four German competitors filed a lawsuit against the EU. They argue that CO2 emission targets are unrealistic and unachievable.

voestalpine Sues EU Over Plans for Carbon Emissions / Picture: © Vindobona.org

Five steel companies, among them Austrian voestalpine, together with the European Confederation of Iron and Steel Industries (Eurofer) have filed a lawsuit at the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg against the EU Commission’s CO2 emission standards. The benchmarks for certificate trading in the period from 2013 to 2020 were “unrealistic”. voestalpine alone would incur extra costs of € 1bn until 2020, said company spokesman Gerhard Kürner on Thursday.

As a result of the EU’s climate protection policy, the steel industry expects costs of almost € 5bn – in addition to the € 6.5bn which will be required for the purchase of emission certificates. The EU is planning to reduce CO2 emissions by 20% compared to the level of 1990. It had set “unrealistic, partly unachievable and illegal benchmarks” for sinter plants, furnaces and steel plants, said Kürner. The burden on European steel companies would place them at a competitive disadvantage and would put at risk energy-intensive industries in Europe.

“Contrary to the European Emissions Trading System (ETS) directive, the Commission did not assign the full carbon in unavoidable waste gases to the steel benchmarks, despite there being specific provisions in the directive for the use of recovered waste gases for electricity generation due to their substitution of primary fuels saving millions of tons of CO2 emissions. The benchmarks are therefore technically unachievable and, as a consequence also now disincentivise investment in the recovery of unavoidable waste gases. In addition, the Commission did not, in setting the benchmarks, use data provided by the industry in accordance with the directive but rather relied on literature on best technologies which did not reflect the technical realities of the industry, further skewing the benchmarks and increasing the financial burden“, argued Eurofer.