15 MAR 2011
By Andrew Willis
EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - European carbon prices hit a two-year high on Monday (14 March), as the region reassesses the future of its nuclear energy industry following events in Japan.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said plans to extend the operating life of the country's nuclear plants would be suspended for at least three months, pending an inquiry into their safety, while Switzerland halted plans to build new reactors.
Carbon permits under the EU's emissions trading scheme, which Switzerland is set to join, rose 5.5 percent to close at €16.60 a tonne on the ICE Futures Europe exchange in London.
The emissions scheme forms a key element of European efforts to cut CO2 emissions by 20 percent over the coming decade, based on 1990 levels.
On Monday, EU climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard presented her '2050 Roadmap' for a low-carbon economy to EU environment ministers in Brussels, stressing that a 25 percent cut was achievable if member states increased their energy efficiency.
Seven environment ministers went further, calling for an EU cut of 30 percent in an open letter to the commission. The ministers came from Britain, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Portugal, Spain and Sweden.
But analysts said an EU move away from the relatively-clean nuclear energy could cast a question mark over the bloc's ability to meet its carbon-cutting pledges.
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