VIENNA (Reuters) - Austria will invest 160 million euros ($213.4 million) in climate protection projects in Europe to cover the gap it faces to meet commitments under the Kyoto Protocol, Environment Minister Nikolaus Berlakovich said on Wednesday.
He said the money would go towards "green investment scheme" projects in other European countries.
Austria needs to buy the equivalent of 32 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) to meet its carbon reduction requirements under the Kyoto accord, he said in a statement.
While the price for certificates was 15 euros per tonne a year ago, it was now around 5 euros, he added.
"We have to act now for reasons of thrift and utility. A year ago the cost of permits for Austria was estimated at 600 million euros to even 1 billion euros. If we pay now we will save over 440 million euros. That helps the budget and the climate," he said.
A top official had said last month that Austria would buy 2-4 million emission permits this year to help it meet its goal to cut emissions under the Kyoto Protocol, but the country could buy millions more if it revised its purchase program.
($1 = 0.7497 euros)
(Reporting by Michael Shields; editing by James Jukwey)