Greens, industry criticise ETS targets

The Government has formally submitted details of the carbon emission caps it will place on UK industry in the second phase of the EU Emission Trading Scheme - and was faced with criticism from green groups and industry alike.

The UK’s National Allocation Plan (NAP) sets limits that are stringent compared to other European countries, and was submitted well ahead of the August 31 deadline. The only other major EU country to have submitted a NAP is Germany.

Many experts strongly criticised Germany’s targets as weak to the point of undermining the credibility of the whole scheme (see related article).

But although the UK has proved much more ambitious with its target of cutting an annual 8m tonnes of carbon compared to a business-as-usual scenario, at this level of cuts the possibility of reaching previously announced carbon emission cuts recedes into the impossible, said the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF).

The Government had previously promised carbon cuts of 20% by 2020, but would need stronger ETS caps to achieve these, the environmental group said. As it stands, the ETS will only achieve a cut of 15-18%.

“The government has now effectively abandoned its climate change target to reduce emissions by 20 per cent by 2010,” said Kirsty Clough, a climate change policy officer at WWF-UK.

The WWF proposed that Britain’s heavy industry be given an allocation of 60.5m tonnes of carbon for Phase II of the ETS, which covers the period of 2008-2012, instead of the 64.4m set out in the submitted NAP – only 2m tonnes less than the limits set in Phase I of the scheme.

Matthew Davis, WWF-UK’s climate change campaign director, said: “Under the government’s proposals heavy industry’s share of UK emissions will rise significantly over this decade.”

Meanwhile EEF, the UK manufacturers’ association, warned that the “stringent” limits “risk further eroding our competitiveness.”

Martin Temple, director general of the EEF, told the Times: “Yet again, the UK is in the vanguard whilst the rest of Europe remains in the starting blocks.

“While much of the immediate burden will be felt by the electricity generators, these costs will be passed on to industry and other energy consumers. At a time of rapidly rising energy prices, the Government’s desire to show leadership risks

The WWF did express its approval of the Government’s decision to auction 7% of the carbon credits, however. “Although this is short of the 10 per cent maximum amount that could be auctioned, the decision will ensure that the power sector – the single biggest emitter or carbon emissions – has to pay for some of its right to pollute up front,” the organization said.

Goska Romanowicz

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