Power stations drive CO2 emission rise

Carbon emissions from British industry covered by the EU ETS rose by 3.6% over the last year, mainly due to power generators switching from gas to coal, according to official data for 2006 released on Thursday.

Emitters covered by the Emissions Trading Scheme, the EU system under which major polluters are allocated carbon quotas and forced to pay if they overshoot, were responsible for 251.1 million tonnes of CO2 in 2006 – a 3.6% increase on 2005.

Although emissions across many sectors actually decreased, rising emissions from power stations cancelled out all improvements. While CO2 emitted by power generators increased by 9.3 million tonnes of from 2005 to 2006, emissions from other sectors of industry fell by 0.5% over the same period, giving a net rise of 8.8 million tonnes or 3.6%.

Officials put the increase down to high gas prices that forced a switch from gas to coal-powered electricity generation in 2006.

The figures are in line with estimates made in March, when calculations showed that total UK emissions from the domestic and business sectors went up by 1.25% in 2005-6 (see related story.

A small portion of the year’s carbon emissions was offset through the ETS as the 251.1m tonnes emitted in 2006 exceeded the UK’s cap of 217.3m tonnes by 33.8m tonnes CO2.

Environment minister Ian Pearson praised recent EU action to get tougher on polluters and reduce annual quotas in the next phase of the ETS.

“The first phase of the EU ETS was designed as a learning phase, and important lessons have been applied to the second phase,” he said.

“The 2006 results across the EU reiterate the need to increase the scarcity of allowances in the carbon market. We are greatly encouraged by the Commission’s decisions on Member States’ Phase II National Allocation Plans, which show a clear determination to ensure real scarcity in the carbon market and to use the ETS to drive down carbon dioxide emissions in line with the EU’s Kyoto targets.”

Goska Romanowicz

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