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Weak UK pollution limit on industry puts climate change target out of reach


22 Aug 2006
London, UK – The British government has ducked a key opportunity to meet its manifesto pledge to reduce the country’s carbon dioxide emissions by 20 per cent by 2010, according to WWF.

By failing to set a sufficiently tight limit on carbon emissions from heavy industry through the European Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS), the government has conceded that the UK’s total emissions will fall by 16 percent at best.

The long-standing target was a central plank of government policy, and appeared in the last manifesto in 2005. However, in March this year — less than 12 months on from a general election —- the government’s Climate Change Programme stated that the UK would only achieve a cut of between 15 and 18 per cent by 2010.

“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.

"This is a missed opportunity for a prime minister who has staked his environmental credentials on tackling climate change. It is unbelievable that a government can break a manifesto commitment so readily.”

The British government, though it’s EU ETS National Allocation Plan (NAP), has proposed an annual limit on heavy industry’s emissions of 64.6 million tonnes of carbon (237 million tonnes of carbon dioxide) for the second phase of the EU ETS which will run from 2008 to 2012. This limit is just over two million tonnes of carbon (3.5 per cent) below the cap in the current phase of the scheme, which ends in 2007.

WWF believes the British government needs to set the limit at 60.5 million tonnes (222 million tonnes of carbon dioxide) in order to meet its emissions reduction targets.

“Our proposal that industry cuts its emissions to 60.5 million tonnes of carbon through the European Emissions Trading Scheme would have meant that business would do its fair share to tackle climate change" added Matthew Davis, WWF-UK’s Climate Change Campaign Director.

"Under the government’s proposals heavy industry’s share of UK emissions will rise significantly over this decade.”

WWF does, however, support the British government’s proposal to auction seven per cent of pollution permits in the second phase of the EU ETS and to deduct these from the power sector’s allocation. 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.


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