UK government will miss climate target

Posted: 5 September 2006

It is now clear that the British government has almost no chance of meeting its manifeso pledge to reduce the UK's carbon dioxide emissions by 20 per cent by 2010.

Commenting on the formal confirmation of the UKs emission targets up to the year 2012, WWF says the government is to blame for failing to set a sufficiently tight limit on carbon emissions from heavy industry through the European Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS), and has conceded that the UK's total emissions will fall by 16 per cent at best.

The 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 the 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.

Kirsty Clough, climate change policy officer at WWF-UK, said: "The government has now effectively abandoned its climate change target to reduce emissions by 20 per cent by 2010. This is a massive 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 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. The environmental organisation believes the 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.

Matthew Davis, Climate Change Campaign Director for WWF-UK added: "WWF's 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. Under the government's proposals heavy industry's share of UK emissions will rise significantly over this decade."

WWF does, however, support the 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.

Note: WWF is a member of Stop Climate Chaos, a coalition of development and environmental NGOs, which aims to mobilise public concern, and political action, to tackle climate change.

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