Trading in emissions

The UK could earn up to US $1 billion in the sale of surplus emissions

Published: Wednesday 15 September 1999

according to a report by Ilex, the Oxford-based energy consultant, the uk is better placed than most leading European rivals to exceed carbon emissions goals established following the Kyoto climate change summit two years ago. If the uk sells surplus reductions to other countries it could earn up to us $1 billion per year. Many countries like Finland and Belgium are struggling to meet Kyoto pollution targets.

The report says the us is more advanced in developing trading in greenhouse gases and advises uk ministers to develop policies to promote "emissions trading in both domestic and international arenas". Following the Kyoto Protocol, the uk committed to cut emissions by 12.5 per cent from 1990 levels over a five-year period. However, the British government volunteered to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 20 per cent two years ahead of schedule.

The uk has already achieved a 6.8 per cent reduction in carbon emissions since 1990 due to a switching over to cleaner and cheaper natural gas fuel and improved nuclear performance following the privatisation of the electricity industry, says the report.

Meanwhile, the aviation industry in the uk has volunteered to curb aircraft emissions in an attempt to dissuade politicians from taxing aviation fuel. The Airport Operators Association, the Royal Aeronautical Society and the Society of British Aerospace Companies are planning to put a proposal on emissions to the British government within the next few months. The industry hopes that an agreement will then be reached within Europe and later, internationally.

The industry wants to avoid the introduction of a tax by stressing that there is scope for improved efficiency. "Although a tax is not staring us in the face, it is an option which we are most concerned about," says Charles Miller, policy director of the British Air Transport Association. The aviation industry feels that limiting emissions by developing lighter aircraft, reducing air traffic delays, introducing better navigation equipment and improving engine efficiency can limit emissions. A recent study of aviation and the environment by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says that fuel efficiency has improved by 70 per cent over the last 40 years and is expected to increase by 20 per cent by 2015 and by 40-50 per cent by 2050, says the study.

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