Could Carbon Rules Endanger The UK ‘s Green Plan?


The UK Government announced a Low Carbon Transition Plan to cut greenhouse emissions, but businesses say the carbon accounting rules behind the plan will hinder it

Government plans for a move to a low-carbon economy, announced yesterday, could face problems as the private sector objects to the way carbon output is measured.

The Low Carbon Transition Plan, announced by multiple Government departments on 15 July, promises that by 2020 the country’s emissions will have been cut by 34 percent compared with 1990 levels. However, ten percent of the cuts are expected to come from businesses, and firms including BT have complained that proposals to measure organisation’s greenhouse gas output will actually prevent green initiatives in the private sector.

More green electricity

By 2020, forty percent of Britain’s electricity will come from low carbon sources (including nuclear and “clean coal”), while a million people will be in green jobs, and 1.5 million homes will generate some of their own electricity, according to Ed Milliband, secretary for energy and climate change. New cars will give off 40 percent less carbon, he promised.

The plan will cost consumers money on their bills (about £92 a year), but businesses will also have to make changes, as it becomes mandatory, under 2008’s Climate Change Act, for larger organisations to file records of their carbon footprint. The Government hopes its plan will be a blueprint for other countries in the run-up to the climate change summit in Copenhagen in December.

“The UK was the first country in the world to legislate for carbon budgets,” said Milliband. “This is a transition plan for Britain, a route-map to 2020, with carbon savings expected across every sector and a carbon budget assigned to every government department alongside its financial budget. In five months, the world must come together at Copenhagen and follow through on the commitment of world leaders last week to stop dangerous climate change. Today we have shown how Britain will play its part.”

However, there may be problems for the rules which underpin the plans. Government departments and commercial firms will have to live within carbon budgets, and failure could have real financial implications. But businesses are protesting that carbon accounting rules – the details of how carbon output is measured – might scupper efforts for businesses to reduce their emissions.

“Government should play a role in injecting stimulus to make organisations generate more electricity,” a BT spokesman told a meeting at the House of Commons to debate carbon reporting rules. “At the moment, all energy is treated as homogeneous in terms of carbon content, and we think the carbon content should be differentiated.”

New carbon rules will kill private wind farms, says BT

BT has criticised the Government’s proposed rules for carbon accounting, which would make its plans for 250MW of wind generation uneconomic. Other companies have joined the protest, including Sun Microsystems.

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