British Voluntary CO2 Emissions Cuts Produce Results

LONDON, UK, April 7, 2003 (ENS) - The UK government today issued an upbeat first review of a series of voluntary agreements on cutting carbon dioxide emissions reached with 44 industry sectors in 2000 and 2001.

Nearly 90 percent of affected sites met their target for cutting emissions in 2002. Initial results from the climate change agreements "demonstrate real gains in energy efficiency," the government said.

The Chemical Industries Association, representing one of the UK's major energy users, claimed a 14.5 percent improvement in energy efficiency since 1998 and said it had exceeded its 2002 climate change agreements emission reduction target.

In total, 5,000 companies are covered by climate change agreements. Collectively they reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 13.5 million metric tons in 2002 - an amount three times greater than the government's target.

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Corus Steel Works, Teesside (Photo by Ian Britton courtesy Freefoto)
A single firm, steel maker Corus, contributed nearly nine million tons of this, largely due to plant closures and production cuts.

The change agreements are linked to the UK's industrial energy tax, the climate change levy. Affected sites that meet their CCA targets are entitled to an estimated UKú300 million (US$466 million) discount on the tax.

Almost 600,000 emissions allowances were traded to meet the targets under the UK's greenhouse gas emission trading scheme, the government said. Overachievement will have to be "independently verified before allowances can be allocated," it added.

Overall UK carbon dioxide emissions fell by a healthy 3.5 percent in 2002, according to preliminary figures released late last month. Industry's contribution to this through change agreements was "significant," environment minister Michael Meacher said today.

The drop in emissions is in line with the trend needed to ensure the UK meets its Kyoto Protocol target to reduce greenhouse gases to 12.5 percent below 1990 levels by 2012. And also, the government claims, the more ambitious goal of a 60 percent cut in carbon emissions by 2050.

Meacher said, "Climate change is the greatest environmental challenge facing the world, and the UK is leading the world in meeting this challenge."

Independent forecasters have been gloomy about the chances of the UK meeting its domestic target of a 20 percent cut in carbon dioxide by 2010, following rises in emissions in 2000 and 2001.

Higher carbon dioxide emissions in 2000 and 2001 were due mainly to increased use of coal, lower nuclear output and lower temperatures, the environment ministry said. The subsequent fall in 2002 was caused by lower coal use, warmer weather and reduced energy consumption per unit of economic output.

The United Kingdom's performance on greenhouse gas emissions is important for the whole of the European Union because, along with Germany, it is expected to counterbalance a failure to comply with Kyoto Protocol targets on the part of several member states.

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