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British Taxpayers May Pay Price for Missed Emission Targets

carbonbudgetsBritain may have to purchase carbon credits from private companies in a new carbon trading scheme set to begin in 2010 to help them meet their national greenhouse gas emissions targets, reports Reuters.

The latest report on Greening Government from an influential parliamentary committee says Britain’s government may miss its own public sector emission reduction targets set at 34 percent by 2020, from 1990 levels, according to Reuters. The report also indicates that the amount of renewable energy used by Government departments has dropped from 28.3 percent in 2006-2007 to 22 percent in 2007-2008.

The report notes that the UK Government is not doing enough to reduce energy use in its buildings, which account for the bulk of emissions, and as a result will miss its target of a 12.5 percent reduction in carbon dioxide by 2010/11. Ultimately, this could mean taxpayers have to pay for carbon allowances under the Carbon Reduction Commitment, a carbon trading scheme starting in April 2010. Scheme participants include UK businesses, local authorities, and public sector organizations above a certain size.

Tim Yeo, chairman of the Environmental Audit Committee, which compiled the report, said in the article that taxpayers may end up paying the price to buy carbon credits from the private sector.

The report makes it clear that carbon offsetting is not a substitute for action to reduce emissions, stating “…emissions should be measured, avoided and reduced before offsetting could be considered.”

The committee report comes in the wake of the UK energy department’s recent analysis on how it plans to cut the country’s emissions by 34 percent by 2020. Some of the plans include pay-as-you-save home energy makeovers, and increasing electricity production from low carbon sources. The report covers ways to cut emissions in the power sector, houses and communities, transportation, and agriculture.

According to the UK Low Carbon Transition Plan, the UK has already cut its emissions by 21 percent, which is equivalent to cutting emissions from four cities the size of London. The report notes that the plan will not increase average energy bills by 2015. However, implementation of all climate change policies will add 8 percent to all household bills, on average, by 2020.

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