Guardian investigation reveals how ETS benefits UK’s worst carbon emitters

September 13, 2008 at 1:11 pm | Posted in Climate change, Environment, Global warming | 2 Comments
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Britain’s worst polluters set for windfall of millions
A flagship European scheme designed to fight global warming is set to benefit companies in almost all sectors of the British economy, a Guardian investigation has revealed

David Adam, environment correspondent, Friday September 12 2008 18:08 BST

David Adam has explained this very well.  Unfortunately, this article makes me see red, not green!  Heading out now, but will write more about this irritatingly implemented handout soon, or with any luck by Monday >>>

P.S. Grrr … >.<  here is just one example of how this may play out:


The permits are given to companies by the government, and are supposed to account for their carbon pollution over the next five years. But figures published by the European Commission show that many companies have been allocated far too many permits, which they can sell for cash.

The scheme is supposed to only distribute as many permits as companies require, with one permit allocated for each tonne of CO2 produced.

The figures, compiled by the Guardian and the campaign group Sandbag, suggest that up to 9m extra annual permits have been allocated to 200 companies across almost all sectors of the British economy, from steel and cement making, to car manufacturing and the food and drink industry. Dozens of household names such as Ford, Thames Water, Astra Zeneca and Vauxhall are among the companies that could benefit.

One of the largest over-allocation of permits is to Castle Cement, which makes a quarter of all British cement at three works in Lancashire, north Wales and Rutland. The figures show carbon dioxide emissions from the three plants have fallen from 2.3m tonnes in 2005 to 2.1m tonnes in 2007. Yet, under the ETS, the firm has been handed enough permits to produce 2.9m tonnes CO2 for each of the next five years – an annual surplus of 829,000 permits.

A spokesman for Castle Cement said: “Castle Cement will not require all its allocated permits to cover CO2 emissions in 2008 as we continue to reduce our impact on the environment in line with our sustainability strategy.

“Total CO2 emissions from our three works are likely to be less than in 2007 due to further improvements in efficiency, increased use of low-carbon fuels and a weakening demand for cement caused by the general economic downturn. Surplus credits will be traded.”

At the current price of £21, the company could sell its surplus permits for £83.5m over the five years.




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  1. Hi inel. The Guardian investigation does highlight an issue with the EU ETS. But it doesn’t cast it in a fair light.

    Some companies within the scheme do have more credits than they need, but overall the UK allocation is 60m short (the 9m is the total over-allocation for just the over-allocated companies, not the UK allocation as a whole).

    Plus, it’s the allocation across the whole of Europe that matters. In phase 2, there will be 7% fewer permits each year than there were CO2 emissions in 2007.

    The distribution issues highlighted in the article will be an issue for individual companies, but they’re not of significant concern for environmentalists.

    I’m especially interested in this debate because I recently launched Carbon Retirement (, which works through the EU ETS.

  2. It’s the first time I commented here and I must say that you provide us genuine, and quality information for other bloggers! Good job.
    p.s. You have an awesome template for your blog. Where have you got it from?

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