Environmental Audit Committee: Transparency key to success of Emissions Trading Scheme


Jo has urged greater Government transparency on emissions trading

Government openness will be crucial to the successful development of emissions trading, according to Jo Swinson.

In February 2007 the Environmental Audit Committee published a major report on the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS). In a report out today, the Committee publishes the Government’s response to its earlier recommendations – and also takes the relatively unusual step of publishing its own commentary on this Government response. The reason for this is an ongoing concern to ensure that the results of emissions trading are accurately reported to the public.

Select Committee member Jo Swinson said:

“Emissions trading can be a useful tool for cutting emissions in a way that is economically efficient. The Emissions Trading Scheme is not a finished article yet, but improvements are being made to tackle the problems that arose in the scheme’s early stages.

“There is significant scope for increased transparency over these early problems. An improvement in Government openness would go a long way towards dispelling myths and fostering confidence in emissions trading, giving the Emissions Trading Scheme a stronger base on which to build. Such confidence is crucial at this early stage in the scheme’s development.

“With the forthcoming Climate Change Bill incorporating emissions trading as an element of the national carbon budgeting system, these teething problems must be ironed out at this early stage.”

In its report the Committee found that:

• Unless the results of emissions trading are clearly reported there is a risk that the complexities of such transactions might obscure whether they are, in fact, reducing the full amount of emissions they ostensibly represent.

• Buying emissions credits from other countries does not necessarily translate into cutting emissions, at home or abroad; the value of carbon credits – i.e., whether one carbon credit really does represent one tonne of carbon dioxide – is only as real as the trading schemes which issue them are effective.

• Purchasing carbon credits from abroad should be clearly differentiated from making emissions cuts within the UK. But the Government is not always making these distinctions truly explicit. The Committee was particularly concerned by the 2007 Budget Report, which depicted UK emissions in a way which it had previously recommended should never be done.

The report published today by the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) is its Eighth Report of Session 2006-07, Emissions Trading: Government Response to the Committee’s Second Report of Session 2006-07 on the EU ETS, HC 1072. Details of all the Committee’s press releases together with its Reports, oral evidence and other publications, are available on the Committee’s website at:www.parliament.uk/eacom.


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