Industries hoarding greenhouse gas emission permits
worth hundreds of millions of pounds, the Guardian can reveal.
from the European
countries and holding on to their more expensive official EU allowances.
emissions blamed for global warming and
the argument of some industries that much deeper cuts in future would be “fatal”
because they could no longer afford to compete against rivals outside the EU.
new emission-cutting technology, and to meet emissions targets until that became
phase of the scheme, from 2013 and 2020, and other costly environmental legislation
planned by government. Business leaders accused the government of being prepared
to sacrifice industry to enable other sectors such as
in the fight against climate change. If we don’t make anything in this country
any more, it means people could still fly to Tenerife once a year and the UK will
keep within the carbon budget.”
nuclear reactors and electric cars. This would have to be imported from more-polluting
steelmakers outside Europe if the industry disappeared in the UK.
greenhouse gases, has already been criticised for giving many companies allowances
to emit more emissions than they need, leaving little incentive to reduce pollution,
and for lax regulation.
allowances from “offset” schemes which reduce emissions in other countries, often
China and India, and using these to cover their emissions while keeping their
official allowances – which are worth more because projects in other countries
could in future be banned.
accrued by four big sectors: iron and steel, coke ovens, metal ore processing,
and cement, which together have 800 installations covered by the trading scheme,
and include big names like ArcelorMittal, Thyssenkrupp, Corus, Holcim and Cemex.
carbon dioxide than they needed in 2008, partly because predicted growth did not
happen and partly because of the recession towards the end of the year. In addition
they bought cheap offsets for a further 18m tonnes plus, which would then free
up more EU allowances. In total the surplus allowances would have been worth nearly
€1.2bn ( £1.1bn) in 2008, or just over €1.1bn at today’s closing price of €12.99.
Based on the forecast average price of €30 a tonne for the third phase of the
ETS from 2013-2016 by analysts Point Carbon they would be worth more than double
that in future.
of the ETS, from 2008-2012 they could be worth as much as €3.2bn at today’s prices,
said Sandbag. Any more credits released by buying offsets would be on top of that.
they’ll cash in the allowances,” said Bryony Worthington, Sandbag’s founder and director. “But if they are thinking long-term then they’ll be thinking ‘I should probably
hold on to them and insulate myself for the future’.”
to invest in future energy savings to reduce pollution, but there were no guarantees
they or any other company would have to do this, said Worthington. “How do we
police it, they could be using it for dividends or anything,” she added.
the amount of steel consumed, but it will determine where it’s produced.”
including steelmakers such as Corus, the chemicals industry and the ceramics industry
– €1bn a year.
buyers of offsets from developing countries, and a map linking every offset scheme
with their European customers.