§ The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Margaret Beckett)
The Secretary of State for Trade and Industry and I are today publishing the UK national allocation plan for the EU emissions trading scheme. Copies of the plan will be available in the Libraries of the House from I l am today.
The EU emissions trading scheme is the most significant measure in the EU climate change programme, and begins on 1 January 2005. The objective of the scheme is to reduce, in the most cost effective way, EU emissions of CO2 that contribute to the problems associated with global warming and to encourage investments by business to help EU member states and accession countries achieve the reductions necessary for meeting their Kyoto targets for 2008–12.
The plan was submitted to the European Commission on 30 April to meet a commitment given by Ministers at the end of March. It is being published today as part of a package including a consultation document that explains decisions taken following earlier consultation on a draft of the plan and further issues on which comments are being sought.
The overall number of allowances to be allocated in the first phase of the scheme is consistent with an initial reduction in UK carbon dioxide emissions of 15.2 per cent. on 1990 levels by 2010. The Government are firmly committed to its national goal of moving towards a 20 per cent. reduction in emissions of carbon dioxide by 2010. The overall level of allowances to be allocated in the UK in phase 2 of the scheme (which runs from 2008–12) will be consistent with the trading sector's contribution to achieving the 20 per cent. goal.
I have emphasised to the European Commission the UK's commitment to the scheme and the importance that the UK attaches to the Commission's scrutiny of all national allocation plans to ensure that they deliver on the EU's Kyoto goals—not least because widely varying and inconsistent approaches could be said to have competitive implications. Given the approach that the UK has taken in its plan, it is politically important that the Commission plays this role effectively.