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Pacts complicate UK climate change targets -DEFRA

Written by: Staff
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LONDON, Mar 21 (Reuters) Britain cannot ignore recent, international climate change agreements as it struggles to meet its domestic carbon emission targets, a government official told a Reuters conference on climate change and investment.

Britain is set to announce this month whether it will meet by 2010 a target to reduce its emissions of heat-trapping carbon dioxide -- commonly blamed for global warming-- by 20 per cent from 1990 levels.

But since it set that target, the global Kyoto Protocol and the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) have created carbon markets that allow polluters to buy their way towards meeting their limits on emissions.

These markets make it more difficult for Britain to view its emissions targets in isolation, given that from next year UK companies will be able to buy permission to emit carbon from as far afield as China or India.

''It is now obligatory for us to have our energy-intensive industries within the EU ETS,'' Henry Derwent, Head of the Climate Change Programme at the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, told the conference late yesterday.

''It would be politically pretty difficult for us to say that we repudiate the whole Kyoto mechanisms and the whole extension of the market to Europe in order to maintain absolute purity of a set of domestic targets. It's got broader, wider than that.'' The government says Britain is currently heading towards only a 10 percent carbon reduction by 2010.

To include within this domestic target emission reductions that industry had bought from outside the country could help it meet its goal but prove politically difficult to explain.

Failure to meet its 2010, self-imposed target would not represent any treaty violation but would be an embarrassment to Prime Minister Tony Blair, who has put tackling climate change high on his agenda.

Britain is on track to meet its separate, Kyoto Protocol carbon emission targets for 2008 to 2012.

Reuters PR DB1010

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