A plan by the British government to buy its way out of half its CO2 reduction targets weakens efforts to reverse climate change, a top scientist has claimed.
Dr Keith Allott, head of the WWF-UK’s climate change programme, said a leaked report which suggested EU nations should be allowed to trade away 50 per cent of their emissions was ‘appalling’.
European nations are currently expected to make around 70 per cent of their carbon reductions on home turf, leaving 30 per cent available for trade. Defra said the details need finalising but the deal would help clean energy projects in developing countries.
But reducing that domestic obligation to 50 per cent could allow an extra billion tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere, according to WWF.
Dr Allott, head of WWF-UK’s climate change programme, said: “This is an appalling proposal from the UK. Already the CO2 targets aren’t nearly strict enough to avoid the risk of dangerous climate change as defined by scientists. This would weaken the effort even more.
“The difference between what the EU are proposing and the UK are proposing is equivalent to 34 extra coal-fired power stations in Europe.”
The dispute centres on the credibility of the system used for trading international carbon permits – the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) – arranged under the Kyoto Protocol.
It allows rich countries to offset some of their emissions reductions by purchasing carbon credits which help developing countries get clean technology.
The CDM has been criticised because some investors are obtaining credits for clean energy projects in countries like China and India that would have been built anyway, meaning that no CO2 is saved overall.
A spokeswoman for Defra said: “Everyone recognises that in order to achieve a global reduction in CO2 significant cuts in emissions will have to be made.
“It is clearly sensible to do this as cost effectively as possible whatever country these reductions are made in.”