Ministers shouldn’t boast about Kyoto, the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions have risen

Environment Ministers from around the world are gathering in Rio for the Earth Summit. They will share platitudes and congratulate each other for shifting the debate about climate change into one about green growth.

Environment Ministers will no doubt be competing with each other to compare decreases in carbon dioxide emissions. But in the counting of carbon much of what matters is in the detail. This paper assesses the UK’s carbon record and finds that it is not what it seems.

The reporting requirements under Kyoto are a regrettable fact enshrined in an international treaty, and the
government is of course obliged to continue reporting on that basis. But the Government should build on the
basis already partially contained in its own Environmental Accounts. It should:

  • Voluntarily count aviation emissions and use these as a basis for introducing a tax on aviation fuel andincreasing passenger duty;
  • Voluntarily include sea transport emissions in our totals;
  • Include an estimate of the emissions embodied in both imports and exports, and consider how farmore energy efficient domestic manufacture of many imported items might reduce our overallgreenhouse gas impact; and
  • Push for this to become standard across the EU, setting a global example
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