Consumption versus production – the emissions dilemma

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With the International Climate Change negotiations in full swing in Durban this week, the government is proudly reporting its progress against its Kyoto target. But does the UK risk not being taken seriously. Does solely reporting on emissions produced in the UK tell the whole tale.

Since 1990, production emissions have fallen, but consumption emissions (emissions embedded in the products and services we consume) have grown.

Giving evidence in front of the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee today, I made the point that the UK's climate change policy is dominated by mechanisms based on production emissions which do not present a complete picture and can lead to unintended consequences in policy development, such as carbon leakage.

Understanding the UK's consumption emissions alongside production emissions will provide government with a fuller picture while developing new policies.

The government needs to acknowledge the role of consumption emissions in policy formation in order to better understand the UK's impact on global emissions.

Manufactures are coming under increased pressure in the UK and the government need to examine their goals of rebalancing the economy and greening the country. We believe that these goals go hand in hand and that manufacturers will play a vital role in delivering the green economy, both through their own contributions and by providing the technologies which will enable others. Government must reassess the policy framework to help investment in the UK.

EEF will publish a report on 13th December which highlights our ambitions for creating a greener and more competitive economy, looking at the barriers to realising this and sets out short- and long-term recommendations that will help to overcome these barriers.

A full recording of the session can be found on the Parliament UK website. Please click here

Author

Director of EU Affairs

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