UK’s carbon reduction to impact 5,000 companies

UNITED KINGDOM - The Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) scheme being implemented by the United Kingdom in an effort to improve energy efficiency and reduce the country's carbon footprint is likely to affect more than 5,000 large domestic, private and public sector organizations including companies, supermarkets, hotels, schools, hospitals, banks and local authorities.

The mandatory CRC trading scheme, a part of the Climate Change Act, requires companies in the UK to record, monitor and report their energy usage. The scheme is projected to result in savings of more than $1.4 billion by 2020 and reduce carbon-dioxide emissions by nearly 4 million tons per year. The UK is aiming to reduce carbon emissions by 80% by 2050 from the emission levels recorded in 1990.

Eligibility criterion for the CRC program is based on the electricity consumption of an organization. All locations and facilities of an organization including its subsidiaries are considered as a single entity.

Organizations with a total metered half-hourly electricity consumption of at least 6,000 megawatt-hours in 2008 are obligated to participate in the program.

The CRC trading scheme is slated to begin in April 2010, with an introductory phase spanning three years. During the "qualification period" of the introductory phase, organizations will be required to assess whether they are eligible to participate in the program. This would be followed by the "registration period" in which participant organizations are legally required to register and disclose their energy footprint by September 30, 2010, or within the first six months of every phase.

Compliance years will run from April to March. The first compliance year, April 2010-March 2011, known as the "footprint year," will facilitate monitoring and reporting of emissions by participants based on their usage. A monetary fine will be levied on the defaulting organizations.

Companies are expected to estimate their energy consumption at the beginning of a compliance year based on their usage and buy carbon allowances sold by the government for each ton of carbon dioxide emitted. Electricity, gas, coal, liquefied petroleum gas and diesel are some of the carbon-emitting fuels included in the list in the CRC regulations. The first sale of allowances is planned from the second compliance year, April 2011-March 2012. The price of carbon allowances is currently fixed at $16.80 per ton of carbon dioxide emissions for the introductory phase, 2010-2012.

Participants are required to submit their annual energy consumption and emission figures at the end of every compliance year. They will have to purchase additional allowances at a higher price if the actual emission figures exceed forecasts. Companies will be able to buy extra allowances either through the secondary market from other CRC participants or through the safety valve. The more carbon an organization emits, the more it will have to spend in buying allowances. This is expected to motivate organizations to trim emissions and save on energy bills.

Subsequent phases are planned to run for a seven-year period with the first capped phase scheduled to commence in 2013. In this phase, auctioning of carbon allowances will be permitted.

The government plans to publish a CRC league table annually listing the top-performing CRC participants. The revenue from the CRC scheme will be used for financially rewarding and recognizing the most energy-efficient companies.


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