Carbon dioxide emissions covered by the UK’s emissions trading scheme (ETS) in the first year of operation in 2021 were 107.8 million tonnes, according to the UK ETS Authority.
The UK ETS is a system designed to incentivize major polluters to lower emissions by compelling them to purchase permits to emit carbon dioxide. The scheme came into operation on January 1, 2021, following the UK’s departure from the European Union and its withdrawal from the EU’s emission trading system.
The UK ETS’s first phase, which will last until 2030, applies to energy-intensive industry, power sector, and aviation. The land use and agriculture sectors are not included in the scheme despite the Climate Change Committee’s recommendation.
Last April, the UK government declared an ambitious climate change goal of reducing emissions by 78% by 2035 compared to 1990 levels, which is expected to bring the country more than three-quarters of the way to net zero by 2050.
Total greenhouse gas emissions in the UK in 2020 were estimated to be about 405.5 million tonnes, down roughly 10% from the previous year, with carbon dioxide emissions accounting for around 79% of the total, according to the government.
The UK ETS Authority remarked that as a result of changes to aviation and stationary scope, UK ETS emissions and UK emissions under the EU ETS are not directly comparable.
Emissions for aircraft operators are recorded by origin of operator under the EU system. Under the UK ETS, on the other hand, all aircraft operators, regardless of country of origin, are covered for UK internal flights, flights between the UK and Gibraltar, and flights departing the UK for the European Economic Area.
At the end of March, the UK ETS Authority launched a consultation on the further development of the scheme, with the goal of making the UK system the world’s first net zero consistent cap and trade market and ensuring that it plays a crucial role towards achieving the country’s climate targets.