Emissions trading scheme proposed

British business leaders have revealed outline proposals for a UK-wide greenhouse gas emissions trading scheme to start by April 2001. The Emissions Trading Group (ETG), set up by the Confederation of British Industry and the Advisory Committee on Business and the Environment, has been working with government on developing a scheme open to all companies in the UK and to run alongside the climate change levy. Twenty-five major companies are supporting further development to get the scheme going in 2001. Emissions trading appeals to business because of the greater flexibility it allows in meeting environmental targets. Under the proposals, companies will volunteer to take on binding emissions limits, and then trade with each other to meet the limits in the most cost-effective way. But the proposals state that to take on such binding limits voluntarily, companies need to see a commercial benefit, such as tax incentives or, for firms who have negotiated discounts under the climate change levy in exchange for emissions targets, the ability to meet their commitments more economically. The government is considering the ETG's proposals. An emissions trading scheme will complement other climate change measures in the business sector, says environment minister Michael Meacher. "It will also open the way to international trading opportunities," he adds.