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Last Updated: Monday, 19 January, 2004, 16:43 GMT
Spotlight falls on 'big emitters'
power station, BBC
The government plans to cut carbon emissions by 20% by 2010
Environmentalists welcome UK Government proposals to cut carbon emissions from industry, of which a significant percentage comes from power companies.

A 20% cut in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 2010 is likely to place considerable pressure on UK industry.

But other EU countries need to take even tougher action, say campaigners.

Power companies are the biggest sector covered by the EU directive, accounting for 60% of the total emissions - around 1,500 megatonnes of CO2 per year.

A report by PriceWaterhouseCoopers and French firm Enerpresse last year found that seven European companies accounted for 70% of CO2 emissions from the power industry.

Tough targets

German energy firm RWE was the biggest emitter in Europe, followed by Italian electricity company Enel and Swedish energy producer Vattenfall.

The EU's largest power generators produced 693 megatonnes (mt) of CO2 in 2003, an increase of 0.8%.

About 35% of our electricity is produced by burning coal in power stations, a process which produces 2-3 times more CO2 than gas.

The UK plans set tougher emissions reduction targets than those proposed by the Kyoto treaty.

EU countries such as Spain and Ireland will need to introduce tougher action than the UK simply to meet their Kyoto targets because their economies have grown faster than originally projected.

"The effects of carbon emissions are never regional; they're global," said Kevin Anderson of climate change think tank the Tyndall Centre in Manchester.

Other sources

The UK's emissions trading plans will benefit power companies that rely on cleaner types of energy generation, such as nuclear, water and wind. Coal-powered generators would be the most heavily penalised.

Environmental campaigner Friends of the Earth has drawn up its own league table of the leading CO2-emitting power stations in the UK.

Top is the Cockenzie power station in East Lothian run by Scottish Power, followed by Ferrybridge in West Yorkshire run by AEP and Longannet in Clackmannanshire run by Scottish Power.

About 38% of UK carbon emissions are industrial, but a significant percentage, about 27%, comes from domestic sources and from transport.

Campaigning groups are keen not to let the government forget the other sources of CO2 emissions.

"[The government] will also need to introduce similarly tough measures to curb rising emissions in transport and the domestic sectors," Friends of the Earth said in a statement.

The BBC's Fergus Walsh
"What's bad for industry will be good for the environment"

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Climate change: The big emitters
29 Sep 03  |  Science/Nature
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09 Jan 04  |  Science/Nature
Emissions trading launches in UK
02 Apr 02  |  Science/Nature

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