Unless new policies are adopted, CO2 emissions cuts from the power generation sector in the UK will be offset in 2010 by continued growth in energy consumption from transport and households, Cambridge Econometrics have warned. Under the Kyoto Protocol, the EU has committed to reduce its overall emissions of greenhouse gases by 8% in 2008-2012 compared to 1990 levels. The UK's share of the EU burden has been calculated to amount to a 12.5% cut in emissions.

The government of Prime Minister Tony Blair has gone further than this by setting a target to reduce CO2 emissions by 20% in 2010. A white paper on energy published in February 2003 set out the ambitious long-term goal to reduce CO2 emissions by 60% by 2050.

UK Prime Minister Tony Blair pledged to use the upcoming EU presidency to put forward new initiatives to combat climate change.

Under current policies, UK carbon emissions are projected to be 12.75% lower in 2010 than in 1990 - way off the government's planned 20% cut, researchers at Cambridge Econometrics have warned.

They added that the UK's incoming government would have to announce new policies if it is to meet its 2010 CO2-reduction goal and drive Britain towards a low-CO2 economy.

But Cambridge Econometrics said these lower than expected projections would not stop the government from meeting its commitment to reduce greenhouse gases by 12.5% compared to 1990 levels - the baseline year referred to in the Kyoto Protocol.

The impact of the UK participating in the EU's CO2 Emissions Trading Scheme (EU-ETS) is expected to be strongly felt in the power generation sector with a projected 6% cut in emissions between 2005 and 2010 thanks to reduced power generation from coal-fired plants. Overall, emissions from the power generation sector in 2010 are projected to be 37.5% below 1990 levels.

But the researchers calculated that the sharp reductions in emissions in the power generation sector were likely to be offset by a continued growth in energy consumption from transport and households.

These two sectors are expected to remain well above 1990 levels and will remain key obstacles to a low-CO2 economy, the researchers said. They called for urgent measures from the government, including the promotion of renewable energies and measures to improve energy-efficiency in transport and households rather than a new nuclear programme.

A Commission communication to reduce emissions from aircrafts is expected during the UK Presidency. It appears that inclusion in the EU CO2 emissions trading scheme (EU-ETS) is the option most favoured both by airlines and the Commission but other options remain open (eg a tax or a charge).

A one-day debate is to be held on 1 June during the Commission's Green Week event to look at these measures and how they can be implemented in the EU. The results of a public consultation launched in March will be presented at the event.