Environment Secretary David Miliband today announced the UK's proposal for the next period of the European Union's Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS). The proposal outlines the contribution business needs to make to help tackle climate change and save 8 million tonnes of carbon each year.

A saving of this amount would equate to the emissions of 4 ½ million households.

Emissions trading currently places a cap on carbon dioxide emissions from European industries. Under the scheme, organisations that emit less carbon dioxide than their allocation are able to sell their unused allowances. These can be bought on the newly established carbon market by organisations which need to buy allowances to cover extra emissions. Charging industry for the amount of carbon it creates acts as an incentive for industry to limit its carbon emissions plus investing in low carbon technology.

The Government acknowledges that urgent action is needed now to stabilise the emissions of carbon dioxide. As such. the UK is at the forefront of tackling climate change, both internationally and at home. It is projected to cut emissions of greenhouse gases by 23-25% by 2010 – nearly double the target set by the Kyoto treaty.

The Government today also announced the creation of a new joint Defra/DTI Environmental Transformation Fund. The fund will aim to reduce carbon emissions by investing in renewable energies and other green technologies.

“Climate change is probably the greatest threat to our way of life,” said Mr Miliband in the Houses of Parliament.

“Cutting the emissions of carbon dioxide from all sectors of society is vital to avoid dangerous climate change.

“The more carbon that is released into the atmosphere, the greater the potential for millions of people to suffer from famine, disease and water shortage through increased temperatures and rising sea levels.

“Every sector of society has to play its part in combating climate change, as every part of society will be affected by its impact.

“That means that Government, businesses and individuals have to take action and work together.” He explained that today's announcement offered business greater certainty that emissions trading is here to stay and that the Government is committed to making it work.

“The scheme provides industry with the flexibility to decide whether to make emissions reductions themselves, or to buy reductions from others.

“We believe there is a major opportunity for the UK not just to invest in renewable energy, other non nuclear low carbon technologies and energy efficiency, but also to build successful businesses in these fields.

“The new Environmental Transformation Fund will grasp this opportunity.

“We are determined to show that a move towards a low carbon global economy need not be at the expense of our economic or social objectives. Failure to tackle climate change would have a much greater economic and social cost. “Therefore, we will support the Commission in its efforts to enforce tough caps, to provide greater long term certainty in this scheme.”