Government trade body to report emissions

Energy minister Malcolm Wicks has announced at a Commons Environmental Audit Committee inquiry that the Export Credit Guarantee Department (ECGD) will report on greenhouse gas emissions from its supported projects.

The ECGD trade body assists UK exporters by providing insurance against non-payment and loan guarantees for foreign buyers of UK products and services.

From this financial year, the ECGD will report direct and indirect emissions from developments with potentially high environmental impacts. ‘Medium potential impact’ ones will follow in 2009/10. The minister stated: "This will make ECGD the first export credit guarantee agency in the world to report such emissions in a systematic way."

An ECGD spokesperson told ENDS it is working with the Environment Department (DEFRA) on how it could report emissions from supported projects. The ECGD will lobby other countries’ trade supporting bodies to adopt clear reporting standards.

Few emissions reports are likely to be issued in the near future. Smaller projects will not report, as a threshold will be set around £8.2 million.

Only projects exceeding 100,000 tonnes of CO2 per year from direct emissions and electricity consumption will be covered, corresponding to the emissions reporting rule of the International Finance Corporation (part of the World Bank) standard on pollution prevention and abatement.

The last high-potential impact project the ECGD supported was a Saudi Arabian petrochemical complex in 2006/07, expected to emit 875,000 tonnes of CO2 annually when commissioned. Two medium-impact projects had support in the last financial year.

Most ECGD support goes to the defence and aerospace industries. As these will not be subject to emissions analysis, committee member Nick Hurd MP concluded the proposals will give "only a very partial assessment of the impact on the environment of what [the ECGD does] supported by public money".

The Environmental Audit Committee aims to publish its report on the ECGD in October.

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