Market-based instruments are often said to be much less demanding of official and industry resources than regulation, but the claim has never been properly tested in the UK.
Two years ago, however, a Treasury submission to a parliamentary inquiry disclosed that 29,000 man-hours - about 17 man-years - had been invested by officials and consultants in preparing for the climate change agreements introduced in 2001. At the peak workload, 31 officials were involved.
Those eye-opening figures appear already to have been beaten during preparations of the national allocation plan under the EU emission trading scheme over the past few months.
Environment Minister Elliot Morley said that more than 40 staff in the Environment and Trade and Industry Departments and the devolved administrations have been involved in preparing the plan. "Significant contributions" have also been made by other Departments, including the Treasury and energy regulator Ofgem.1To date, costs to DEFRA and the DTI alone have amounted to £1.3 million in salaries, seminars and consultants' fees - and there will be plenty more before the job is finished.