U.K. Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s Treasury is locked in a battle with Alok Sharma’s Business Department over how to ensure polluters pay for their emissions after Brexit.
The Treasury is pushing to replace the European Union’s cap-and-trade system with an economy-wide carbon tax, which would come into effect after Britain exits the bloc in January. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is drawing up a new emissions-trading system to start in January similar to the EU program that the U.K. currently participates in.
One person familiar with the debate predicted that an ETS was a likely option, and a hybrid is also being considered. A decision is expected soon. It is likely to be announced by Dec. 12, when Prime Minister Boris Johnson will co-host a United Nations meeting on climate action, where he is expected to reveal a new 2030 climate pledge and encourage other countries to set their own goals to bring net emissions to zero.
But with just a little over two months to go before the U.K. leaves the EU and no deal agreed, businesses and traders are becoming increasingly concerned over the lack of certainty for how they’ll be charged for their pollution and whether the U.K system will be linked to the EU’s ETS.
“We’re really running tight on time if they want to implement an ETS,” said Jahn Olsen, analyst for BloombergNEF. “A tax has a lot of obvious disadvantages.”
The U.K. is still negotiating to find a way that could tie a U.K. cap-and-trade system to the EU ETS — if it does opt for that system. But if no deal can be struck, BEIS officials say a standalone U.K. ETS would be just as effective. The EU ETS is the world’s biggest