Net-Zero Target Fails To Include Incinerator Emissions

Georgia Elliott-Smith, an environmental campaigner working with the group ‘Element-4‘ is launching a legal challenge against the government to include incinerators in post-Brexit environmental policy.

The European Union offered protections against damaging environmental practices, and with the UK due to leave the EU, new legislation is to be enacted to fall in line with the UK’s 2050 net-zero emissions pledge. Unfortunately, incinerators, a huge emitter of carbon dioxide, are not included in the government’s plans.

Following Brexit, the government’s proposal for an Emissions Trading Scheme aims to put a price on carbon pollution as part of the EU trade negotiations between the EU and UK “if it suits both sides’ interests”.

On her Crowd Justice campaign page, Miss Elliott-Smith said: “In 2019, the UK had 48 incinerators that poured 6.6 million tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere – and didn’t pay a single penny for it. That’s the same as all the emissions from Birmingham and Manchester put together. Worse, a further 17 incinerators are under construction and dozens more are seeking planning permission…” “…Omitting major polluters like incinerators from the UK ETS (UK Emissions Trading Scheme) is directly against the Paris Agreement – it is on this basis that I plan to take the government to court…”

The government opened an incineration plant in Edmonton, north London but rejected plans for a Cambridge site highlighting preferential treatment for affluent areas. More than 60% of household waste is incinerated for energy recovery. According to UK Win (United Kingdom Without Incineration Network), 6.6 million tonnes of co2 was released into the atmosphere by the UK alone. This figure increased from nearly 5 million tonnes in 2017 to 5.2 million tonnes in 2018 which only calls to attention profitability over environmental protections.

On her crowdfunding page, Miss Elliott-Smith says: “Brexit means the UK government is rewriting environmental policies, but incineration is excluded from the new UK Emissions Trading Scheme, a crucial way to manage and reduce CO2. Ignoring incineration – simply because it’s cheaper – will be disastrous”.

Not only is incineration being kept due to its low-cost waste management and potential for energy recovery, but the weight of co2 it emits is also swiftly escalating each year.

Miss Elliott-Smith’s case mirrors that of ‘Friends Of The Earth’, who won a battle to stop Heathrow airport’s third runway project as it goes against the principles of the Paris Climate Agreement. The airport is one of the largest greenhouse gas emitters in the country. Greenhouse gases are the primary cause of increasing global temperatures catalysing fast-changing environmental changes that have been linked to droughts, conflict and natural disasters.