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United Kingdom auctions carbon emissions permits

The United Kingdom raised nearly €65 million (US$82 million) last week in the first auction of carbon-emission allowances in the second phase of the European trading scheme.

Industries that are part of the scheme need one carbon allowance for every tonne of carbon dioxide they emit into the atmosphere. These allowances have been distributed for free until now, but European Union (EU) rules allow governments to auction up to 10% of the permits between now and 2012, when phase two ends.

The country sold 4 million allowances at a rate of €16.15 per tonne on 19 November, marking a transition towards a system in which companies will be required to pay for the right to pollute. Other EU countries are preparing to follow suit, and the EU is debating rules that would require all carbon allowances to be auctioned from 2013.

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United Kingdom auctions carbon emissions permits. Nature 456, 435 (2008).

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