Scottish Universities Face £20 Million Carbon Bill

SCOTTISH universities, currently facing major financial cuts, have been rocked by research that estimates that they face a new tax to cut carbon emissions of up to £20 million.

The UK’s Carbon Reduction Commitment Energy Efficiency Scheme (CRC) is to apply the tax to higher education institutions across Scotland between 2012 and 2016 reports Herald Scotland.

Not that it will be just education that will be affected, businesses that use large amounts of energy will also have to pay the tax calculated on the amount of their CO2 emissions. The Scheme does mean that any revenue generated will reduce as an organisations energy efficiency and hence CO2 emissions improved.

Initially the CRC Scheme promised to reward financially any organisations and businesses who could prove their reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, with the money generated from a tax on those who proved inefficient in their energy use, but the UK Government changed the original plan and will now keep all the funding, they claim to reinvest in low-carbon technologies.

Universities publicly supported any such efforts to cut emissions but now they are concerned about the scale what they may have to pay out from already assailed funds.

The CRC Scheme timing couldn’t be worse for higher education in Scotland with universities facing reductions in their teaching budget of nearly 11 percent for 2010/11, representing a funding drop of £69 million, a reduction from £678m to £609m.

Kevin Houston, of Carbon Masters, who advise businesses on how to reduce carbon emissions, said the Scottish university sector will be hit hard. A table of Scottish universities compiled by Houston shows how ever increasing energy costs are likely to be added to the woes of a carbon tax.

“Scottish universities are facing a multimillion-pound bill over the next few years because of the new carbon tax and they will have to plan for it.

“There are considerable sums of money that universities will have to pay, but it is important to see this in the context of the funding cuts. The other concern is that we believe energy prices will continue to rise, which will cost universities more because they are significant users of electricity.

“Even if they dramatically improve their efficiency they will still face significant bills.” Houston concluded.

Picture by Jonathan Oldenbuck

Friday 7th January 2011

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