Under UK greenhouse gas regulations, which are based on the European Union GHG cap and trade program, companies are responsible for accurately reporting their emissions each year and for surrendering allowances (‘carbon credits’) to cover all of their emissions. The regulations provide for a civil penalty of €100 per tonne ($131 CDN per tonne) for emissions in excess of those for which allowances have been surrendered.
ExxonMobil Chemical Limited notified the Scottish Environment Protection Agency that it had identified certain emissions sources that had not been included in its 2008 GHG emissions report and for which allowances had therefore not been given up.
The fine imposed on ExxonMobil for the excess emissions was €3,296,600 ($4,333,068 CDN). This is reported as being one of the largest, if not the largest, environmental penalties ever imposed in the UK.
This is a paperwork offence. No harm resulted to the environment, other than that almost 33,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide have been emitted without a similar amount of offsets having been generated elsewhere. However, the message to other emitters is clear: failing to properly report emissions and comply with caps, where enforced, can be very expensive.
The enforcement statistics for the Scottish Environment Protection Agency for 2010/2011 have just been published and can be found at http://www.sepa.org.uk/about_us/sepa_board/agendas_and_papers/idoc.ashx?docid=e0020b5f-e6eb-4128-b25f-6d30eae27bdd&version=-1