Millions of British taxpayers’ money to subside CO2 production

0
Photo shows the first global atmospheric CO2 distribution map produced by the Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, through reverse algorithm in April, 2017. (Photo/Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences)
Photo shows the first global atmospheric CO2 distribution map produced by the Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, through reverse algorithm in April, 2017. (Photo/Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences)

The British taxpayer could pay tens of millions of pounds to subsidize a major US-owned fertilizer manufacturer to ensure the supply of CO2 for the food sector continues amid the energy crisis.

A deal brokered by Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng will see the UK Government provide “limited financial support” towards CF Fertilisers’ running costs to prevent a food supply shortage at Britain’s supermarkets.

The agreement will be in place for three weeks while the “CO2 market adapts” to the surge in global gas prices, according to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Beis).

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Secretary George Eustice said the final details of the agreement were still being worked on but “it’s going to be into many millions, possibly the tens of millions.”

CF Fertilisers suspended production at plants in Teesside and Cheshire due to soaring energy costs as global gas prices spiked.

The CO2 produced as a by-product at the plants is vital to the food industry, where it is used to stun animals in slaughterhouses and to keep packaged products fresh.

Eustice defended the decision to pump tax money into the firm.

“The truth is, if we did not act, then by this weekend, or certainly by the early part of next week, some of the poultry processing plants would need to close, and then we would have animal welfare issues – because you would have lots of chickens on farms that couldn’t be slaughtered on time and would have to be euthanized on farms. We would have a similar situation with pigs,” he told Sky News.

“There would have been a real animal welfare challenge here and a big disruption to the food supply chain, so we felt we needed to act.”

It was “justified for the Government to intervene in this way, in a very short-term, targeted way” because “if we didn’t, there would be a risk to our food supply chain – that’s not a risk the Government is willing to take,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

Kwarteng said the decision would avert disruption in the “many critical industries that rely on a stable supply” of carbon dioxide.

CF Fertilisers produces around 60 per cent of the UK’s CO2, used primarily by the food sector but also in the health and nuclear industries. It suspended operations at its Teesside and Cheshire plants because of high global gas costs.

Beis officials said the “exceptional short-term arrangement” with the American business would allow the company to immediately restart operations and produce CO2 at its Billingham plant in Teesside.

Eustice suggested the second plant would also be brought back online.

He said the food industry will have to accept a major hike in C02 rates, which could increase fivefold from 200 pounds (273 dollars) a tonne to 1,000 pounds, but because the gas makes up only a small part of overall costs there would not be a “major impact on food prices” for consumers.

Ian Wright, chief executive of the Food and Drink Federation, said: “I think it’s a temporary solution but it’s a welcome one, and means there won’t be many noticeable shortages on the shelves, although there are already some because of staff shortages.”

He said the industry needs to “get its act together.”

Wright also warned that although food would continue to enter warehouses in the lead-up to Christmas, “the supply chain is so fragile that any other shock might do it in as well.”

Eustice told LBC Radio “Christmas is safe” but acknowledged “there are challenges in the food supply chain.”

The shutdown of CF Fertilisers’ plants coincided with maintenance at two other factories which supply CO2 to the UK.

Announcing the details of the agreement with CF Fertilisers, Kwarteng said: “This agreement will ensure the many critical industries that rely on a stable supply of CO2 have the resources they require to avoid disruption.

:The quick and decisive action we have taken to resolve the issue shows the seriousness with which we have approached it.

“In our ongoing response to manage the impact of global gas price rises, we will continue to protect businesses and consumers.”

Send your news stories to newsghana101@gmail.com and via WhatsApp on +233 244244807
Follow News Ghana on Google News

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here