UK CBAM: The UK's Carbon Import Levy

What businesses need to know about the UK's proposed Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism

What is the UK Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism?

The UK CBAM (Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism) is a significant step towards achieving the UK’s decarbonization goals and combating climate change.

Goods imported into the UK from countries with a lower or no carbon price will have to pay a levy by 2027.

Like the EU CBAM, unprepared businesses who import or export to the UK could face higher costs and carbon reporting challenges.

When is CBAM being implemented in the UK?

The UK Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM) is set to be implemented by 2027. Initially, the UK government committed to an implementation as early as 2026, but updated the timeline following its public consultation.

Why is CBAM being proposed in the UK?

By implementing the CBAM, the UK aims to protect its industries, reduce carbon leakage risk, and encourage global partners to adopt more sustainable practices. Carbon leakage risk occurs when domestic industries face stringent emissions regulations, leading them to shift production to countries with weaker climate policies.

Which sectors will UK CBAM apply to?

The UK CBAM is designed to tackle the most carbon-intensive industrial goods imported to the UK, putting a price of the most carbon price on products in the aluminum, cement, ceramics, fertiliser, glass, hydrogen, iron and steel sectors.

A consultation will take place in 2024 to determine the precise list of products in the UK CBAM's scope.

Legislative process of CBAM UK

The UK government is currently working on the legislative process to establish the CBAM. This involves consultations with various stakeholders, industry experts, and policymakers to design an effective mechanism that aligns with the nation's climate goals.

Latest UK CBAM consultation

The latest UK CBAM consultation launched on 21 March 2024 and seeks views on proposals for the design and administration of the regulation, from importers and their agents, other businesses, individuals, tax advisers, trade and professional bodies and other interested parties, including those overseas.

Responses should be submitted via this form by 13 June 2024 and respondents should read the UK government's consultation document.

Need support understanding the impacts of UK CBAM on your business?

Previous UK CBAM consultations

A consultation ran from 30 March until 22 June 2023. The UK government published a consultation document and factsheet on measures to mitigate future carbon leakage risk, which included potential policies such as:

  • The overarching pricing mechanism;
  • Mandatory product standards (MPS) that would establish an upper limit on the carbon emissions embodied in specific industrial products. These standards could be designed to become more stringent over time;
  • Demand-side policies aimed at promoting the market for low carbon goods, such as product labelling based on voluntary product standards and initiatives for public procurement of environmentally friendly products;
  • An embodied emissions reporting system, which could facilitate the implementation of the CBAM policy by providing accurate data on the carbon footprint of products.

On 18 December 2023, the UK government published its consultation outcome following over 160 submissions from stakeholders.

There will be further consultations in 2024 regarding the products covered by the UK CBAM.

How is UK CBAM calculated?

The calculation of UK CBAM certificate price will be based on the carbon footprint of imported goods. Companies exporting to the UK will be required to pay a carbon price, reflecting the difference between the carbon price in the country of origin (if applicable) and the UK's carbon price (which is currently one of the highest of all major trading partners).

There is currently a question mark over whether the UK will need to peg the UK ETS price to the EUA price, because if the allowances are not at parity, it will create a significant administrative burden in calculating border levies.

The measurement of emissions for UK CBAM reporting is likely to be similar to the EU's methodology for calculating CBAM emissions and declaring CBAM emissions.

How do companies prepare for CBAM in the UK?

Companies can prepare for the UK CBAM and stay competitive in the UK market by:

  • Conducting a thorough assessment of their carbon emissions;
  • Implementing measures to reduce their carbon footprint;
  • Partnering with lower-carbon suppliers;
  • Investing in cleaner technologies.

Companies can prepare for the CBAM by using CarbonChain to measure the emissions embedded in their imported products and the carbon intensity of supplier facilities, as well as identify lower-carbon suppliers.


Does CBAM apply to the UK?

The EU CBAM will apply to UK-produced goods. The UK will also launch its own CBAM as part of its efforts to address carbon leakage and promote a green transition.

What is the CBAM tax?

A CBAM tax is a levy (or tariff) imposed on imported goods based on their carbon footprint. It aims to level the playing field for domestic industries and incentivize international partners to reduce emissions.

What emissions are covered by UK CBAM?

The CBAM would cover the embedded emissions in goods imported into the UK, including:

  • iron & steel
  • aluminium
  • cement
  • ceramics
  • glass
  • fertilizer
  • hydrogen

How does the UK CBAM differ from the EU CBAM?

  • Unlike the EU CBAM, the UK version does not cover electricity.
  • From the get-go, the UK CBAM will apply to Scope 1 and 2 emissions, plus select precursor product emissions.

Is carbon reporting mandatory in the UK?

In addition to the upcoming UK CBAM for imported goods, the UK already requires companies to report their carbon information through the Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting (SECR) policy.

Download the factsheet

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