The European Union Emissions Trading System (EU ETS), also known as the ''European Union Emissions Trading Scheme'', was the first large greenhouse gas emissions trading scheme in the world, and remains the biggest. It was launched in 2005 to fight Global warming and is a major pillar of EU climate policy.〔European Commission Climate Action, (Emissions Trading System ).〕 As of 2013, the EU ETS covers more than 11,000 factories, power stations, and other installations with a net heat excess of 20 MW in 31 countries—all 28 EU member states plus Iceland, Norway, and Liechtenstein. The installations regulated by the EU ETS are collectively responsible in 2008 for close to half of the EU's anthropogenic emissions of CO2 and 40% of its total greenhouse gas emissions.〔Wagner, M.: Firms, the Framework Convention on Climate Change & the EU Emissions Trading System. Corporate Energy Management Strategies to Address Climate Change and GHG Emissions in the European Union. Lüneburg: Centre for Sustainability Management, 2004, p.12 (CSM Lüneburg )〕〔(Questions and Answers on the Commission's proposal to revise the EU Emissions Trading System ), MEMO/08/35, Brussels, 23 January 2008
〕 The taxation of electricity producers (power stations) for the emissions of CO2 has been controversial as globally, governments have refused to accept the additional burden while many have repealed such schemes such as Canada in 2011 and Australia in 2014.
Under the 'cap and trade' principle, a maximum (cap) is set on the total amount of greenhouse gases that can be emitted by all participating installations. 'Allowances' for emissions are then auctioned off or allocated for free, and can subsequently be traded. Installations must monitor and report their CO2 emissions, ensuring they hand in enough allowances to the authorities to cover their emissions. If emission exceeds what is permitted by its allowances, an installation must purchase allowances from others. Conversely, if an installation has performed well at reducing its emissions, it can sell its leftover credits. This allows the system to find the most cost-effective ways of reducing emissions without significant government intervention.
The scheme has been divided into a number of "trading periods". The first ETS trading period lasted three years, from January 2005 to December 2007. The second trading period ran from January 2008 until December 2012, coinciding with the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol. The third trading period began in January 2013 and will span until December 2020. Compared to 2005, when the EU ETS was first implemented, the proposed caps for 2020 represents a 21% reduction of greenhouse gases. This target has been reached 6 years early as emissions in the ETS fell to 1812 mln tonnes in 2014.〔http://www.environmentalistonline.com/article/2015-04-07/ets-emissions-decline-sharply〕
The EU ETS has seen a number of significant changes, with the first trading period described as a 'learning by doing' phase.〔http://ec.europa.eu/clima/policies/ets/faq_en.htm〕
Phase III sees a turn to auctioning a majority of permits rather than allocating freely; harmonisation of rules for the remaining allocations; and the inclusion of other greenhouse gases, such as nitrous oxide and perfluorocarbons.〔 In 2012, the EU ETS was also extended to the airline industry, though this has been paused for one year given the possibility of a global system for these emissions.〔(Europe Forcing Airlines to Buy Emissions Permits ), The New York Times, 24 October 2008〕〔(Limiting global climate change to 2 degrees Celsius – The way ahead for 2020 and beyond ), Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions, Brussels, 10 October 2007.〕〔http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-12-854_en.htm〕 The price of EU ETS carbon credits has been lower than intended, with a large surplus of allowances, in part because of the impact of the recent economic crisis on demand.〔http://ec.europa.eu/clima/policies/ets/index_en.htm〕 In 2012, the Commission said it would delay the auctioning of some allowances.〔 Currently legislation is under way which would introduce a Market Stability Reserve to the EU ETS that adjusts the annual supply of CO2 permits based on the CO2 permits in circulation 〔http://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/news-room/content/20150703IPR73913/html/Parliament-adopts-CO2-market-stability-reserve〕
== Mechanisms ==
The first phase of EU ETS was created to operate apart from international climate change treaties such as the pre-existing United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC, 1992) or the Kyoto Protocol that was subsequently (1997) established under it. When the Kyoto Protocol came into force on 16 February 2005, Phase I of the EU ETS had already become operational. The EU later agreed to incorporate Kyoto flexible mechanism certificates as compliance tools within the EU ETS. The "Linking Directive" allows operators to use a certain amount of Kyoto certificates from flexible mechanism projects in order to cover their emissions.
The Kyoto flexible mechanisms are:
* Joint Implementation projects (JI) defined by Article 6 of the Kyoto Protocol, which produce Emission Reduction Units (ERUs). One ERU represents the successful emissions reduction equivalent to one tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent (te).
* the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) defined by Article 12, which produces Certified Emission Reductions (CERs). One CER represents the successful emissions reduction equivalent to one tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent (te).
* International Emissions Trading (IET) defined by Article 17.
IET is relevant as the reductions achieved through CDM projects are a compliance tool for EU ETS operators. These Certified Emission Reductions (CERs) can be obtained by implementing emission reduction projects in developing countries, outside the EU, that have ratified (or acceded to) the Kyoto Protocol. The implementation of Clean Development Projects is largely specified by the Marrakech Accords, a follow-on set of agreements by the Conference of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol.
The legislators of the EU ETS drew up the scheme independently but called on the experiences gained during the running of the voluntary UK Emissions Trading Scheme in the previous years,〔(UK Emissions Trading Scheme ) DECC〕 and collaborated with other parties to ensure its units and mechanisms were compatible with the design agreed through the UNFCCC.
Under the EU ETS, the governments of the EU Member States agree on national emission caps which have to be approved by the EU commission. Those countries then allocate allowances to their industrial operators, and track and validate the actual emissions in accordance with the relevant assigned amount. They require the allowances to be retired after the end of each year.
The operators within the ETS may reassign or trade their allowances by several means:
* privately, moving allowances between operators within a company and across national borders
* over the counter, using a broker to privately match buyers and sellers
* trading on the spot market of one of Europe's climate exchanges.
Like any other financial instrument, trading consists of matching buyers and sellers between members of the exchange and then settling by depositing a valid allowance in exchange for the agreed financial consideration. Much like a stock market, companies and private individuals can trade through brokers who are listed on the exchange, and need not be regulated operators.
When each change of ownership of an allowance is proposed, the national registry and the European Commission are informed in order for them to validate the transaction. During Phase II of the EU ETS, the UNFCCC also validates the allowance and any change that alters the distribution within each national allocation plan.
Like the Kyoto trading scheme, EU ETS allows a regulated operator to use carbon credits in the form of Emission Reduction Units (ERU) to comply with its obligations. A Kyoto Certified Emission Reduction unit (CER), produced by a carbon project that has been certified by the UNFCCC's Clean Development Mechanism Executive Board, or Emission Reduction Unit (ERU) certified by the Joint Implementation project's host country or by the Joint Implementation Supervisory Committee, are accepted by the EU as equivalent.
Thus one EU Allowance Unit of one tonne of CO2, or "EUA", was designed to be identical ("fungible") with the equivalent "Assigned Amount Unit" (AAU) of CO2 defined under Kyoto. Hence, because of the EU's decision to accept Kyoto-CERs as equivalent to EU-EUA's, it is possible to trade EUA's and UNFCCC-validated CERs on a one-to-one basis within the same system. (However, the EU was not able to link trades from all its countries until 2008-9 because of its technical problems connecting to the UN systems.〔(ITL link, EU ETS review key for 2008 prices. Carbon Finance 9 January 2008 )〕)
During Phase II of the EU ETS, the operators within each Member State must surrender their allowances for inspection by the EU before they can be "retired" by the UNFCCC.
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