Emissions drop 2% because of Europe’s trading scheme

Greenhouse gases from power plants and manufacturers in Europe’s emissions trading scheme (EU ETS) dropped 2% last year. That’s according to figures for 2011 provided by the EU’s member states, […]

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By Vicky Ellis

Greenhouse gases from power plants and manufacturers in Europe’s emissions trading scheme (EU ETS) dropped 2% last year.

That’s according to figures for 2011 provided by the EU’s member states, which seem to endorse the success of the EU ETS.

The scheme, which is designed to put market pressure on firms to cut their emissions, has received criticism in some quarters for supposedly putting European businesses at a disadvantage to the rest of the world.

The EU ETS covers more than 12,000 power plants and manufacturing installations in the 27 EU member states as well as Norway and Liechtenstein.

The EU Commission says a high number of companies fell in line with the EU ETS rules, with less than 1% failing to surrender allowances covering all their 2011 emissions by the deadline of 30 April 2012.

The EU’s climate chief said this showed the scheme was doing well despite the continent’s financial troubles.

Connie Hedegaard, the EU’s Climate Action Commissioner said: “ETS emissions decreased by more than 2% in 2011 despite an expanding economy recovery. This good result shows that the ETS is delivering cost-effective emissions reductions. It also emphasises why the ETS remains the engine to drive low-carbon growth in Europe.”

The EU is concerned too many emission allowances could hinder the scheme’s effectiveness.

Ms Hedegaard added: “There is still a growing buffer of unused allowances. This is why the Commission, as announced last month, is now reviewing the time profile of phase 3 auctions with a view to reducing the number of allowances for auction in the early years of phase 3.”