Greenhouse gas emissions from European Union firms taking part in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) fell 3.06 percent from 2007 to 2008, the European Commission has reported.
Stavros Dimas, EU Environment Commissioner, said last Friday the results confirm "that the EU has a well functioning trading system, with a robust cap, a clear price signal and a liquid market, which is helping us to cut emissions cost effectively." In a not so subtle comment aimed at the U.S. and other large emitters, Mr. Dimas added, "This should encourage other countries in their efforts to set up comparable domestic cap-and-trade systems, which we would like to see linked up with the EU ETS to create a stronger international carbon market."
The ETS, the world's first greenhouse gas cap-and-trade system, began operation in January 2005. It is now in its "second phase," which runs from 2008 to 2012. In this phase, GHGs are to be reduced 6.5 percent. The "third phase" will begin in 2013 and run to 2020. In April, the EU formally adopted a legally binding target of reducing GHGs to 20 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 as well as increasing the share of renewable energy to 20 percent by 2020. More information on the third phase of the ETS is available by clicking here.
The degree to which the economic slowdown played a part in the reduction was downplayed by Mr. Dimas' spokesperson who said, "Companies for different reasons have undertaken emissions reductions, but what we can safely assume is that the ETS has been the major force [behind] some of the major reductions" ("Emissions From EU Facilities Participating in Trading Scheme Drop 3 Percent in 2008," BNA International Environment Daily, May 18, 2009).