- Joint Program Report
An international emissions trading system is a featured instrument in the Kyoto Protocol to the Framework Convention on Climate Change, designed to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases among major industrial countries. The US was the leading proponent of emissions trading in the negotiations leading up to the Protocol, with the European Union initially reluctant to embrace the idea. However the US withdrawal from the Protocol has greatly changed the nature of the agreement. One result is that the EU has moved rapidly ahead, establishing in 2003 the Emission Trading Scheme (ETS) for the period of 2005-2007. This Scheme was intended as a test designed to help its member states transition to a system that would lead to compliance with their Kyoto Protocol commitments, which cover the period 2008-2012. The ETS covers CO2 emissions from big industrial entities in the electricity, heat, and energy-intensive sectors. It is a system that itself is evolving as allocations, rules, and registries were still being finalized in some member states late into 2005, even though the system started in January of that year. We analyze the ETS using the MIT Emissions Prediction and Policy Analysis (EPPA) model. We find that a competitive carbon market clears at a carbon price of about 0.6 to 0.9 €/tCO2 (~2 to 3 €/tC) for the 2005-2007 period in a base run of our model in line with many observers' expectations who saw the cuts required under the system as very mild, but in sharp contrast to the actual history of trading prices, which have settled in the range of 20 to 25 €/tCO2 (~70 to 90 €/tC) by the middle of 2005. In various comparison exercises the EPPA model's estimates of carbon prices have been similar to that of other models, and so the contrast between projection and reality in the ETS raises questions regarding the potential real cost of emissions reductions vis-á-vis expectations previously formed based on results from the modeling community. While it is beyond the scope of this paper to reach firm conclusions on reasons for this difference, what happens over the next few years will have important implications for greenhouse gas emissions trading and so further analysis of the emerging European trading system will be crucial.