Carbon Market – The EU Goes It Alone?
Yesterday at the FH/Barclays Capital Conference on Financing Energy Needs, a lot was said about financing mechanisms for energy investments and climate mitigation measures.
As argued by Philip Lowe and Jos Delbeke, the lion’s share of funds will have to come from private sources, because of Member States’ reluctance to dedicate national funds in these times of economic crisis. Another source of revenue will eventually come from carbon markets, but with current low carbon prices, this is a long-term perspective rather than an immediate solution. A high carbon price is deemed necessary for expensive technologies such as CCS (Carbon Capture and Storage). Participants generally argued in favour of a global carbon market, which would yield more benefits and generate more revenues (estimated at $2 trillion by 2020 if the U.S. gets on board).
Jos Delbeke underlined the Commission’s willingness to link up cap-and-trade systems by 2015 at a global level. Today this perspective seems unrealistic, given that other big emitting countries are still far away from adopting a model comparable to the EU ETS.
It is still unsure whether the US will enter the race. As described in The Economist last week, the cap-and-trade provision in the US Senate Climate Bill will not be a centrepiece of the legislation, as it should only apply to electrical utilities and leave out transport and industrial emissions – at least for now. Reasons for this are threefold: industry reluctance, skepticism for market mechanisms as a result of the financial crisis and fear for the US competitiveness when China does not intend to put a cap on its emissions for the time being.
In Japan, the Cabinet approved a Climate bill early March, but its provisions on a cap-and-trade system have been watered down. The text will now be examined in Parliament and industries covered are still to be defined, but for the same reason as in America, the end result may differ greatly from the EU ETS.
In sum, there are still several hurdles to a global carbon market…
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