It’s not really come as any great surprise but the European Commission’s official press release on Friday confirmed that industrial emissions in the EU rose by 0.7% between 2006 and 07.
This is depressing news if only because it illustrates the massive gulf between political rhetoric on climate change and the actual level of ambition in policy. As the leading proponent of action to prevent the world from warming by more than two degrees, you would have hoped that the EU would by now have worked out how to get at least its industrial emissions onto a downward trajectory – after all this is where the easiest savings can be made – and we are told there is only a matter of decades to get global emissions on to the same trajectory and we’re meant to be leading the way. But unfortunately the first three years of the EU’s emissions trading scheme have been spend treading water.
The figures released show clearly why the scheme failed and prices for permits crashed – some 100 million too many allowances a year were created by Member States in a total market of around 2 billion. The Commission’s release remains positive pointing towards higher GDP increases compared to the emissions increase and tougher caps in this phase of trading but frankly it would have been more honest to have openly admitted that the first phase was a disaster and though some things have improved there are still too many permits out there.
My overall feeling is we messed up in the EU by starting with our industrial sectors – they were always going to be a nightmare, lobbying for more permits and a weak scheme because of competitiveness concerns. Domestic heating and transport would have been a far more sensible place to start. But this is still not on the agenda – the current review of the EU scheme doesn’t mention heating emissions and transport is still in the ‘too difficult’ pile. Hopefully other countries when designing their schemes will take note and make a better job of it.