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What ails the European Union׳s emissions trading system?


  • Salant, Stephen W.


The European Union has adopted economists׳ idea of curbing carbon emissions by establishing markets where bankable emissions allowances can be traded. Implicit in proofs that cap-and-trade minimizes the expected discounted cost of capping emissions, however, is that the regulator not intervene once the market is established. Otherwise market participants encounter uncertainties beyond what a social planner faces. This paper discusses the equilibrium that results when private agents bank tradable allowances in the face of ongoing risk of future regulatory intervention and shows that the cap will be achieved at unnecessarily high cost even if no regulatory intervention actually occurs. Evidence that such risks are currently distorting EU ETS comes from the depressed current spot price, from the findings of Schopp and Neuhoff (2014) that speculators require multiples of the riskless rate of interest to bank permits, and from the sensitivity of prices to votes and announcements about proposed future regulatory changes.

Suggested Citation

  • Salant, Stephen W., 2016. "What ails the European Union׳s emissions trading system?," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 80(C), pages 6-19.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeeman:v:80:y:2016:i:c:p:6-19
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jeem.2016.06.001

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    Cited by:

    1. aus dem Moore, Nils & Großkurth, Philipp & Themann, Michael, 2019. "Multinational corporations and the EU Emissions Trading System: The specter of asset erosion and creeping deindustrialization," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 94(C), pages 1-26.
    2. Doda, Baran & Quemin, Simon & Taschini, Luca, 2019. "Linking permit markets multilaterally," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 98(C).
    3. Simon Quemin, 2016. "Intertemporal abatement decisions under ambiguity aversion in a cap and trade," Working Papers 1604, Chaire Economie du climat.
    4. Perino, Grischa & Willner, Maximilian, 2016. "Procrastinating reform: The impact of the market stability reserve on the EU ETS," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 80(C), pages 37-52.
    5. Bocklet, Johanna & Hintermayer, Martin, 2020. "How does the EU ETS reform impact allowance prices? The role of myopia, hedging requirements and the Hotelling rule," EWI Working Papers 2020-1, Energiewirtschaftliches Institut an der Universitaet zu Koeln (EWI).
    6. Jiang, Minxing & Zhu, Bangzhu & Wei, Yi-Ming & Chevallier, Julien & He, Kaijian, 2018. "An intertemporal carbon emissions trading system with cap adjustment and path control," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 122(C), pages 152-161.
    7. Alex Schmitt, 2017. "Kurz zum Klima: Der EU-Emissionshandel – bekannte Probleme, neue Lösungen?," ifo Schnelldienst, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 70(09), pages 48-50, May.
    8. Casini, Paolo & Valentini, Edilio, 2019. "Emissions Markets with Price Stabilizing Mechanisms: Possible Unpleasant Outcomes," ES: Economics for Sustainability 291801, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei (FEEM) > ES: Economics for Sustainability.
    9. Simon Quemin & Raphael Trotignon, 2019. "Emissions trading with rolling horizons," Working Papers 1901, Chaire Economie du climat.
    10. Xu, Jia & Tan, Xiujie & He, Gang & Liu, Yu, 2019. "Disentangling the drivers of carbon prices in China's ETS pilots — An EEMD approach," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 139(C), pages 1-9.
    11. Liu, Zhiqing & Geng, Yong & Dai, Hancheng & Wilson, Jeffrey & Xie, Yang & Wu, Rui & You, Wei & Yu, Zhongjue, 2018. "Regional impacts of launching national carbon emissions trading market: A case study of Shanghai," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 230(C), pages 232-240.
    12. Kollenberg, Sascha & Taschini, Luca, 2019. "Dynamic supply adjustment and banking under uncertainty in an emission trading scheme: The market stability reserve," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 118(C), pages 213-226.
    13. Fei Ye & Lixu Li & Zhiqiang Wang & Yina Li, 2018. "An Asymmetric Nash Bargaining Model for Carbon Emission Quota Allocation among Industries: Evidence from Guangdong Province, China," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 10(11), pages 1-18, November.
    14. Simon Quemin & Raphael Trotignon, 2018. "Competitive Permit Storage and Market Design: An Application to the EU-ETS," Working Papers 2018.19, FAERE - French Association of Environmental and Resource Economists.
    15. Siegmeier, Jan & Mattauch, Linus & Edenhofer, Ottmar, 2018. "Capital beats coal: How collecting the climate rent increases aggregate investment," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 88(C), pages 366-378.
    16. Reyer Gerlagh & Roweno J. R. K. Heijmans & Knut Einar Rosendahl, 2020. "COVID-19 Tests the Market Stability Reserve," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 76(4), pages 855-865, August.
    17. Chaton, Corinne & Creti, Anna & Sanin, María-Eugenia, 2018. "Assessing the implementation of the Market Stability Reserve," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 118(C), pages 642-654.
    18. Edenhofer, Ottmar & Flachsland, Christian & Kalkuhl, Matthias & Knopf, Brigitte & Pahle, Michael, 2019. "Optionen für eine CO2-Preisreform," Working Papers 04/2019, German Council of Economic Experts / Sachverständigenrat zur Begutachtung der gesamtwirtschaftlichen Entwicklung.
    19. van der Ploeg, Frederick & Rezai, Armon, 2020. "The risk of policy tipping and stranded carbon assets," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 100(C).
    20. Friedrich, Marina & Mauer, Eva-Maria & Pahle, Michael & Tietjen, Oliver, 2020. "From fundamentals to financial assets: the evolution of understanding price formation in the EU ETS," EconStor Preprints 196150, ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics.
    21. Corinne Chaton & Anna Creti & Maria-Eugenia Sanin, 2017. "Assessing the implementation of the Market Stability Reserve," Working Papers 1708, Chaire Economie du climat.
    22. Grischa Perino & Maximilian Willner, 2019. "Rushing the Impatient: Allowance Reserves and the Time Profile of Low-Carbon Investments," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 74(2), pages 845-863, October.
    23. Burtraw, Dallas & McCormack, Kristen, 2017. "Consignment auctions of free emissions allowances," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 107(C), pages 337-344.


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