IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Allocation and competitiveness in the EU emissions trading scheme: policy overview


  • Michael Grubb
  • Karsten Neuhoff


The European emissions trading scheme (EU ETS) has an efficient and effective market design that risks being undermined by three interrelated problems: the approach to allocation; the absence of a credible commitment to post-2012 continuation; and concerns about its impact on the international competitiveness of key sectors. This special issue of Climate Policy explores these three factors in depth. This policy overview summarizes key insights from the individual studies in this issue, and draws overall policy conclusions about the next round of allocations and the design of the system for the longer term. • Allocations for 2008-2012. Allocations defined relative to projected 'business-as-usual' emissions should involve cutbacks for all sectors, in part to hedge against an unavoidable element of projection inflation. Additional cutbacks for the power sector could help to address distributional and legal (State aid) concerns. Benchmarking allocations, e.g. on best practice technologies, could offer important advantages: experience in different sectors and countries is needed, given their existing diversity. However, a common standard for new entrant reserves should be agreed across the EU, based on capacity or output, not on technology or fuel. Maximum use of allowed auctioning (10%) would improve efficiency, provide reassurance, and potentially help to stabilize the system through minimum-price auctions. These measures will not preclude most participating sectors from profiting from the EU ETS during phase II. Companies can choose to scale back these potential profits to protect market share against imports and/or use the revenues to support longer term decarbonization investments, whilst auction revenues can be used creatively to support broader investments towards a lowcarbon industrial sector in Europe. • Post-2012 design. Effective operation during phase II requires a concrete commitment to continue the EU ETS beyond 2012 with future design addressing concerns about distribution, potential perverse incentives, and industrial competitiveness. Declining free allocation combined with greater auctioning offers the simplest solution to distributional and incentive problems. For its unilateral implementation to be sustainable under higher carbon prices over longer periods, EU ETS post-2012 design must accommodate one of three main approaches for the most energy-intensive internationally traded sectors: international (sectoral) agreements, border-tax adjustments, or output-based (intensity) allocation. If significant free allocations continue, governments may also need to follow the example of monetary policy in establishing independent allocation authorities with some degree of EU coordination. Such reform for the post-2012 period would require the Directive to be fundamentally renegotiated in relation to allocation procedures. Such renegotiation is neither feasible nor necessary for phase II operation. Rather, phase II should be a period in which diverse national approaches build experience, whilst the profits potentially accruing to participating sectors can be used to protect market share and jump-start their investments for a globally carbonconstrained future.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael Grubb & Karsten Neuhoff, 2006. "Allocation and competitiveness in the EU emissions trading scheme: policy overview," Climate Policy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 6(1), pages 7-30, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:tcpoxx:v:6:y:2006:i:1:p:7-30
    DOI: 10.1080/14693062.2006.9685586

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    File URL:
    LibKey link: if access is restricted and if your library uses this service, LibKey will redirect you to where you can use your library subscription to access this item

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version below or search for a different version of it.

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Kati Kulovesi & Katja Kein�nen, 2006. "Long-term climate policy: international legal aspects of sector-based approaches," Climate Policy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 6(3), pages 313-325, May.
    2. Pablo del R�o Gonz�lez, 2006. "Harmonization versus decentralization in the EU ETS: an economic analysis," Climate Policy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 6(4), pages 457-475, July.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Stephen Lecourt & Clément Pallière & Oliver Sartor, 2013. "The impact of emissions-performance benchmarking on free allocations in EU ETS Phase 3," RSCAS Working Papers 2013/17, European University Institute.
    2. Stephen Lecourt & Clement Palliere & Oliver Sartor, 2013. "Free allocations in EU ETS Phase 3: The impact of emissions-performance benchmarking for carbonintensive industry," Working Papers 1302, Chaire Economie du climat.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D62 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Externalities
    • Q58 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environmental Economics: Government Policy
    • F21 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Investment; Long-Term Capital Movements
    • F18 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade and Environment


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:taf:tcpoxx:v:6:y:2006:i:1:p:7-30. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Chris Longhurst (email available below). General contact details of provider: .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.