May 6 News: The EU’s Carbon Trading System Not Dead Yet

The Washington Post, among others, have seen the recent failed attempt to shore up the European Union’s carbon trading system as a sign of its demise.

[Washington Post]

That system, however, is in deep trouble. … On April 16, the European Parliament was on the verge of temporarily tightening the supply of allowances to boost the price of carbon and shore up the ailing market. But opposition by countries led by Poland — a nation strongly dependent on heavy-emitting coal power plants — defeated the measure. The rejection sent the price of carbon plummeting to a historic low of roughly $3.60.

In case you missed it, after the vote David Roberts provided some much-needed context on the program. [Grist]

First off, the ETS is not a mess/broken/dying, it’s working like it’s supposed to. The goal of a cap-and-trade system is not to create a high price on carbon, or a low price on carbon, or any particular price on carbon. It is to reduce carbon emissions along a pathway specified by a series of targets (17 percent by 2020, etc.). The EU is on that pathway. Emissions are expected to come in under the cap, which means the cap-and-trade program is working. …

Now, it is true that the current price on carbon in the EU is not high enough to drive the kind of long-term investments that will be needed to lower emissions substantially by 2030 or 2050. There are legitimate timing issues here: If those investments aren’t begun now, then later, when carbon targets tighten and carbon prices rise, there’s going to be a crunch.

One way to address this problem would be to switch from a cap-and-trade system to a carbon tax, which allegedly offers price certainty. …

The other way to solve the problem — the obvious way, the correct way, which no one is talking about for reasons unclear to me — is to lower the carbon caps. If it’s “too cheap” to hit current targets, then current targets are insufficiently ambitious. If EU members want a higher carbon price to drive more clean-energy investment, they should reduce emissions more. That, not the failure to pass some unholy kludge, is what people ought to be yelling at the European Parliament about. …

I think everyone should take a deep breath. There are certainly positive ways to reform the ETS: reduce the allocation of free permits and the use of offsets, tighten the rules on those offsets, and perhaps put in a carbon-price floor. But the goal should not be to tweak short-term carbon prices. Remember, the point of a carbon-trading system is not the prices, it’s the targets.

The Canadian government objects to a European plan to designate dirty tar sands oil from Alberta as, well, dirty. [Reuters]

A new report from NASA says climate change may bring extreme rainfall to the rainy tropics and drought to more temperate areas. [LA Times]

Another new study found that Hawai’i could expect to experience more extreme tropical cyclones as the Pacific warms. [Discovery News]

Expect legislative action on a few bills that would ease hydropower approvals and promote energy efficiency. [National Journal]

The Nevada state house is holding a hearing today on legislation that would remove loopholes from the state’s clean energy standard. [Las Vegas Sun]

Al Gore said he generally admires Canada’s approach to policy, however: “The outlier in recent years, of course, has been the climate issue and particularly as addressed by the present government.” [Globe and Mail]

Mr. Gore also hopes that Rupert Murdoch will see the reality of climate change: “There is still hope that he will awaken to the reality of this … It would make a huge difference if he would.” [The Hill]

Germany’s first offshore wind farm, the massive Alpha Ventus, has been feeding 15 percent more energy into the grid than expected. [CleanTechnica]

On Friday, the largest solar plant in California had a ribbon cutting ceremony, though it has been producing at maximum capacity for several hours a day since February. [EarthTechling]

Sharp broke another solar efficiency record, with a 37.9 percent triple-junction, non-concentrator solar cell. [Solar Love]

How thin can a solar panel get? Try an atom’s width. [CleanTechnica]

13 Responses to May 6 News: The EU’s Carbon Trading System Not Dead Yet

  1. Joan Savage says:

    On Earth Day, legislation for solar in New York passed the state senate unanimously. From their press release:

    Cosponsored by Senator George Maziarz (R-C, Newfane) and Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D- Setauket), the bill is expected to deliver the following benefits:

    Build 2,200 megawatts (MW) of solar, enough clean, reliable electricity to power 400,000 New York homes.
    Create thousands of new local jobs in New York.
    Save New Yorkers billions by reducing the need to fire up our dirtiest and most expensive fossil power plants.
    Spur millions of dollars of investment in the state’s growing clean energy economy.

  2. An additional roundup of energy and climate news for 5/6 is posted at

  3. fj says:

    It seems we have to scale up to six trillion dollars US (equivalent) per year by 2020, starting now, to act on climate change at scale.

    A diversity of many aggressive initiatives financial and otherwise will be required.

  4. Joan Savage says:

    BBC World News: Arctic Ocean ‘acidifying rapidly’

    The Arctic seas are being made rapidly more acidic by carbon-dioxide emissions, according to a new report.

    Scientists from the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP) monitored widespread changes in ocean chemistry in the region.

    They say even if CO2 emissions stopped now, it would take tens of thousands of years for Arctic Ocean chemistry to revert to pre-industrial levels.

    (full article at link)

  5. prokaryotes says:


    A network of ultra-conservative groups is ramping up an offensive on multiple fronts to turn the American public against wind farms and Barack Obama‘s energy agenda. Among the action items included in the memo:

    Cause subversion in message of industry so that it effectively becomes so bad no one wants to admit in public they are for it (much like wind has done to coal, by turning green to black and clean to dirty)

    Setup a dummy business that will go into communities considering wind development, proposing to build 400 foot billboards.

    The message is also repeated in Wash Times, WSJ, Fox and other sources.

    Public opinion must begin to change in what should appear as a “groundswell” among grass roots.

  6. prokaryotes says:

    Professor joins fight to save Arctic

    Amid fears the top of the planet could be free of summer ice within two years, the meeting has been organised by a US brains trust on the Arctic that includes NASA’s chief scientist, the director of the US National Science Foundation, representatives from the US Department of Homeland Security and the Pentagon.

  7. prokaryotes says:

    Rain drenches region, 16 dead in Saudi Arabia

    Rains swept the region, including Fujairah and Delma Island in the UAE on Wednesday causing deaths and widespread damage. Saudi Arabia reported 16 deaths and three people missing in flash floods, while two others perished in Oman.

  8. prokaryotes says:

    Television footage showed 4X4 vehicles stuck in the middle of wadis and people clinging to a tree to escape fast-flowing flood waters.

    The vast Arabian Peninsula country has not experienced such a high volume of rainfall for 25 years.

    But around 10 people were killed in 2011 when flooding swept through the western city of Jeddah, where 123 people also perished in floods in 2009.

    The inability of Jeddah’s infrastructure to drain off flood waters and uncontrolled construction in and around the city were blamed at the time for the high number of victims.

  9. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    I saw a Japanese scientist on NHK, in December, commenting on his research last northern summer in the Arctic seas (eastern Siberia I think). He was studying the ability of microscopic arthropods to lay down their calcium shells, and he simply stated that the acidity had so far progressed and was wreaking such havoc with these creatures, near the foot of so many food-chains, that we had passed a ‘point of no return’. Not such a big story, surely, compared to the latest episode of Celebratory Do-It-Yourself Brain Surgery or the Kardashian Kapers.

  10. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    The Rightwing never will give up. Our, supposedly ‘Leftwing’ ABC (if you listen to it, there is no discernible difference in opinion from the Murdoch apparat, but the Right love identifying even imaginary daemons to hate)had a piece on its usually excellent Ockhams Razor this week, about the carnage of birds caused by the evil ‘windmills’. Tell a lie over and over until it is accepted as truth, one of the S.O.Ps of our Thought Controllers.