Oversupply of pollution certificates leads to declining EU ETS revenues in 2016

  • How many EU emissions allowances were auctioned in 2016, and what were they worth?

  • How much of the money raised from ETS auctions was spent on  climate change projects?

  • How much of the money is used domestically or for projects abroad?

  • How does your government spend its ETS revenues - on research, sustainable transport, energy efficiency or something else?

You’ll find all of these answers by using the MaxiMiseR ETS revenue tool.

The 2016 figures from the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) are yet more proof that the system is rewarding polluters at the expense of the climate. They show that far more emissions allowances were auctioned on the ETS in 2016 than in 2015 - 700 million compared to 630 million. Because there were so many surplus allowances, the price went down, meaning overall revenues dropped by more than 20%. The proportion  of the auctioning revenues spent on climate action remained the same at 85%, therefore the amount spent on climate decreased by more than EUR 900 million from 2015 to 2016.

A new report published by CAN Europe shows that emissions allowances to the tune of EUR 143 billion were given away for free by the EU in the period between 2008-2015. This amount is predicted to rise further to an estimated EUR 380 billion by the year 2030. Auctioning of these emission allowances instead of handing them out for free would help cut emissions and ensure the EU’s “polluter pays” principle is respected.

The MaxiMiseR EU ETS revenue tool was developed with the Ecologic Institute to help show how ETS revenues could be used to finance climate action and long-term climate planning. With the latest data update, you can now compare more than 30 variables over a period of four years (2013-2016).   

Key 2016 figures:

  • Over 95% of auctioning revenues spent on climate action are used for domestic projects

  • 30% of domestic spending goes towards renewable energy projects in 14 countries

  • Using ETS auctioning revenues to provide international climate finance receives relatively little attention, with only EUR 134 million dedicated to support developing countries

Figure 1: Revenues used for domestic action - renewable energy 2016

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If you are curious as to how revenues relating to renewable energy have developed over the years, just change the format on how your data is displayed and you can choose up to five countries to compare over the four years as shown in figure two. For instance, you’ll see that the UK was leading investments in this field in 2015, but was overtaken by Spain in 2016. The MaxiMiseR EU ETS revenue tool is the most comprehensive and detailed way to have easy access to EU ETS Member States’ revenues and spending habits.

Figure 2: Revenues used for domestic action - renewable energy 2013 - 2016

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To know more about MaxiMiseR’s work on EU ETS reform, including recommendations to increase the size and improve the use of auctioning revenues for the climate check out , “Smart Cash for the Climate: Maximising ETS revenues from the EU Emissions Trading System” which was published by the Ecologic Institute and MaxiMiseR in 2016.