More and more countries are incorporating the instrument of emissions trading into their national climate policies. This emerging mosaic of emissions trading schemes (ETS) raises the question of whether they should be linked with each other. From an economic point of view, linking of domestic schemes is supposed to increase the economic efficiency of carbon markets. In addition, linking is also expected by some to yield substantial political benefits in terms of the evolution of the UNFCCC/Kyoto regime. However, these optimistic prospects are based on a best-case scenario where all major countries establish environmentally effective emissions trading systems and then link them with each other. Real-life politics might develop rather differently. This paper therefore examines to what extent the current status of emissions trading in industrialised countries provides a basis for reinforcing and moving forward the international climate regime through linking domestic ETS. After comparing emerging emissions trading schemes from an institutional perspective, it emerges that not only emissions trading is at a very early stage in most countries, in addition the emerging systems are probably going to be designed very differently from the EU ETS. While for some design features such as the coverage design differences do not matter, there are some areas where the plans in many non-EU countries look crucially different from the EU system. The outlook for a linked international ETS is therefore currently still very uncertain. Given this state of affairs, the EU should pro-actively engage with the non-EU countries to try to harmonise their developing national emissions trading schemes with the EU ETS, widely disseminate the lessons it has learned from the EU ETS, strongly make the case for environmental integrity and at the same time make clear that systems that want to link to the EU ETS will need to meet certain quality criteria. ©2009 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.
Energy, Environment Protection, Nuclear Power Engineering