From 2005 through 2007, emissions from within facilities covered by the Kyoto Emissions Trading Scheme have risen by around 1.8 percent. (If we adjust for facilities entering and leaving the system, which I’m not sure we should, that total would be more like 1.6 percent.)
This rise in emissions happened in spite of the fact the E.U. emissions as whole have fallen. This is not a secret, exactly, but when people talk about instituting cap-and-trade in the U.S. it is worth remembering this is not a case of taking something that worked, just not as well as we like, and making it better. Phase I of European cap-and-trade was a failure.
But weren’t additional emissions compensated via cuts elsewhere, like Asia, Africa, and Latin America? Didn’t the Clean Development Mechanism take care of it? As an answer to that, let’s look at a little snippet from Al Gore’s testimony to the U.S. Senate on January 28, 2009:
Corker: As of November 1 2008, International Rivers has calculated that most of these offsets that are called Clean Development Mechanisms that I think hugely distort the market. Hugely distort the market. Most of the projects, three-quarters of them were already under construction and were going to happen anyway. So the whole issue of additionality is a pretty big deal …”
Gore: “Thank you. Another thoughtful question. I think there is general agreement that in Copenhagen significant reforms of the CDM, uh Collective Development Mechanism, ah Cooperative Development Mechanism, have to be implemented … I agree with ya.”
Collateral Damage Mechanism aside, I hope cap-and-trade supporters will agree any system they support needs to actually lower emissions. That means something more than a tweaked version of the ETS.