For the first years of the European Union’s cap-and-trade program (the EU ETS, for acronym lovers), permits were given away to polluters for free. Not only were they given away, but they were wildly overallocated based on inflated baseline numbers, meaning that the early years of the program produced far less in the way of emission reductions than everyone hoped.

Now the U.K. has started auctioning some permits … and they’re in another mess. You see, the government has said it’s just going to hang onto the proceeds, thank you very much, not necessarily put them toward clean energy or other forms of carbon reduction.

Grist relies on the support of generous readers like you. Donate today to keep our climate news free. All donations matched!

Sure is nice of those continental types to work out all the kinks for us!

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.