This is extremely heartening:

Europe is moving toward making significant changes to its emissions-trading system that could force large polluters to pay for most, if not all, permits to produce climate-changing gases, European officials said Monday.

Although the European carbon-trading arrangement is considered to be among the world’s most functional, the countries that administer it acknowledged in a meeting during the weekend in Essen, Germany, that the system had flaws, including a government credit allocation plan that allows companies to profit by lobbying for additional pollution permits.

According to a statement, the governments of the European Union plan to ask the European Commission to propose modifying the current framework, known as cap and trade, by including auction and benchmarking components that would reduce corporate influence over pollution permits after 2012, when a crucial period of the present system expires.

“Though it has been a success, we have undergone a steep learning curve, and we have seen some windfall profits being made by power companies,” said Barbara Helfferich, a spokeswoman for the European environment commissioner, Stavros Dimas.

“We are considering auctioning up to 100 percent of credits,” she said, and would seek to determine whether there should be a mandatory level of auctioning. The commission is to complete its review this year.

The post-2012 changes might give the European Commission greater power to impose overall caps on national governments. At present it must approve the allocations that each member country makes for its biggest polluters.

Meanwhile, the U.S. plans to have 18 months of meetings to form some “aspirational goals.”