Climate change is a global challenge and requires a global solution. Through analysis and dialogue, the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions is working with governments and stakeholders to identify practical and effective options for the post-2012 international climate framework. Read more


WEF CEO Climate Policy Recommendations to G8 Leaders

Promoted in Energy Efficiency section: 

On Friday, June 20, a group of CEOs from sixteen World Economic Forum Industry Partner companies submitted climate policy recommendations to Yasuo Fukuda, Prime Minister of Japan and current G8 President.

The process was coordinated by the World Economic Forum in collaboration with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. The Pew Center on Global Climate Change served as a resource partner.

Read the CEO Climate Policy Recommendations to G8 Leaders

The WEF Industry Partner Steering Board consists of the following companies:

  • Alcoa (USA)
  • AIG (USA)
  • Applied Materials (USA)
  • Basic Element (Russian Federation)
  • British Airways (UK)
  • Deutsche Bank (Germany)
  • Duke Energy (USA)
  • Electricité de France (EdF) (France)
  • Eskom (South Africa)
  • Petrobras (Brazil)
  • RusHydro (Russian Federation)
  • Royal Dutch Shell (Netherlands)
  • Telstra (Australia)
  • Tokyo Electric Power (Japan)
  • TNT (Netherlands)
  • Vattenfall (Sweden)

Technology Funding in a Post-2012 Climate Framework - Background Note

**This background note was released on June 11, 2008 at the UNFCCC Bonn Climate Change Talks**

In the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, developed countries commit generally to provide financial resources, including for the transfer of technology, needed by developing countries to fulfill their obligations under the Convention. 

In order to successfully support the adoption of climate-friendly technologies in developing countries, multiple sources of investment – including public and private finance, carbon finance, and multilateral funding – are needed. 

This note outlines key design issues and options in considering new means of multilateral funding for climate-friendly technology in a post-2012 climate change agreement.

Download the full paper (pdf) 


Modeling Post-2012 Climate Policy Scenarios

Promoted in Energy Efficiency section: 

The Center, in collaboration with the Battelle Memorial Institute, is modeling a range of post-2012 global climate policy scenarios. Interim results from this innovative modeling exercise were presented at a side event at the UN climate change talks in Bonn, Germany, in June 2008.

The aim of this initiative is to visualize and to assess alternative post-2012 architectures incorporating different types of climate commitments, including absolute economy-wide emission targets, policy-based commitments, and sectoral agreements. The scenarios are not intended as “proposals” for a future framework. Rather, they are meant to illustrate a range of possible approaches in order to better understand their relative merits.

The modeling is the latest in a series of analyses building on the core finding of our Climate Dialogue at Pocantico: engaging all the major economies in an effective post-2012 climate effort requires a flexible framework allowing countries to take on different types of commitments. The six policy scenarios modeled represent different combinations of:

  • Economy-wide emissions targets (absolute, intensity-based, and “no lose”);
  • Policy-based commitments (national policy packages including measures such as efficiency standards or sectoral intensity targets);
  • Sectoral agreements (uniform or differentiated standards applied to a given sector in all countries); and
  • Funding commitments to support adaptation and technology deployment in developing countries.

The specific configurations of the six scenarios are described in the presentation.

The analysis compares the projected emissions, economic, and technology impacts of the six scenarios to a “business-as-usual” reference scenario, and to idealized “economically efficient” emission pathways for achieving CO2 concentrations of 450, 550, and 650 ppmv. (There is no prescribed environmental outcome in the six policy scenarios; the aim was for all to achieve outcomes in the range of 450-600 ppmv.)

Preliminary insights from the analysis include the following:

  • Environmental Effectiveness – A range of policy mixes can deliver near- and medium-term emission reductions consistent with achieving a reasonable long-term environment outcome – provided they are stringent enough. The particular policy sets prescribed in these scenarios result in CO2 concentrations in 2100 in the range of 550 ppm. However, if the policies described were to be made more stringent, any of these architectural frameworks could produce stronger environmental outcomes.
  • Equity – A range of policy mixes can produce a reasonable distribution of costs. In scenarios with full global emissions trading, mitigation costs are redistributed through trading, and targets can be differentiated to achieve a desired distribution of costs. However, a reasonable distribution of costs also can be achieved in scenarios in which only some regions have economy-wide targets and others participate through other types of commitments.
  • Economic Efficiency – Over the long term, emission reduction efforts will be more economically efficient if a regime transitions to full coverage of emissions and to full global emissions trading. In the nearer term, scenarios employing policies other than economy-wide targets diverge from the idealized “efficient” emissions pathway to a greater or lesser degree, depending on the specific policies assumed. One question that emerges is whether allowing a range of commitment types at this stage – and, in so doing, sacrificing some economic efficiency – is a reasonable tradeoff to deliver the effort, equity, and broad participation needed to put economies on track toward meeting the long-term objective of preventing dangerous climate change.

Another round of modeling based on revised policy scenarios is planned, with a final report expected in late 2008.

Previous work building on the Climate Dialogue at Pocantico includes:

Adaptation to Climate Change: International Policy Options
Policy-Based Commitments in a Post-2012 Climate Framework

International Sectoral Agreements in a Post-2012 Climate Framework

Towards an Integrated Multi-track Climate Framework


In this Section:


The European Union's Emissions Trading System in Perspective

The European Union's Emissions Trading System in Perspective

Prepared for the Pew Center on Global Climate Change
May 2008

A. Denny Ellerman,
Paul L. Joskow

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Press Release

Watch report author Denny Ellerman on E&ETV

Download entire report (PDF)

Download overview presentation (PDF)



Eileen Claussen, President, Pew Center on Global Climate Change

To meet its obligations to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations under the Kyoto Protocol, the European Union (EU) established the first cap-and-trade system for carbon dioxide emissions in the world starting in 2005. Proposed in October 2001, the EU’s Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) was up and running just over three years later. The first three-year trading period (2005-2007)—a trial period before Kyoto’s obligations began—is now complete and, not surprisingly, has been heavily scrutinized. This report examines the development, structure, and performance of the EU-ETS to date, and provides insightful analysis regarding the controversies and lessons emerging from the initial trial phase.

Recognizing their lack of experience with cap and trade and the need to build knowledge and program architecture, EU leaders began by covering only one gas (carbon dioxide) and a limited number of sectors. Once the infrastructure was in place, other GHGs and sectors could be included in subsequent phases of the program, when more significant emissions reductions were needed. As authors Denny Ellerman and Paul Joskow describe, the system has so far worked as it was envisioned—a European-wide carbon price was established, businesses began incorporating this price into their decision-making, and the market infrastructure for a multi-national trading program is now in place. Moreover, despite the condensed time period of the trial phase, some reductions in emissions from the covered sectors were realized.

The development of the EU-ETS has not, however, proceeded without its challenges. The authors explain some of the controversies regarding the early performance of the EU-ETS and describe potential remedies planned for later compliance periods:

  • Due to a lack of accurate data in advance of the program, allowances to emitters were overallocated. Now with more accurate emissions data and a centralized cap-setting and reporting process, the emissions cap should be sufficiently binding;
  • Concerns about program volatility emerged when initially high allowances prices (driven largely by high global energy costs) dropped precipitously in April 2006 upon the release of more accurate, verified emissions data. Late in the trial phase, there was another sharp decline in allowance price because there were no provisions for banking emissions reductions for use in the second phase of the program. Improved data quality and provisions for unrestricted banking between compliance periods will help moderate price fluctuations in the future;
  • Windfall profits by electric power generators that passed along costs (based on market value) of their freely issued allowances resulted in improved understanding of how member country electricity sector regulations affect the market and calls for increased auctioning in subsequent phases of the program.

Interest in developing a national cap-and-trade program in the United States has intensified in recent years. The first comprehensive greenhouse gas reduction bill ever to be reported out of a committee emerged from the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in December 2007. As debate continues on this landmark legislation, the House of Representatives has signaled its intention to design its own emissions trading program. This report provides an excellent resource for those developing U.S. proposals. As Europe’s experience with the EU-ETS suggests, everything does not have to be perfect at the outset of a cap-and-trade program. We do, however, need to get started and, for this, the EU-ETS has provided valuable lessons for us all.

The Center and the authors would like to thank Robert Stavins and Peter Zapfel for comments and suggestions on earlier drafts. None of them are responsible for the analysis, conclusions or any remaining errors. The views expressed here are solely those of the authors.

Executive Summary

The performance of the European Union’s Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) to date cannot be evaluated without recognizing that the first three years from 2005 through 2007 constituted a “trial” period and understanding what this trial period was supposed to accomplish. Its primary goal was to develop the infrastructure and to provide the experience that would enable the successful use of a cap-and-trade system to limit European GHG emissions during a second trading period, 2008-12, corresponding to the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol. The trial period was a rehearsal for the later more serious engagement and it was never intended to achieve significant reductions in CO2 emissions in only three years. In light of the speed with which the program was developed, the many sovereign countries involved, the need to develop the necessary data, information dissemination, compliance and market institutions, and the lack of extensive experience with emissions trading in Europe, we think that the system has performed surprisingly well.

Although there have been plenty of rough edges, a transparent and widely accepted price for tradable CO2 emission allowances emerged by January 1, 2005, a functioning market for allowances has developed quickly and effortlessly without any prodding by the Commission or member state governments, the cap-and-trade infrastructure of market institutions, registries, monitoring, reporting and verification is in place, and a significant segment of European industry is incorporating the price of CO2 emissions into their daily production decisions.

The development of the EU ETS and the experience with the trial period provides a number of useful lessons for the U.S. and other countries.

  • Suppliers quickly factor the price of emissions allowances into their pricing and output behavior.
  • Liquid bilateral markets and public allowance exchanges emerge rapidly and the “law of one price” for allowances with the same attributes prevails.
  • The development of efficient allowance markets is facilitated by the frequent dissemination of information about emissions and allowance utilization.
  • Allowance price volatility can be dampened by including allowance banking and borrowing and by allocating allowances for longer trading periods.
  • The redistributive aspects of the allocation process can be handled without distorting abatement efficiency or competition despite the significant political maneuvering over allowance allocations. However, allocations that are tied to future emissions through investment and closure decisions can distort behavior. 
  • The interaction between allowance allocation, allowance markets, and the unsettled state of electricity sector liberalization and regulation must be confronted as part of program design to avoid mistakes and unintended consequences. This will be especially important in the U.S. where 50 percent of the electricity is generated with coal.

The EU ETS provides a useful perspective on the problems to be faced in constructing a global GHG emission trading system. In imagining a multinational system, it seems clear that participating nations will retain significant discretion in deciding tradable national emission caps albeit with some negotiation; separate national registries will be maintained with some arrangement for international transfers; and monitoring, reporting and verification procedures will be administered nationally although necessarily subject to some common standard. All of these issues have had to be addressed in the trial period and they continue to present challenges to European policy makers.

The deeper significance of the trial period of the EU ETS may be its explicit status as a work in progress. As such, it is emblematic of all climate change programs, which will surely be changed over the long horizon during which they will remain effective. The trial period demonstrates that everything does not need to be perfect at the beginning. In fact, it provides a reminder that the best can be the enemy of the good. This admonition is especially applicable in an imperfect world where the income and wealth effects of proposed actions are significant and sovereign nations of widely varying economic circumstance and institutional development are involved. The initial challenge is simply to establish a system that will demonstrate the societal decision that GHG emissions shall have a price and to provide the signal of what constitutes appropriate short-term and long-term measures to limit GHG emissions. In this, the EU has done more with the ETS, despite all its faults, than any other nation or set of nations.

About the Authors


Dr. A. Denny Ellerman

A leading energy economist, Dr. Ellerman is a Senior Lecturer with the Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he previously served as the Executive Director of the Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research and of the Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change. Dr. Ellerman is internationally recognized as an authority on emissions trading, and his current research interests focus on the U.S. and European emissions trading programs and on environmental regulations. He is co-author of the report, The European Union’s Emissions Trading System in Perspective, and he coauthored the well-respected text, Markets for Clean Air: The U.S. Acid Rain Program with MIT Sloan colleagues. Dr. Ellerman has also worked for Charles River Associates, the National Coal Association, the U.S. Department of Energy, and the U.S. Executive Office of the President, and he served as President of the International Association for Energy Economics in 1990.

Dr. Ellerman received his undergraduate education at Princeton University and his Ph.D. in Political Economy and Government from Harvard University. His current research interests focus on emissions trading, climate change policy, and the economics of fuel choice, especially concerning coal and natural gas.

Paul L. Joskow

Paul L. Joskow became President of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation on January 1, 2008. He is presently on leave from his position as Elizabeth and James Killian Professor of Economics and Management at MIT. He received a BA from Cornell University in 1968 and a PhD in Economics from Yale University in 1972. Professor Joskow has been on the MIT faculty since 1972 and served as Head of the MIT Department of Economics from 1994 to 1998. He was Director of the MIT Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research from 1999 through 2007. At MIT he has been engaged in teaching and research in the areas of industrial organization, energy and environmental economics, competition policy, and government regulation of industry for over 35 years. Dr. Joskow has published six books and over 125 articles and papers in these areas. He serves as a Director of Exelon Corporation, as a Director of TransCanada Corporation, and as a Trustee of the Putnam Mutual Funds. He is a member of the Board of Overseers of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Dr. Joskow is a Fellow of the Econometric Society and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a Distinguished Fellow of the Industrial Organization Society.

A. Denny Ellerman
Paul L. Joskow

Press Release - EU Emissions Trading System Delivers Valuable Lessons

Press Release
May 8, 2008
Contact: Tom Steinfeldt, (703) 516-4146

New Report Offers Insights to Policy-Makers on Cap and Trade

The Pew Center on Global Climate Change today releases a new report examining the European Union’s Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) that offers a realistic assessment of the system’s initial objectives and outcomes. The report, “The European Union’s Emissions Trading System in Perspective,” by A. Denny Ellerman and Paul L. Joskow of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, examines the development, structure, and performance of the system to date.

As the U.S. Congress moves closer to developing a national climate change policy, this report delivers key insights into the world’s first carbon dioxide cap-and-trade program. Through analysis of the controversies and lessons learned from the program’s initial three-year trial phase, the authors provide important information for U.S. policy-makers and other countries. Main findings of the report include:

  • Good information is critical. Accurate data on baseline emissions is needed to create an effective trading system that results in sufficient emissions reductions;
  • Suppliers quickly factor the price of emissions allowances into their business decisions under a cap-and-trade program;
  • Price volatility can be reduced by including banking and limited borrowing of emissions allowances;
  • The relationship between allowance allocation, allowance markets, and the unsettled state of electricity regulation must be understood and addressed to avoid unintended consequences; and
  • The linkage of 28 separate trading programs in the EU ETS provides a valuable prototype for a globally linked carbon market.

“The EU’s experience with emissions trading offers valuable lessons for Congress as they work to craft a sensible cap-and-trade program for the U.S.,” said Pew Center President Eileen Claussen. “The EU has done more than any other nation or set of nations in limiting GHG emissions – and the implementation of their cap-and-trade system has been a key part of their efforts.”

The report finds initial concerns with the EU ETS are being addressed and the program’s trial period has provided important lessons about the creation of new emissions trading schemes. In fact, the system has worked much as it was envisioned ¬– it established a European-wide carbon price; caused businesses to incorporate this price into their decision-making; and created the infrastructure for a multi-national trading program. In addition, emission reductions were realized in some covered sectors which underscore the system’s initial benefits.

The report helps address key cap-and-trade concerns in the U.S. and internationally, including over-allocation, price volatility, and excessive “windfall” profits. While it remains a work in progress, the EU ETS affords many important lessons for policy-makers and major stakeholders to consider when developing appropriate short- and long-term measures to limit greenhouse gas emissions.

For more information about global climate change and the activities of the Pew Center, visit


The Pew Center was established in May 1998 as a non-profit, non-partisan, and independent organization dedicated to providing credible information, straight answers, and innovative solutions in the effort to address global climate change. The Pew Center is led by Eileen Claussen, the former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs.

Statement: Bangkok Climate Change Talks

Statement of Elliot Diringer, Director of International Strategies
Pew Center on Global Climate Change

April 4, 2008

The Bali agreement was a major step forward, and while the Bangkok talks managed to keep the momentum going, they also underscored the enormous challenges ahead. The aim remains a new global deal in 2009, but it’s hard to leave Bangkok confident that deadline can be met.   

As might be expected at the start of a new negotiating round, it seemed at times that parties were moving backwards, reverting to the hard lines and rhetoric that lead nowhere but stalemate. Thankfully by the end they were able to agree on a work program to move the negotiations forward this year, including workshops on such key issues as adaptation, technology, finance, and sectoral approaches.

While the United States’ refusal to negotiate a binding emissions target remains the single largest obstacle to an effective climate agreement, U.S. negotiators did put forward a number of pragmatic suggestions for structuring the negotiations. Hopefully this new, more constructive approach will make it easier for the next administration to negotiate an agreement setting fair, effective, and binding commitments for all major economies.

It’s clear that all eyes are on the upcoming U.S. election. And there’s every reason to expect that, whatever the outcome, the prospects for U.S. action will be far stronger. But that alone will hardly guarantee a new global agreement in a matter of months. Other parties will have to show new flexibility and a greater willingness to act if there is to be a deal in Copenhagen.

Sectoral Approaches for a Post-2012 International Climate Framework - Background Note

**This brief background paper was released on March 30, 2008 at the UNFCCC Bangkok Climate Talks**

Since climate change first emerged as an international issue in the late 1980s, a recurring policy question has been whether to address it on a comprehensive or a sector-by-sector basis. In recent years, sectoral approaches have received renewed attention and are among the options proposed for the post-2012 period.

This background paper helps clarify different types of sectoral approaches under discussion and how they might fit into a post-2012 international climate framework.

Download the full paper (pdf)


Further Reading:

International Sectoral Agreements in a Post-2012 Climate Framework
Working Paper, May 2007


Articles & Testimony


Congressional Testimonies

Competitiveness and Engaging Developing Countries

Promoted in Energy Efficiency section: 

Response of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change to the House Energy and Commerce Committee's Climate Change Legislation Design White Paper: Competitiveness Concerns/Engaging Developing Countries

The Center commends the Committee for initiating this examination of options for addressing competitiveness and developing country engagement, in the context of domestic climate change legislation, and welcomes the opportunity to provide input on these critical issues. This submission offers a general perspective on these issues and responses to the questions posed by the Committee. 


The issues of competitiveness and developing country engagement are closely related, and some policy approaches that might be incorporated into domestic climate change legislation could, to some degree, address both concerns simultaneously.  However, it is important that these two issues be disentangled and that each be considered in its own right, both in order to understand their full characteristics and dynamics, and to identify policy options that may address one but not the other.  Further, it is important to consider whether a particular policy approach that appears to hold promise in addressing one concern may complicate or undermine efforts to address the other. 

Read the complete response (pdf)

History of International Negotiations

Climate change is a global challenge and requires a global solution. Greenhouse gas emissions have the same impact on the atmosphere whether they originate in Washington, London or Beijing. Consequently, action by one country to reduce emissions will do little to slow global warming unless other countries act as well. Ultimately, an effective strategy will require commitments and action by all the major emitting countries.

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
The international response to climate change was launched in 1992, at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, with the signing of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The Convention established a long-term objective of stabilizing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere "at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system". It also set a voluntary goal of reducing emissions from developed countries to 1990 levels by 2000 - a goal that most countries did not meet. Currently 191 parties, including the US, have ratified the UNFCCC.

UNFCCC First Ten Years: A Report of the UN Secretariat

Kyoto Protocol
Recognizing that stronger action was needed, countries negotiated the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which sets binding targets to reduce emissions 5.2 percent below 1990 levels by 2012. The Protocol entered into force on February 16, 2005, which made the Protocol's emissions targets binding legal commitments for those industrialized countries that ratified it (the United States has not ratified it). In addition, the market-based mechanisms established under the Protocol, including international emissions trading and the Clean Development Mechanism, became fully operational with the Protocol's entry into force.

Conference of the Parties (COPs)

COP 21 Paris
November 30 - December 12, 2015

COP 20 - Lima, Peru
December 1 - 12, 2014

COP 19 - Warsaw Poland
November 11 - 23, 2013

COP 18 - Doha, Qatar
November 26 - December 7, 2012

COP 17 - Durban, South Africa
November 28 - December 9, 2011

COP 16 - Cancún, Mexico
November 29 - December 10, 2010
The Cancún Agreements import the essential elements of the Copenhagen Accord into the UNFCCC, including mitigation pledges and operational elements such as a new Green Climate Fund for developing countries and a system of “international consultations and analysis” to help verify countries’ actions. Agreement hinged on finding a way to finesse the more difficult questions of if, when, and in what form countries will take binding commitments. The final outcome leaves all options on the table and sets no clear path toward a binding agreement.

COP 15 - Copenhagen, Denmark
December 7-18, 2009
A new political accord struck by world leaders at the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen provides for explicit emission pledges by all the major economies – including, for the first time, China and other major developing countries – but charts no clear path toward a treaty with binding commitments.

COP 14 - Poznan, Poland
December 1-12, 2008
Governments resolved in Poznan to shift into “full negotiating mode” in hopes of delivering a comprehensive new climate change agreement in December 2009 in Copenhagen.

COP 13 - Bali, Indonesia
December 3-15, 2007
In tense and chaotic talks that ran a full day longer than planned, delegates to the UN Climate Change Conference in Bali remained far apart on fundamental issues but in the end agreed to launch a loosely framed negotiating process with the ambitious goal of achieving a new global climate agreement in 2009.

COP 12 - COP/MOP 2
November 6-17, 2006
Government negotiators at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Nairobi continued two processes launched last year in Montreal to consider next steps in the international climate effort, and agreed in the final hours to open another track to review the Kyoto Protocol.

COP 11 - Montreal, Canada
November 28 - December 10, 2005
In two weeks of talks, delegates to the UN Climate Change Conference in Montreal concluded the decade-long round of negotiations that launched the Kyoto Protocol and opened a new round of talks to begin considering the future of the international climate effort.

COP 10 - Buenos Aires
December 6-17, 2004

COP 9 - Milan, Italy
December 1-12, 2003

COP 8 - New Delhi, India
October 23 - Novomber 1, 2002

COP 7 - Marrakech, Morocco
October 29 - November 9, 2001

COP 6 BIS - Bonn, Germany
July 16-27, 2001

COP 6 - The Hague, The Netherlands
November 13 - 24, 2000

In a preview of a tough year ahead, governments meeting at the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Lima, Peru, went 30 hours over deadline to hammer out a modest set of procedural steps, and made no real progress on the larger issues looming as they work toward a new global climate agreement next year in Paris.
Syndicate content