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Carbon Fat Cats Could Make 5.6 Billion Euros from ETS

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New research by Sandbag Climate Campaign has revealed the top ten companies profiting from Europe’s Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), all of whom are prominent members of trade associations actively lobbying to prevent the system from being reformed.

The ‘Carbon Fat Cats’, all of them steel and cement companies, share between them surplus carbon permits (EUAs) of 240 million tonnes – more than the annual carbon emissions of Austria, Denmark, Portugal and Latvia combined.

Valued at 4.1 billion Euros, this windfall of free permits from 2008-2010 is worth over four times the entire EU environment budget over the same period. The surplus could grow further to a value of over 5.6 billion Euros by the end of 2012.

This huge over-supply of permits is threatening to undermine the Emissions Trading Scheme, Europe’s central tool to cut pollution, which gives carbon emissions a price and helps to incentivize investment in low-carbon technology.

A growing number of progressive businesses are calling for action to strengthen Europe’s climate ambition and reform the ETS. In the past week:
  • Five energy companies, including Scottish and Southern Energy, have called for urgent reforms to the ETS to reduce the over-supply of permits, in order to protect the economic incentive to invest in clean energy.
  • Over seventy leading businesses – including Google, Unilever, Aviva, Vodafone – have signed a declaration stating that ‘Increasing Europe’s climate ambition will be good for the EU economy and jobs’.
However, a few energy intensive industries oppose this and the trade associations the Carbon Fat Cats belong too are some of the most vociferous opponents to progress.

Sandbag’s research undermines assertions from industry associations and companies that they are suffering financially from the ETS.

Claims that they are fearful of loosing business to foreign competitors are also called into question: four of the companies have chosen to pay competing industries for emissions reductions rather than reduce their own.
  • Tata Steel spent an estimate 1 million Euros funding energy efficiency improvements at Ukranian steel mill
  • Thyssenkrupp spent an estimated 5.1 million Euros on reductions at steel works in China and India
  • Italian cement company Italcementi spent nearly 500,000 Euros funding energy efficiency improvements carried out by Conch Cement Company in China
  • Salzgitter spend an estimated 500,000 Euros funding energy efficiency improvements at a steel works in India

Carbon Fat Cats 2011

Purchasing carbon offsets from foreign competitors would not seem to be the actions of businesses genuinely concerned that the ETS will drive business abroad.

“More and more businesses see that Europe’s future lies in a highly efficient economy with low pollution, and they are demanding reform of the Emissions Trading Scheme as essential to help them get there,” said Baroness Worthington, Sandbag’s Founding Director. “A small group of Carbon Fat Cat companies are trying to stop this, in spite of potentially making billions from a windfall of free pollution permits.”

She added, “With billions of Euros of spare carbon permits, it’s no wonder that the Carbon Fat Cats oppose reform of the ETS, but without action, this central tool to direct investment into clean energy will be undermined.”

Check the following link to read/download the Full Report:

Source: Sandbag.