Saturday, September 26, 2009

Emissions trading works in Germany

I have never been a fan of emissions trading, but the signs are becoming clearer that the current European design actually works. As I wrote recently, Germany is on to the way to meeting its targets quite easily, as is the EU as a whole.

A few weeks ago, we saw a good example of the impact that carbon trading is having when a German court ruled that construction of a new coal plant must be stopped. One reason was that local land planning regulations had been violated; specifically, they stipulate that new coal plants can only be constructed if the overall effect will be lower carbon emissions -- i.e., an old plant has to be taken down. The court argued that it is

... nicht ansatzweise sichergestellt, dass das Kraftwerk, das selbst einen erheblichen Ausstoß von Treibhausgasen verursachen wird, insgesamt zu einer Reduzierung beiträgt

(... far from certain that the power plant, which will itself have considerable greenhouse gas emissions, will lead to a reduction overall.)

E.On, which has already invested roughly 600 million euros in the coal plant, is apparently appealing the case, in which one of the plaintiffs was a local pig farmer and the other was Germany's main natural conservation group (BUND).

Even though the last word may not have been spoken in this case and E.On will probably find a way to continue, can you imagine a farmer and a group of environmental activists defeating a large multinational energy conglomerate in a US court?

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