Resource centre for greenhouse gas accounting
Ministère de la Transition Écologique
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Industry : EU-ETS

EU-ETS: European emissions trading system

The European trading system for greenhouse gas emission quotas (allowances) is the cornerstone of European policy for combating climate change.

The principle is as follows: the Member States impose a cap on the emissions from the installations concerned (approximately 12,000 installations in the sectors of electricity production, heating networks, steel, cement, refineries, glass, paper, etc.: representing over 40% of European greenhouse gas emissions), then allocate them allowances corresponding to this cap. At the end of each year, the installations must surrender the number of allowances equivalent to their actual emissions. Companies subject to the scheme also have the possibility of trading allowances on the European emission quotas market:

  • An installation emitting more than its allocation must obtain the missing quota: this is the principle of "the polluter pays".
  • An installation emitting less than its allocation can sell its unused allowances and benefit from revenue that can be mobilized, for example, to finance investment enabling them to better manage their emissions.

The emission factors used in the framework of the EU-ETS are also available in the Base Carbone®. Certain installations of organizations subject to the obligation to produce a GHG emissions inventory may be subject to these quotas. Clearly, it is recommended to use the data declared for the EU-ETS for recording the corresponding direct emissions in a GHG emissions inventory.

The list of installations subject to quotas for the period 2013-2020 is defined by the Order of 24/01/14 determining the list of operators to whom greenhouse gas emission quotas are allocated and the total quotas allocated free of charge for the period 2013-2020.

Find out further information about the mechanism on the websites of the European Commission or of the MEDDE.


Carbon trading

Two economic measures are in place for reducing CO2 emissions:

  • In force since 1 January 2005, the European Union emissions trading system aims to limit CO2 emissions from the most polluting industrial sectors (see above).
  • For sectors not concerned by the emissions trading system, the domestic projects mechanism enables the triggering of investments in favor of the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by rewarding the project sponsors in line with the observed reductions.

To find out more:

65450 registered members
5311 validated emission factors
4266 published GHG inventories
19 sector guides