The first phase of the pioneering international Kyoto Protocol on climate protection expired at the end of 2012. A second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol (Kyoto II) was agreed at the international conference in Doha at the end of 2012. However, the countries involved in this process only represent some 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Binding worldwide regulations on climate protection should also be negotiated by 2015 and will apply from 2020.
The EU Emission Trading System has become established in the European Union as a tool for climate protection. It allows the European reduction targets defined at the political level to be achieved with minimum costs in macroeconomic terms. Prices for emission certificates are currently at a low level – compared with our original expectations. This is being criticised by a number of representatives from the political and corporate spheres, and a large number of non-government organisations. They are demanding a reduction in the emissions certificates available in order to create stronger incentives for investments in low-carbon technologies.
Despite the unexpectedly low prices for emissions certificates, the upper thresholds in reduction targets in the emissions trading sector defined by the European Union are being achieved. The economic crisis and the expansion of renewable energies have both contributed to achieving this. As a result of comprehensive efforts directed towards climate protection and due to the weak economic development, CO2 emissions in the European Union which are not covered by emissions trading have undergone more significant decline than expected.
At European level, the framework conditions for the future structure of emissions trading continue to remain unclear. However, as a result of the relatively low prices for CO2 emission rights, interventions in the market are not excluded.