Nature Climate Change special offer

One of the best sources of climate change science, Nature Climate Change, is being offered by the publisher for a mere $49.00 USD, though this is an online-only subscription.

The Impact of the EU-ETS and Other Incentives in Reducing GHG Emissions

An excellent new student reading for measuring the effectiveness of the European Union’s Emissions Trading System could be a very recent posting on’s website. The article sought to assess the relative importance of the EU-ETS and other incentive mechanisms to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the European Union during the past 15 years.

Among his conclusions:

  1. While EU-15 aggregate emissions declined by 6.5% in 2010 from 1990 levels, two nations, the UK and Germany, account for ALL of these emissions reductions. If these two nations were removed from the equation, emissions of the remaining founding EU members actually ticked up 1.9% during this period;
    1. Moreover, the majority of emissions declines in the UK and Germany occurred prior to either the signing of the Kyoto Protocol or implementation of the EU-ETS, with 80% of these declines prior to institution of the EU-ETS
  2. The article suggests that the principal driver of Europe’s rapid expansion of clean energy resources has not been the EU-ETS, but rather robust feed-in tariffs provided to solar, wind and other low-carbon sources. While the allowance price of the EU-ETS during Phase II fluctuated between 8-32 euros/ton from 2008-2012, German feed-in tariffs ranged from an implicit carbon price of $69-342/ton, 3-18x as high as the average EU-ETS carbon price in 2010;
  3. The article also suggests that it’s not surprising that nations with generous feed-in tariffs, such as Germany, have experienced much more robust growth in clean energy than in nations e.g. Romania and Finland, which lack such policies, yet are parties to the EU-ETS;
  4. Overall, the article concludes that “it is clear that direct government investment in technology provides a more powerful and effective market signal for clean energy investment than the more modest and fluctuating carbon prices established by an Emissions Trading Scheme or cap-and-trade system.

This would be an excellent article to launch a discussion of feed-in tariffs also, and their role in policy making. Given the efforts to rein in feed-in tariffs costs in countries e.g. Germany, it would be interesting to ask students whether they think this is ill-advised in the face of the data in this article. Also, do students think there is an incremental benefit to cap-and-trade programs that justify continuing to use them in tandem with incentive mechanisms, e.g. feed-in tariffs, or would it make more sense to focus on the former mechanisms?



Broadcast Interview on Climate Geoengineering

Wil Burns, the director of the Energy Policy & Climate program at Johns Hopkins, was interviewed last week by WYPR Baltimore’s Tom Pelton on climate geoengineering. The interview can be found on the WYPR website.


Planning for Local Climate Change short courses at U.Mass-Amherst

The Department of Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning at the University of Massachusetts is offering two intensive 6-week, 3-credit online courses on climate change this summer. The courses are open to master’s students as well as upper-level undergrads from any institution. They are appropriate for students in Environmental Studies, Sustainability Studies, Regional Planning, and City/Urban Planning and for environmental and planning professionals.

  • Planning for Local Climate Change Mitigation, May 26-June 28
  • Planning for Local Climate Change Adaptation, July 8-August 16


Registration info




Jeff Howard, Ph.D.
Visiting Scholar, Environmental Studies, NYU
Visiting Instructor, Regional Planning, UMass-Amherst


web page

Great New Resource: Interactive Emission Trading Scheme Map

The International Carbon Action Partnership and Ecofys have developed a map of the emissions trading schemes throughout the world, at the regional, national and sub-national levels.The Interactive ETS Map allows users to visualize the status of ETSs around the world, to access information on the schemes and to compare key design elements across ETS. It includes links to the websites of the systems, greenhouse gas emissions by sector in each system’s participants, and facilitate comparisons of the stringency of commitments and covered sectors between systems.