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We published a new report today focused on the companies under the EU ETS who are currently building up nice fat surpluses of emissions permits. We launched it at a briefing for MEPs in the European Parliament – we got a good turn out and quite a heated debate ensued. There appeared to be quite a distinct North – South divide on this issue with representatives from Italy and Greece both stoutly defending those they fear will lose out if Europe goes ahead with a tougher target. But the overall message was that some of the biggest corporate lobby groups, currently trying to ensure Europe’s targets remain weak, are also some of the companies currently profiting greatly from the scheme.

We were very grateful to work with the company Carbon Market Data to establish a picture of how the EU ETS is working at a company level since the information made available to the European Commission doesn’t actually enable you to see this, as it just deals with individual installations. For companies like ArcelorMittal, the number one carbon fat cat, who own many sites in a number of countries they might have been hoping that nobody ever worked out just how flush they are in credits. Today we also heard that their ridiculous legal challenge against the EU ETS was defeated which ironically they might now be quite relieved about, given just how much money they can make from the position they find themselves in. But sadly this won’t stop them and the trade association they work through, Eurofer, claiming that the sky will fall in if targets are increased. Hopefully at least there are now some MEPs armed with enough real information to challenge them on this.

Our aim in publishing the report was as ever to point out that trading can be effective if implemented correctly and we also focused on the companies who are being required to make deep cuts – the power companies. Sadly a lot of their effort is being cancelled out by buying spare credits from the fat cats who were handed credits far too generously. In fact, this scheme would have had more effect if we had just included the power sector and left most of the others out. Hindsight is a marvelous thing – perhaps the US can learn this lesson though as they consider what shape their legislation should now take – power first is the key.

Next up this week will be a second report accompanying an interactive map focused on the use of offsetting to meet caps in the EU ETS. For the first time exactly who is offsetting, what type of projects they are using and where they are getting them from will be revealed in a glorious technocolour googlemap. Again this reinforces the message that companies will find it far easier to hit future targets than they are claiming. More on this to follow shortly.

Environment Ministers meet on March 15th to discuss the EU’s climate targets – we hope they will reach the obvious conclusion that caps can and must be tightened irrespective of what happens internationally. Only then can we cut down on the excessive profit making and start getting companies to make real investments in emissions cuts.