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Frequently Asked Questions

Why the name Sandbag?

Sandbag was given it’s name by the organisation’s founder, Baroness Bryony Worthington.  She felt that the name Sandbag symbolised the positive coordinated action people take to protect themselves from natural disasters. It is especially apt given that sea level rise due to climate change is increasing the risk of flooding.

How are you funded?

We are 100% funded from three sources: the vast majority from charitable foundation grants,  a small amount from donations associated with the EU ETS allowance cancellations service we offer and every so often someone asks us to do analysis or provide data and pays us for the service.

What’s your legal status and how are you governed?

We are a not-for-profit company (a “Community Interest Company”). This means that any financial surplus we make would be ploughed back into the organisation We have a Board of Directors, that meets regularly to oversee the management of the organisation. We submit our annual accounts to Companies House each year.

Do you just work on the EU ETS?

When Sandbag was first set up, it solely focused on the EU Emissions Trading System because of its vast coverage (half of EU emissions) and huge potential to drive emissions savings.

In recent years, we have expanded to analyse and advocate change on other EU climate policies.  We have focused on those policies that can make the most difference: the Effort Sharing Regulation (covering the other half of EU emissions); phasing out coal; climate governance (such as the UK’s carbon budgets);   heavy industry emission reductions and carbon capture and storage.

We primarily focus on  EU policy, but also advocate for ambitious climate policy in the UK.  We also occasionally undertake work to support international climate actions including work on emissions trading in South Korea and China.

Isn’t the EU ETS just one great big con trick designed to let polluters off the hook and make traders rich?

No. The cap on emissions in the EU ETS is real, long lasting and legally enforced.  The trading system is changing behaviours and makes organisations track and account for their emissions.

Carbon trading does have its drawbacks and we are as frustrated as everyone else that the early cap setting has been so lacking in ambition and that the current carbon price is so low.

However, it is political will that is the problem not the policy choice.

Whatever the policy choice there would be the same hurdles and in fact because trading allows for flexibility in how organisations can comply, the political pressure on trading policy is often less than for apparently more straightforward options like taxation and regulation. Harmonised taxation across all Member States is also not legally possible in the EU.

Does your move to work on other policies mean you are giving up on the EU ETS?

No we still believe emissions trading can be an effective tool despite the problems being experienced currently. It certainly helps countries to sign up to targets if they know responsibility for reducing emissions lies with the companies making the investment decisions rather than with governments.  We are heavily involved in influencing the current reform of the EU ETS, and believe that Phase 4 provides a real opportunity to reset the level of ambition.

However the EU ETS is never going to be the only answer to tackling climate change.  Action is needed in the sectors not covered by the system, and additional support and funding is needed to drive technological change (like supporting the introduction of Carbon Capture and Storage).