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What is the EU carbon market diplomacy task force?

Carbon Markets: Definitions

The EU carbon market diplomacy task force will be introduced by the European Union to bolster international carbon markets by assisting countries outside the bloc in launching similar schemes.

What is the EU carbon market diplomacy task force?
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The EU carbon market diplomacy task force will be introduced by the European Union to bolster international carbon markets by assisting countries outside the bloc in launching similar schemes. This task force aims to bridge differences between existing carbon pricing systems and facilitate connections among them, with the goal of combating climate change effectively on a global scale. The news on the establishment of the EU carbon market diplomacy task force came at the same time as the announcements of the EU 2040 climate goals that will bring the EU to a 90% net reduction of CO2 in the economy. The EU's commitment to leading international efforts in combating climate change through carbon pricing strategies remains a top priority and will be further discussed by the newly elected European Parliament this summer.

  • What were the reactions to the implementation of the CBAM? 
  • What are the 2040 EU climate announcements? 
  • Why do we need an EU carbon market diplomacy task force? 
  • What is the EU carbon market diplomacy task force?

What were the reactions to the implementation of the CBAM? 

The global reactions to the CBAM: from an initial discontent to broad acceptance 

The Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM) proposed by the EU initially faced resistance from third countries, with accusations of protectionism and concerns about its impact on global trade and growth. Developing countries, particularly in Africa, opposed the CBAM, fearing unfair economic burdens and viewing it as an imposition of climate policies by economically advanced nations. However, as discussions progressed, some countries, such as Russia, China, and India, shifted towards reluctant acceptance, exploring ways to adapt to the new carbon pricing. Despite initial hesitations, the UK expressed willingness to cooperate with the EU on CBAM, and Canada also signaled interest in developing its own border carbon adjustment. In the US, initial pushback softened as discussions turned towards the possibility of a carbon tax to create a level playing field in international trade.

A cry for help: how can carbon prices be implemented globally? 

Since the implementation of the CBAM, the EU has been inundated with requests from countries worldwide seeking advice on how to implement carbon pricing mechanisms. Kurt Vandenberghe, Director-General of the European Commission's Climate Action department, highlighted this surge in interest, indicating a widespread recognition of the importance of addressing climate change through carbon pricing strategies. The EU's leadership in adopting the CBAM has positioned it as a global reference point for climate action, prompting other nations to seek guidance in developing similar initiatives to mitigate carbon emissions and combat climate change effectively. 

The EU ETS is the oldest and largest cap-and-trade 

Due to the complexity of establishing emissions trading systems (ETS), countries are turning to the EU for support, as it currently has the most mature compliance carbon pricing mechanism. For instance, the EU ETS traded volumes exceeding 9000 million tonnes last year, generating revenues of 770 billion euros, surpassing the collective total revenues of North American compliance mechanisms by more than 10 times and exceeding their volumes by over 3 times. 

What are the 2040 EU climate announcements? 

A reminder of the EU climate announcements in February 2024

In February 2024, the EU announced its climate targets for 2040, highlighting a commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 90% compared to 1990 levels by 2040. Additionally, the EU brought upon its Industrial Carbon Management Strategy discussing what needs to be improved for a smooth and effective decarbonization - CO2 transportation and storage facilities, international cooperation…

The announcement of the carbon market diplomacy task force

At the same time as the 2040 climate announcements, there was news on the formation of a carbon task force. The European Union aims to bolster international carbon markets by increasing diplomatic efforts to assist countries outside the bloc in launching similar schemes, according to EU climate policy chief Wopke Hoekstra. He emphasized the importance of supporting other nations in implementing carbon pricing mechanisms akin to the EU ETS to combat climate change effectively. The European Commission plans to establish a task force to aid in the launch of carbon markets, aiming to bridge differences between existing schemes and facilitate connections among them. While countries like China, California, and Britain already operate carbon markets, challenges remain in harmonizing these systems. Despite some initial criticisms, Hoekstra expressed confidence in countries' readiness to adapt to the policy.

What is the EU carbon market diplomacy task force?

A continuation of global efforts to implement carbon prices 

At COP26 in 2021, initiatives like Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's global carbon pricing challenge were introduced to address climate change. Trudeau aimed to achieve coverage of 60% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions with explicit carbon pricing systems by 2030. Presently, 26 jurisdictions worldwide have implemented carbon pricing systems, covering 18% of global emissions, with an additional 22 jurisdictions currently in the process of developing such systems. These efforts signify a growing recognition of the importance of carbon pricing in reducing emissions and combating climate change on a global scale. However, the targets are still far from being reached, hence explaining the EU effort to bring about carbon pricing globally at a faster pace. 

Diverging ways to price carbon 

According to Ruben Vermeeren, an MEP, carbon pricing solutions cannot adhere to a one-size-fits-all approach, but efforts are to be made to make them as uniform as possible. The ICAP 2024 report highlights a new generation of emissions trading systems (ETS) worldwide, featuring hybrid design elements. Examples include systems in Australia, China, Indonesia, and those being developed in India - all of those combating a free market cap-and-trade carbon pricing with more simple carbon taxes. However, these market design differences pose challenges as of now, as emphasized by Turkish official Okan Ugurlu. Hence, the new task force aims to dispatch experts to assess how European expertise can be disseminated globally, using the European model as a reference. Further details are expected to be announced after the June 2024 elections.

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