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Carbon leakage

Carbon leakage: Questions and Answers (October 2014)

Who has been consulted in the process of establishing the first list of sectors deemed to be exposed to a significant risk of carbon leakage?

The competent Commission services have attached much importance to consulting the stakeholders while establishing the first list of carbon leakage sectors, which has been agreed end of 2009. Several stakeholder meetings with industry, NGOs, academics and Member States took place in 2009 in the run-up to producing the list. The meeting documents and reports are available on the website of DG Climate Action.

The stakeholders have been able to provide full input to the process and to express opinions on the analysis that led to the decisions on which sectors to include on the carbon leakage list.

How has the second list which will be applicable from 2015 onwards been established?

Following the Communication on a policy framework for climate and energy in the period from 2020 to 2030, in which it was stated that the existing policy framework for those industrial sectors most at risk of carbon leakage should be maintained until the end of trading in phase 3, the Commission has prepared a new carbon leakage list (Decisionpdf(120 kB) Choose translations of the previous link  , Annexpdf(189 kB) Choose translations of the previous link  ). The list was adopted on 27 October 2014, and shall be applicable from 2015 to 2019.

For the new Decision, the Commission has carried out the assessment pursuant to Article 10a(15), (16) and (17) of the ETS Directive.

At what level of disaggregation have you performed the carbon leakage assessment?

Regarding the level of disaggregation used in the carbon leakage assessment, a common methodology is essential to provide a fair and consistent approach and retain a level playing field. This was followed in a transparent manner by the Commission.

As a rule, the assessment was performed at NACE 4 level, since this gives the Commission the best information on which to base its decisions, and allow the measures to avoid carbon leakage to be targeted most effectively.

For some sectors or sub-sectors which were not above the specific threshold values defined by the Directive above which sectors are deemed at a significant risk of carbon leakage, the Commission made a more disaggregated analysis, including at a product level. A few of those subsectors/products have also been deemed exposed to a significant risk of carbon leakage.

When will this list be revised?

European co-legislators (Council and European Parliament) decided that the Commission should determine the first list by the end of December 2009, and every five years thereafter. This means that the first list is used for the free allocation of allowances for the years 2013 and 2014. The second carbon leakage list, adopted on 27 October 2014, will be used for the free allocation in the period 2015-2019.

The Commission also may, at its own initiative or at the request of a Member State, every year add a sector or subsector to the list if it can be demonstrated, in an analytical report, that this sector or subsector satisfies the criteria laid down in the directive. This possibility was already used in 2011, when several sectors were added to the first list by Decision 2011/745/EU.

In 2011, 2012 and 2013 the Commission added 14 additional sectors and sub-sectors to the first carbon leakage list.

In addition to the above, the ETS Directive also gives the Commission the right to consider and propose a revision in the light of the outcome of international negotiations, based e.g. on new information on which countries are deemed to have committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the relevant sectors or subsectors to an extent comparable of the Community.

What are the environmental implications of the list?

It is important to bear in mind that the environmental outcome of the ETS is determined by the overall cap. However, the measures, i.e. higher levels of free allocation, are necessary from the environmental standpoint at the global level to avoid carbon leakage.

The EU ambition to reduce emissions by 21% in the ETS sectors remains unchanged and all sectors will have to contribute to the necessary emissions reductions, regardless whether they are on the list of exposed sectors or not. This will be ensured by the following elements:

  • The emissions cap will decline annually to reach a 21% cut in 2020 compared to 2005 and will apply across all sectors.
  • The total free allocation to industry is limited to the share of these industries' emissions in 2005 to 2007 and will decline with the emissions cap.
  • The absolute number of allowances distributed for free, which are to be shared out among the sectors, is determined by ambitious benchmarks based on the average performance of the 10% most efficient installations in a sector.
  • If adding up all the preliminary allocations as calculated based on the benchmarks would lead to an overshooting of the maximum amount, a so called "cross sectoral correction factor" will be applied.

How is it possible that sectors such as manufacture of musical instruments are included on the list?

Although such sectors are not among the activities explicitly mentioned in Annex I of the Directive, some installations in these sectors can be covered by the ETS due to their combustion units. Although they may not be energy-intensive, many qualify on the list of sectors deemed as exposed to a significant risk of carbon leakage due to high trade exposure.

In any case, only installations included in the ETS would receive free allowances, and only an amount corresponding to their relatively low combustion emissions from production of heat up to the level of a benchmark.

What is the reason for a higher level of free allocation of allowances to certain sectors?

The particular treatment will be provided to installations in sectors or sub-sectors that are deemed to be exposed to a significant risk of "carbon leakage" – relocation of production outside the EU – because they face competition from industries in third countries which are not subject to comparable greenhouse gas emissions restrictions. Installations within the mentioned sectors or sub-sectors will receive free allowance allocation up to 100% of the relevant benchmark until 2020, while installations that are not deemed to be exposed to a significant risk of carbon leakage will receive an allowance allocation up to 80% of the relevant benchmark in 2013, falling to 30% in 2020.

It should be noted, that due to the economic crisis and related emissions reductions, most energy intensive sectors covered by the EU ETS have accumulated a significant surplus of free allowances, since allocations were not reduced accordingly. Together with the current low level of carbon prices, the estimated risk of carbon leakage, in case there would be no free allocation to industry, is considerably lower than what was foreseen when the climate and energy package was adopted in 2009.