International examples of emissions trading

The following are some emissions trading schemes proposed or in operation around the world:


Description of scheme


Carbon Pricing Mechanism
Australia’s carbon pricing mechanism requires around 500 of Australia’s biggest polluters to pay a fixed carbon price for their emissions from 1 July 2012. The scheme, which covers around 60 percent of carbon pollution, will transition to a flexible price cap-and-trade emissions trading scheme from 1 July 2015. Both a price floor and price ceiling will be in place for the first three years of the flexible price period.

European Union

European Union Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS)
Commencing in 2005, the EU ETS is the world’s first and largest mandatory Cap and trade scheme for CO2 emissions covers all 27 EU members states, and three non-members (Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway).

Currently in Phase II (2008–12), the EU ETS covers roughly 10,000 facilities in the electricity generation sector and major energy-intensive industries which are collectively responsible for roughly 50 percent of the EU's emissions of CO2 and 40 percent of its total greenhouse gas emissions. 


Japan Voluntary Emission Trading Scheme (JV ETS)
Japan has operated a voluntary emissions trading schemes since in 2005 that covers CO2 emissions from fuel consumption, electricity and heat, waste management and industrial process from over 300 companies. Consideration for a mandatory ETS in Japan is ongoing.

New Zealand

New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme (NZ ETS)
In operation since 2008, the mandatory NZ ETS currently covers emissions from forestry, stationary energy, industrial processes and liquid fossil fuels, which are collectively responsible for roughly 50 per cent of New Zealand’s emissions. Emissions from waste are covered by the NZ ETS from 2013, while emissions from synthetic gases are covered by the NZ ETS or a levy from 2013 . Since 1 January 2012, the agricultural sector has had mandatory reporting obligations under the NZ ETS.

People’s Republic of China

China is scheduled to launch pilot emissions trading schemes in six provinces and cities in 2013 with a view to develop a nationwide trading scheme by 2015.

Republic of Korea

Scheduled to begin in 2015,  Korea’s emissions trading scheme will require about 470 of Korea’s largest polluters to pay for their CO2 emissions, collectively covering roughly 60 percent of Korea’s greenhouse gas emissions.


The Swiss Emissions Trading Scheme, which began on 1 January 2008, is a voluntary scheme run in conjunction with an exemption from the mandatory CO2 taxes.  The scheme covers CO2 emissions from large companies or groups of companies that opt in to the scheme.

United Kingdom

CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme
Established in 2010, the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme is a mandatory cap and trade scheme applying to large non energy-intensive organisations in the public and private sectors that are not covered by the EU ETS.  These organisations are responsible for around ten percent of the United Kingdom’s emissions.

United States

Progress is underway in California to design a cap-and-trade scheme that is required by the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 to begin in 2012.  Roughly 85 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the state from 360 businesses will be covered by the scheme.

Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI)
RGGI is a mandatory cap and trade scheme covering 209 fossil fuel electricity generators across ten north-eastern states in the United States.  It requires participants to hold a tradable allowance for each tonne of CO2 they emit by purchasing auctioned units or carbon offsets.

Western Climate Initiative (WCI)
The WCI is a  collaboration between 10 Western US States and  Canadian Provinces.  The cap-and-trade scheme is due to begin on January 1, 2012, covering emissions from electricity, electricity imports, industrial combustion, and industrial process emissions.  It is expected to be expanded in 2015  to include transportation fuels and residential, commercial and industrial fuels.  Approximately two-thirds of total emissions in the WCI jurisdictions will be covered initially, while nearly 90 percent of the GHG emissions in WCI states and provinces will be covered by 2015.

Last updated: 16 November 2012