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EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS)

The EU ETS is the largest multi-country, multi-sector greenhouse gas emissions trading system in the world. It is central to the EU meeting its 20% emissions reduction target by 2020. Find out more about how the EU ETS works.

The EU ETS covers around 11,000 energy-intensive industrial installations throughout Europe including power stations, refineries and large manufacturing plants.

The scheme was expanded to the aviation industry on 1 January 2012.

EU ETS in the UK

The legal framework for the EU ETS is set out in the:

The UK has around 1,000 EU ETS participants. The ‘traded sector’, ie sectors covered by the EU ETS, will account for over 50% of the emissions reductions needed to meet UK targets between 2013 and 2020.

The EU ETS plays a key part in ensuring the UK complies with its legally binding carbon budgets, which will in turn help us reduce UK emissions to at least 35% (below 1990 levels) in 2020 and 80% by 2050. These targets are set out in the Climate Change Act 2008.

2012 EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) verified emissions data

From the 2 April 2013, 2012 installation level verified EU ETS emissions data contained in the European Union Transaction Log (EUTL) was made publicly available.

  • For the UK the total verified EU ETS emissions in 2012 was 231.2MtCO2
  • The average annual Phase II cap for the UK is 245.6MtCO2
  • The actual allocation to UK installations covered by the EU ETS in 2012 was 229.0MtCO2

2012 EU ETS results: UK sector table - April 2013 (PDF, 115KB, 1 page)

On 16 May the European Commission published a summary of the 2012 compliance position.

Management of the EU ETS

DECC sets the UK’s policy on the EU ETS, working in partnership with the devolved administrations and other government departments.

You can email DECC with policy-related queries at

Responsibility for implementation and regulation of the EU ETS is largely geographically based.

The Environment Agency (EA) is the UK administrator and English regulator for the EU Emissions Trading System.

As of 1 April 2013 the Welsh regulators are now in place taking over responsibility for Welsh installations. The contacts are given below.

Regulatory organisation for EU ETS Address for enquiries
Environment Agency for England
Scottish Environment Protection Agency
Northern Ireland Environment Agency
DECC (covering offshore installations)
Welsh Regulators or

Further information about the EU ETS

Read our guides to find out more about the EU ETS: