The World's Carbon Markets

A case study guide to emissions trading

Around the world, policymakers are facing the challenge of finding the most efficient systems to limit global warming pollution.

Nations, states, provinces and cities are increasingly using efficient, market-based emissions trading programs as a way to cut carbon, forming a world of “bottom-up” climate actions. In fact, 10 percent of the world’s population and a third of its GDP now come from areas implementing carbon caps.

Environmental Defense Fund, a leading environmental non-profit, has partnered with the International Emissions Trading Association (IETA), a business association, to create The World's Carbon Markets: A case study guide to emissions trading. 

This online resource for governments at all levels, reporters, academics and other stakeholders uses a standardized format to detail 18 emissions trading programs that are operating or launching around the world.

For existing programs, the case studies include a brief analysis of the unique features of each program, as well as the challenges faced in the development, implementation, and operation of each. They also outline the following key design elements and important issues:

  • Cap/ target for emissions reductions
  • Scope and coverage of the programs
  • Auction format
  • Allowance distribution
  • Flexibility provisions
  • Volatility and cost containment mechanisms
  • Competitiveness and anti-leakage provisions
  • Market regulation and oversight
  • Complementary and supplementary measures
  • Economic projections
  • Results to date

For programs under development, the case studies give a brief overview of the history of the country’s actions on climate and progress, as well as the ongoing challenges. They also provide a snapshot of the market oversight and regulatory context for each program.

These resources can help policymakers and advocates better understand the use of multi-national, national, state and local emissions trading programs, and use the reliable and standardized information to evaluate and compare these systems.

Media contact

  • Jennifer Andreassen202-572-3387 (office)
    202-288-4867 (cell)
    envelope Email Jennifer