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ETXraordinary effort to improve EU carbon pricing

The LIFE ETX project, an EU-wide NGO campaign to make the bloc’s Emissions Trading System work better for people and planet, is winding up its activities. Noemí Rodrigo Sabio reflects on the project’s history and achievements.

After three active and action-filled years striving to raise awareness of and improve the EU ETS, the CMW-led Emissions Trading Extra (LIFE ETX) project is coming to a close. To mark this landmark, the closing partner conference, with a public component (fully booked), will take place in Brussels.

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One highlight of the grand finale is the last LifeETX Carbon Pricing Hub where a host of high-profile guest speakers will explore the implications of the European Parliament elections on the EU ETS and the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism and what can be done to ensure they benefit the climate and society. The debate can be attended online or in person. You can register here.

Steering the flagship

By raising public and civil society awareness of and engagement with the EU’s flagship climate policy and by championing its human dimension, the LIFE ETX project has demonstrated the potential for the EU’s Emissions Trading System to be a force for good, highlighted its weaknesses and campaigned for improvements. 

The ETX project started in the summer of 2021, when 10 European NGOs joined forces to campaign for a better EU ETS to benefit people and the climate by promoting civil society participation in policymaking and monitoring. ETX also carried out scientific assessments and conducted capacity-building that empowered civil society to engage in what is an extremely technical yet crucial policy area.

A wealth of resources

During the three years of the project, the ETX partners released a plethora of publications, both in their own languages and in English. These  included the popular EU ETS 101 and advocacy guides. The project also organised numerous trademark events, such as the Carbon Pricing Hubs mentioned above and ETS Talks, which proved popular with civil society, policymakers and even members of the public. The partner also created a range of tools and useful resources on the EU ETS, including  training modules and a resource library.

A behind-the-scenes shot from ‘At what price?‘, a live-streamed panel discussion

ETSmas carols

At the end of 2022, the EU institutions concluded the three-way trilogue on the reform of the Emissions Trading System (EU ETS). This long process that was meant to transform the mechanism into an effective tool for climate action culminated in a final deal that will not reduce Europe’s industrial carbon footprint rapidly enough to tackle the climate crisis. 

The reformed EU ETS lavishes free allowances on polluting industries and leaves households and taxpayers picking up the bill. Other policies are now needed to pick up the slack, if the EU is to accomplish climate goals for the good of the planet and society.
CMW together with other climate NGOs and the €TS ghosts gathered outside the European Parliament during the final negotiations to stand for the climate with a clear message: “End €TS freebies.

Human stories

In 2023, partners in the LIFE ETX consortium collaborated to tell the stories of people involved in the green transition. 

The aim of the Human Stories project was to show not only how the EU Emissions Trading System is decarbonising Europe, but how it is benefiting people at the same time. I travelled to Portugal, Greece and Belgium to discover more about how its revenues can be put to good use by improving peoples’ lives and empowering the green transition. Check out these documentaries here.

Future effect

LIFE ETX has held decision-makers accountable by scrutinising the good and bad of the Emissions Trading System and advocating for positive change. As the ETS enters a new era where it applies carbon pricing to buildings and transport, Carbon Market Watch and our partners and allies will continue to fight the good fight and campaign for the ETS to reach its maximum potential.

Towards that end, we will soon embark on a new project, LIFE Effect. Watch this space for more details.

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