EU Carbon Market Emissions Fall Most in 5 Years on Mild Weather

Carbon dioxide emissions in the European Union’s cap-and-trade program, the world’s largest, fell by the most in five years as warmer-than-average weather curbed demand for gas and power. Permit prices rose.

Emissions from companies covered by the program dropped 4.9 percent in 2014, less than the 5.8 percent decrease forecast by analysts in a Bloomberg survey. The preliminary EU data implies pollution in the bloc’s emissions trading system fell to 1.816 billion metric tons, the lowest since the market started in 2005, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

Last year was Europe’s warmest on record, according to MDA Information Systems LLC in Gaithersburg, Maryland, whose data goes back to 1981. Power prices in Germany, the largest European economy, fell for a fourth year as renewable energy’s share of the nation’s electricity use rose to almost 28 percent in 2014, the government said March 5.

“The majority of the fall in emissions stemmed from the power sector where greenhouse-gas output fell in light of an abnormally warm year,” said James Cooper, an analyst at New Energy Finance in London. “An increase in renewables generation was also a factor.”

Emission permits for December climbed 3.7 percent to 7.23 euros ($7.77) a metric ton, the highest in a week, on ICE Futures Europe as of 3:42 p.m. in London. Prices are still 70 percent lower than at the start of 2008 amid a record glut of allowances, which accrued as economies slowed amid the euro-zone crisis, curbing demand.

Permit Glut

The EU’s emissions trading system, covering about 12,000 installations owned by utilities and manufacturers, is the bloc’s main policy tool to reduce greenhouse gas discharges. It imposes decreasing pollution caps on power producers and industries from cement to paper.

After a glut of allowances pushed prices to levels that fail to deter industry from burning coal, the EU enacted last year a rescue plan to withhold 900 million allowances from auctions. It was followed by a draft measure to control supply through a so-called market stability reserve, which is currently being considered by EU governments and the European Parliament.

“We expect the price volatility seen in the wake of the release to be relatively short-lived as the EU ETS reform agenda recaptures the headline,” Cooper said.

The commission, the 28-nation EU’s executive arm, today granted access to 2014 emissions data at installation level. The information covers 86 percent of stationary installations, excluding aviation, according to New Energy.

Power Generation

EU ETS emissions from power generation fell 8.6 percent last year on a like-for-like basis, as demand for electricity contracted 2.5 percent, according to New Energy. Renewables, excluding hydro energy, provided 16 percent of power generated in the EU, up from 14 percent in 2013, the analysts estimated.

Germany, the biggest emitter in Europe, shrank its pollution for the first time in three years in 2014, the government said Tuesday. Total greenhouse-gas emissions, including discharges outside the ETS, dropped 4.3 percent to 912 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent, the lowest level since 2010, according to the environment ministry.

“Much of the reduction in 2014 was due to the mild winter,” Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks said in a statement. “But we owe a part of the decline to real progress on climate protection.”

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