2016 was a year that shook the world and the European Union in particular. The new hope for multilateral climate cooperation under the 2015 Paris agreement received a blow with the election of a climate denier to the White House. The European Union, as an ongoing project for peace and prosperity, was shaken by a Brexit referendum outcome initiating a process that will see one of its bigger Member States leave the Union. In both cases the use of so-called ‘fake news’ and intentional disrespect for facts and data played a role in what can be seen as a form of chilling voter manipulation. In this context the vital importance of Carbon Market Watch, an NGO who bases its advocacy firmly on data gathering and analysis, cannot be stressed more.
Promoting transparency and accountability in European climate policy is crucial, especially given its increasing complexity. The EU Emissions Trading System, in particular, has become a regulatory medusa following the almost ten reviews since its inception in 2005. At this moment it is extremely hard to explain to the general public how and if the EU ETS is functioning. In particular why the system seems to be achieving its goals while at the same time cementing over-allocation to some companies that barely make an effort to reduce emissions.
The regulation covering the emissions from other sectors such as transport, buildings and agriculture, covering almost 60% of EU greenhouse gas emissions, also deserved the spotlight initiated by Carbon Market Watch. It is disappointing to see some EU Member States, less than one year after they applauded the Paris Agreement, advocating major loopholes in the Effort Sharing Regulation which would be detrimental for the EU’s ambition level and international credibility. It is by exposing and remediating these manifest contradictions between climate rhetoric and actual implementation, that long term public trust in EU and national climate policies can be maintained.
Working in such complex and data heavy environment is challenging and resource intensive for a smaller NGO. Publicising or exposing specific data and its impact on public and private stakeholders can lead to hostile responses from other often much more powerful players. Limited resources and access to data can unfortunately also cause mistakes. Striving towards unimpeachable accuracy, transparency and conclusions and recommendations should therefore be a continuing endeavour for Carbon Market Watch.
I applaud Carbon Market Watch for its work and achievements in 2016. The EU and the world needs NGOs such as Carbon Market Watch now more than ever. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants, in particular in the dark times that might lie ahead.
Board Member 2012 – present