Sandbag is a UK based not-for-profit organisation campaigning for environmentally and economically effective climate policies, with a focus on the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS).
Our campaigns are supported by in-house research that monitors the environmental robustness of the ETS, the distribution of allowances, and how key sectors, installations and companies in the scheme are affected.
Through small changes in carbon markets, both in Europe and across the world, billions of tonnes of carbon dioxide can be prevented from entering the atmosphere; with our analysis and lobbying, we can make sure that’s what happens.
Join us in calling for tighter caps on emissions and/or take direct action to cancel carbon permits now.
Legal caps on emissions are in place across Europe. Use our maps to find out who is capped, how many emissions permits they have been given and where they are sourcing their offsets from. Nearly three quarters of installations now have more permits than they need.
This is why we're campaigning for caps to be tightened and for offsetting reforms.
What's new?
posted by Damien on 16th Jul 2014

Press release: for immediate release

Having recently cancelled allowances from its national carbon budgets, the UK Government now calls on the European Commission to do the same. In a new position paper published today, the UK government reasserted its support for cancelling “an ambitious volume” of carbon allowances from the EU Emissions Trading Scheme, indicating that the legislation currently initiated by the European Commission to fix the policy was inadequate.

The EU ETS, covering half of Europe's greenhouse gas emissions, is currently oversupplied by more than 2 billion tonnes worth of spare carbon allowances, equivalent to an extra year’s worth of emissions. To address this the European Commission has proposed introducing a “Market Stability Reserve” from 2021. This reserve would temporarily remove carbon allowances when there is a large oversupply as we see now, and return them to the market if they are needed later [1].

In the document released today the British government states that this proposal “does not constitute the comprehensive reform of the EU ETS the UK would like to see as it does not correct the problem of oversupply in the EU ETS, and as such is insufficient to put the System on the right track once and for all.” The document goes on to say, “The UK continues to call for cancellation of an ambitious volume of allowances to reduce the current surplus and help restore the balance between supply and demand.” [2] This follows moves last month to cancel 36 million spare tonnes out of the UK's national carbon budgets under the Climate Change Act. The UK was only able to cancel half of the excess in its first carbon budget because it was unable to unilaterally correct for a further 37 million spare tonnes that were within the EU ETS [3]. This is because any tightening of the supply of allowances in the EU carbon market needs to be agreed at EU level.

Damien Morris, Head of Policy at Sandbag says: “This is a welcome and timely intervention from the British government. A wide range of stakeholders share the government’s view that the Commission’s proposal to fix the EU carbon market is not, by itself, sufficient to put the scheme on track to cost-effectively achieve Europe’s long-term climate goals. An increase in environmental ambition is also urgently needed, and cancellation is the obvious way to achieve this. The UK position should embolden others to stand up and be counted in the months ahead.”

Notes Sandbag is a London-based climate change NGO and thinktank campaigning for an effective carbon market.

[1] The Commission’s legislative proposal is published online here:

[2] See page 5 of The UK government position is published online here:

[3] See advice from the UK Climate Change Commitee here:

[4] In the public consultation on structural reform of the EU ETS which closed on 28 February 2013, numerous stakeholders expressly called for large volumes of allowances to be cancelled from the scheme.

Add comment


(will not be displayed on our website but we might want to contact you):



Previous blog posts

Our Climate is Changing!
Subscribe to the
sandbag monthly newsletter

  • Sandbag ... strikes a balance between underlining the merits of the EU ETS and criticising the weaknesses.
    Connie Hedegaard, European Commissioner for Climate Action, speaking at the launch of Sandbag's "Buckle Up!" report in the European Parliament
  • Sandbag is playing a crucial role in making sure that Europe's cornerstone climate policy actually does its job.
    Caroline Lucas, MP
  • An inspirational idea that promises to make a real and positive difference... and a wonderful opportunity to help sort out the climate mess we've all created.
    Prof. Chris Turney, University of Exeter and author of Ice, Mud and Blood: Lessons from Climates Past
  • It just seems to be a campaign that gets right in there with how big companies work, beating them at their own game, rather than standing by spouting platitudes, wringing hands and doing nothing. Keep up the good work!
    Sandbag supporter
  • Probably the most creative anti-climate change website around.
    Alok Jha, The Guardian (listen to the podcast)
  • I am a graduate student, researching EU foreign policy on climate change. Sandbag has been the only source that has been able to bring a degree of transparency to the ETS.
    sandbag supporter
  • Here at last is a way to really keep carbon out of the atmosphere - by buying pollution credits on the European market and destroying them. I wholeheartedly support this initiative, and the vital linked campaign to get the European carbon cap tightened up.
    Mark Lynas, New Statesman environment correspondent and author of Six Degrees,
  • I consider your offset map to be a massive step forward in transparency in carbon markets, and a wholly positive development.
    sandbag supporter
  • What I like most about Sandbag is that a group of brilliant people are working on what matters rather than just what is visible or easy to engage with.
    sandbag supporter
function hide_all_map_pics() { $('#frontpage_emissionsmap_image').hide(); $('#frontpage_offsetmap_image').hide(); $('#frontpage_jimap_image').hide(); $('#frontpage_fatcatsmap_image').hide(); } $('#frontpage_emissionsmap_link').hover(function() { hide_all_map_pics(); $('#frontpage_emissionsmap_image').show(); }); $('#frontpage_offsetmap_link').hover(function() { hide_all_map_pics(); $('#frontpage_offsetmap_image').show(); }); $('#frontpage_jimap_link').hover(function() { hide_all_map_pics(); $('#frontpage_jimap_image').show(); }); $('#frontpage_fatcatsmap_link').hover(function() { hide_all_map_pics(); $('#frontpage_fatcatsmap_image').show(); }); $('#newsletter_email_field').focusin(function() { if ($('#newsletter_email_field').val() == 'your email here...') { $('#newsletter_email_field').val(''); } }); $('#newsletter_email_field').focusout(function() { if ($('#newsletter_email_field').val() == '') { $('#newsletter_email_field').val('your email here...'); } }); $('#newsletter_form').validate({ rules: { email_field: { email: true } } });
© 2014 Sandbag Climate Campaign CIC
Registered as a Community Interest Company in England & Wales: Company No. 6714443
Registered Address: BWB Secretarial Ltd, 2-6 Cannon Street, London, EC4M 6YH
Trading Address: 28 Leman Street, Aldgate, London, E1 8ER