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.
Take pollution permits out of the system
In the past,
there was no limit to CO2 pollution...
in Europe big polluters need permits.
are issued by the EU, setting a cap on pollution...
...but too many
are being issued, giving little incentive to reduce pollution.
permits with Sandbag and take them out of the system...
...and lobby
to tell politicians not to issue so many.
permits means less pollution and more clean energy.
we can help prevent millions of tonnes of carbon emissions
Why carbon destruction?
In Europe big polluters need pollution permits. These permits, issued by the EU, provide a legal limit on CO2 emissions.*
However there are too many permits - meaning little incentive to reduce pollution and millions of tonnes more CO2.
Sandbag's Carbon Destruction lets you take action to change this:
  1. Buy permits and immediately take them out of the system. Fewer permits mean less pollution. Each permit represents the right to emit one tonne of CO2.*
  2. At the same time you can send an email calling on EU politicians to repair the European Emissions Trading Scheme and make sure that it is both ambitious and fair.
You can also donate to support our work, as we shine a light on what's broken in emissions trading and lobby to repair it. Together we can help prevent millions of tonnes of CO2 emissions and promote a cleaner economy.

*Carbon Dioxide (CO2) is the main gas covered by the ETS, but the allowances you destroy can also be used to cover emissions of other greenhouse gases, namely Nitrous Oxide (N2O) and Perfluorocarbons (PFCs). Sectors covered include oil refineries, steel works and production of iron, aluminium, metals, cement, lime, glass, ceramics, pulp, paper, cardboard, acids, bulk organic chemical, and commercial aviation.
Price per permit
£7.02 per permit
Find out more
Leave your contact details and we will get back to you:
Your name:
Your organisation/company:
Your email:
Your phone number:
Number of permits:
Thank you for submitting your contact details.

We will get back to you as soon as possible!

Sandbag buys permits from the EU carbon market and cancels them on your behalf. We charge the market rate plus 10% to cover our costs - we earn no revenue through providing this service.

Current price: £7.02 per permit/tonne destroyed.

Current set of permits were purchased from: Vertis

We will send you a certificate with the unique reference number of the permit(s) you've bought. We will also send an email on your behalf to EU politicians who have the ultimate decision about how many permits are issued. You can also add an optional donation to your purchase, to support Sandbag's crucial work to highlight what's not working in the EU ETS and increase the pressure for it to be repaired.

VAT at 20% is included in the price of the permit.

If you require a large number of permits this may be more than we have in our inventory. Please click here to enter your contact details and we will get back to you.

Read email to EU
You can make more of an impact by sending an email to the EU, telling them to tighten the caps. Read email.
The following email will be sent to EU Council President Tusk, EU Commission President Juncker and EU Parliament President Schulz:

Dear President Tusk, President Juncker and President Schulz,

I have just spent [£7.02 (approx. €)] of my hard earned cash to cut emissions in Europe ([Sandbag ID: 987764]).

An EUA CO2 allowance has been removed from the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS), taking with it the potential tonne of CO2 pollution it would have allowed.

Now it's your turn.

Emissions trading urgently needs political support to help it work as planned. The ETS currently has a surplus of more than 2 billion allowances, and the carbon price is far below what’s needed to encourage green growth and penalise dirty coal power. Even with ‘backloading’, the temporary removal of permits, the incentive to reduce emissions has all but disappeared. This has to change.

Real reform must now include, at a minimum:
A cancellation of a significant amount of the allowance surplus.
A 2017 start to the Market Stability Reserve, and stronger parameters for the reserve.
An increase in the EU 2020 Greenhouse Gas reduction target, as Europe is already on course to smash the current unambitious 20% target.

This is where you come in! Please work together to encourage Member States, the College of Commissioners and Members of the European Parliament to make sure the meaningful decisions are made to ensure the EU carbon market begins to work for the climate and the EU economy. As a collection of rich, developed countries, the EU has a responsibility to lead the way in emission reductions, but equally an opportunity to seize the lead in green growth.

Your sincerely,

[Sally Sandbag]

See your certificate
As soon as you make a payment we will cancel a permit in your name and send you an e-certificate. See it here.
Here is a screenshot of the Carbon Destruction Certificate that you will receive:
How does trading in pollution work?

Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are being emitted in huge volumes all over the planet and are highly concentrated in rich countries. These additions to the atmosphere last for many years, accumulating and trapping more of the suns energy. Thankfully some sensible people in the UN and Brussels have decided to take control of the situation. Rich countries and large commercial sources of greenhouse gases are now legally prevented from emitting more than a fixed amount in a given year - their emissions are capped. But because it doesn't really matter to planet earth where emissions of greenhouse gases occur - they all eventually do the same thing: heat the planet up - the regulators have said if you have to emit more than your cap, you can, but you have to find someone else who is prepared to emit less than their cap to sell you their permit to emit. And this market in buying and selling pollution permits is now underway, governed by rules set periodically by the UN and Europe.

What is the rationale for individuals buying permits and taking them out of the market?

By buying a permit for one tonne of emissions and taking it out of a market we take it out of the hands of would-be polluters and force them to invest more in cleaning up their act. The market contains many millions of permits so each individual action has only a small effect but it does genuinely mean one less tonne of permitted emissions. If lots of us buy permits, however, it will become more expensive to pollute and then cleaner ways of doing things will receive more investment.
By destroying a permit you are also making yourself a stakeholder in this important issue showing decision makers that you are prepared to pay now to help solve the problem. Since solving climate change is all about time and money this is an important action.
Traded markets in pollution rights can be hugely important forces for change if they are designed and implemented correctly. Produce a low number of permits and the world emits less and the cost of permits rise. Produce too many and nobody has to do anything and prices fall to zero. Pollution markets are created by Governments. They come under pressure from emitters to keep the number of permits generous. They also worry about higher prices pushing up the cost of living. This makes them very, very cautious. By applying pressure in the other direction - by showing we are prepared to pay for fewer permits to be in circulation we can help to ensure trading really delivers change at the scale and pace necessary to tackle this problem.

Who's behind all this and are they making any money out of it?

Sandbag is a not for profit enterprise. We are funded by charitable foundation and the donations of our supporters. We started Sandbag because we wanted to speed up action being taken to tackle climate change. We also thought some of the other actions people were being offered to make a difference were not clearly reducing carbon emissions, or failed to take into account the larger picture of how individuals are affected by and can affect policies like Europe's Emissions Trading Scheme. So we aim to be as transparent as possible.

Why the name Sandbag?

We came up with the name Sandbag because for us it symbolised a positive action people could take to protect themselves from natural disasters and flooding is likely to be increasing impact of global climate change. We also wanted a single word that would distinguish us from the many 'climate this' or 'carbon thats' there are already out there. Only after we had launched, someone pointed out that sandbags are used as a safety control in hot air ballooning - 'hot air' is a term used in emissions trading to describe the permits that become spare through no actually effort on the behalf of the owner - ie they were given them wrongly in the first place. We like this. Sandbag is all about controlling 'hot air' in emissions trading.

How many should I buy?

You could relate your decision to your own 'carbon footprint'. We recommend you use the Government's calculator available here. Or if you want to track things in a little more detail you can create your own Carbon Account. If you are interested in not just what you emit directly but also emissions from the things you buy and consume then you can use WWF's calculator. This gives a far higher value.
As a rough guide each household in the UK emits about 4-5 tonnes per year. Emissions from transport can add an extra couple of tonnes and each long haul flight adds another tonne. Adding emissions from the things we consume roughly doubles your score.

Can I buy a tonne for someone else as a gift?

Yes it is possible to buy tonnes for other people. Just use the Carbon Destruction page and check the 'Gift' option.

How much does it cost?

Previously Sandbag charged £25 per tonne. This covered the cost of the permit and included a donation to support our work. Following feedback from our supporters we now offer carbon permits on a 'cost plus' basis. The price of buying a permit from the market fluctuates with supply and demand in the market. The price we charge reflects the market price of the permits at the time we purchased them plus a little extra to cover administration costs. There is option to include a donation on top of this. Current price: £7.02 per permit/tonne destroyed.

What if I just want to make a donation and not buy permits?

If you would just like to support our research and campaigning work you can make a donation without having tonnes cancelled in your name. Go to one of our map pages and click the Donate button, or (if you're a millionaire) contact us directly. Thanks.

Where does my money go?

If you're buying permits through our Destroy Carbon service you're paying for the cost of the permits plus a little extra to cover our administration.
We earn no revenue for the sales. The current permits available to cancel were purchased from Vertis.
Donations to Sandbag help to fund our campaigning work.

How do I know a permit has really been cancelled on my behalf?

Each emissions permit that is created has a unique identification number and permits are kept in secure databases known as registries. Participants hold accounts within the database and exchange certificates when they trade. Sandbag is a registry account holder the permits that we cancel will all appear in our account. When you join Sandbag and we cancel permits on your behalf you will receive an electronic certificate with a unique number for each permit that has been destroyed. We will also periodically publish on this website copies of the registry account in which all our cancelled allowances are kept and cancelled so you can see exactly what is going on.

Do I have to give money to massive polluting companies?

Yes and no. Emissions trading is founded on the idea that you can harness market forces to deliver an environmental good. Markets are based on exchanges of goods, so unfortunately, under these rules if we want someone to stop doing something, we pay. It's actually not such a bad idea. Most of us have and use money to meet our needs. I need a stable climate and think we are currently taking too many risks with it so I'm prepared to pay to make a difference. And these huge polluting companies are actually just making stuff that we need, ok and some stuff we perhaps don't, but on the whole they are not James Bond villains deliberately destroying the planet. They only stop doing things if they're told to by Governments or if doing so makes them money. Emissions trading is a way of doing both of these things - Government gives them fewer permits than they need and we go a bit further by paying them to reduce even more.

I'm already paying for the effect of the emissions trading market in my energy bills - why should I do more?

It is true that because all electricity generators are included in the EU emissions trading scheme, and have been given fewer allowances than they need, you are already paying for them to reduce emissions, through your electricity bill. In fact, it's worth bearing in mind that if you do decide to reduce your own carbon emissions, and you take actions that reduce your electricity consumption, like fitting low energy light bulbs (or hopefully soon LEDs) then unless you buy up the corresponding amount of permits from the market you are either just helping the power companies buy fewer permits or enabling them to sell spare permits to someone else.
This is why Sandbag is so important.
Once the market is established and the permits handed out, the only way to make sure some of your actions count is to buy up and destroy those permits. We then have a stronger argument the next time caps are being set that there should be fewer created.

How 'leaky' is the emissions trading scheme? How do I know what I'm buying is really making a difference?

In an emissions trading market with a cap, enforcement is a key issue - the European emissions trading scheme is a legal instrument that is regulated and enforced by environmental regulators in each of the 27 EU countries. Official registries exist to ensure permits are uniquely identifiable and cannot be counterfeited or double counted. The EU scheme also allows credits from developing countries to be used up to a certain limit. These credits are verified and regulated by the UN. When we cancel permits two things can happen - if the limit on use of overseas credits has not been reached, a credit can be purchased from these approved projects. This creates additional demand meaning increased reductions in emissions in developing countries. Or, if the limit has been reached, emissions must be reduced in the EU. Either way the act of cancelling a credit reduces the amount of pollution that would have occurred otherwise.

How are permits created? If they are handed out for free why should I pay for them?

Permits have until now been handed out free of charge. This approach was taken to give companies time to adjust to the imposition of limits on something they had until now been able to do freely. It may seem crazy but that's how it's been organised to date. We believe this is the wrong approach and fortunately from 2013 on a large number of European polluters will have to pay up front for permits to pollute.
We believe the vast majority of polluters should have to pay. Governments can and should use the money received to support the development of cleaner technologies and to help people who are most vulnerable to increases in energy prices as limits on pollution get tighter and companies have to pay to adjust.
We don't want to pay for permits if we don't have to. That's why we campaign to ensure far fewer permits are handed out in the next trading period which is set to begin in 2013. Decisions about how it will work will be being made in the coming years.

Politicians should have handed out fewer allowances in the first place - why should I pay to make up for their mistakes?

It is true politicians have made mistakes and they will continue to do so unless they feel pressure from public opinion and voters. The reason why they handed out too many allowances initially was because they were under pressure from industry who claimed that if they received too few allowances they would loose out against competitors in other European countries and the rest of the world.
Sadly that argument won the day and is still being used to slow down action even now. Sandbag doesn't want your money to let politicians off the hook - quite the opposite - every supporter who pays to cancel a permit also sends makes a statement that there should be few permits. That's why for everyone who destroys carbon through Sandbag a message is emailed to the EU demanding action to repair the Emissions Trading Scheme.
Sandbag is campaigning to make sure the same mistakes are not made again and to minimise the damage resulting from decisions made to date that can't be reversed. Not to do so would be cutting our nose off to spite our face. We can make a difference despite what the politicians so far have done and we believe we should.

Why won't Governments just hand out more permits to compensate for the ones we've bought up?

Because they can't and because we'll be watching. No more credits can be created from now until 2013.
It is entirely legitimate to buy up and destroy permits - nobody has to sell them to us and they will only do so if they are offered a price they will accept.
Governments cannot explicitly compensate companies for the credits that have been purchased and cancelled out of the market by individuals. They may want to try, but the rules don't allow it. And even from 2013 when a new set of rules and a new batch of permits will be created they won't be able to. Caps will be set by Europe and not by individual Member States and it was the EU who made sure individuals could get involved in the market in the first place.

Will Sandbag cancel other forms of emissions permits or credits or just use EU permits?

The carbon market is primarily a tool for western rich countries who have targets under Kyoto to meet those targets.
There are emissions trading schemes already in operation New Zealand and part of the USA and Australia [see our world map] but the EU emissions trading scheme is the largest by a long way So that less developed countries can receive funding for projects that reduce emissions in their countries, the rules allow them to generate and sell allowances into the market. These allowances are called Certified Emissions Reductions (CERs) and can only be released after the UN has approved the emissions saving projects they come from. Sandbag only purchases EU allowances (EUAs) because these are the most easy to track, from the largest and most important emissions trading scheme and we want to make a point about the need to hand out fewer in the first place.

Does this relate to the Kyoto Protocol in any way?

Sandbag is currently focusing on the EU emissions trading scheme, but this is actually just a tool for the EU to meet its target under the Kyoto Protocol. The Kyoto Protocol set out to reduce developed countries emissions by 5% compared to 1990 levels. It too issues permits (known as AAUs) up to the level of a cap and allows trading between countries that have caps. The allowances created under the EU scheme count towards Kyoto targets too, so each certificate we buy from the EU scheme also helps the EU meet its target under Kyoto.


Carbon destruction ('the service') allows individuals and organisations to take direct action to reduce carbon emissions and call for the EU to do more to tackle climate change.

The European Union has a 'cap and trade' policy that sets a legal limit on carbon dioxide emissions covering over 12,000 installations - mainly power stations and large factories. A fixed volume of pollution is allowed each year - the cap - and for every tonne of pollution installations emit, they need to present an allowance, known as EUAs. By supplying a declining amount of allowances, pollution is reduced over time. Trade in permits is permitted to allow the market to find the lowest cost carbon savings.

Through Carbon Destruction, Sandbag purchases EUAs from this market on behalf of individuals and organisations, who pay Sandbag for the service. The EUAs are permanently taken out of the carbon market so reducing the number of permits and hence future pollution.

Unfortunately the system is not living up to its potential because too many EUAs have been issued. So as well as cancelling specific EUA permits, Carbon Destruction allows the user to send a message to EU politicians calling on them to urgently repair the emissions trading system by reducing the supply of EUAs.


Sandbag buys EUAs in advance and for each tonne purchased and cancelled Sandbag allocates a specific EUA - identified by a unique code - which is then marked as cancelled in Sandbags EUA account on behalf of the purchaser.

Each purchaser immediately* receives a certificate with their EUA reference numbers, allowing them to check at any point in the future that the EUA has been removed from the emissions trading system.
*by email, within 24hrs, assuming we have enough in stock to cover the purchase - see below.


When possible Sandbag buys EUAs from non profit organisations, such as hospital trusts or universities, large enough to have been issued with permits. This means that we know the initial origin of the permits. If such a seller cannot be found Sandbag may also buy from a broker. In either case the price offered to Sandbag for the EUAs is largely determined by the 'spot price' of the carbon market, plus any additional charges that the seller of the EUAs adds.

The process of purchasing EUAs involves costs - finding a buyer, brokering a transaction etc. Generally it is only possible to purchase volumes greater than 1000 tonnes. The process of providing the Carbon Destruction service also adds to our core costs - web development, staff time etc.

Sandbag therefore offers Carbon Destruction on a 'cost plus' basis, charging the price we paid for the permit plus 10% to cover the costs of providing the service.


Sandbag is able to offer refunds if absolutely necessary.

Out of Stock?

Sandbag keeps a stock of EUAs and cancels them as supporters use the Carbon Destruction service. When the stock runs low we purchase more. As we do not have the capital to keep a large stock of EUAs there is a chance that EUAs will be used up before more are purchased - for example if someone makes a large purchase. In this instance the website purchase form will indicate how many are available and supporters will be invited to contact Sandbag to let them know they are interested in purchasing additional tonnes.

SANDBAG privacy policy

We are committed to safeguarding the privacy of our website visitors; this policy sets out how we will treat your personal information.

  1. What information do we collect?
    We may collect, store and use the following kinds of personal data:
    (a) information about your computer and about your visits to and use of this website, such as your IP address, geographical location, browser type, referral source, length of visit and number of page views;
    (b) information relating to any transactions carried out between you and us on or in relation to this website, including information relating to any purchases you make of our goods or services;
    (c) information that you provide to us for the purpose of registering with us;
    (d) information that you provide to us for the purpose of subscribing to our website services, email notifications and/or newsletters; and (e) any other information that you choose to send to us.
  2. Cookies
    We use cookies on this website. A cookie is a text file sent by a web server to a web browser, and stored by the browser. The text file is then sent back to the server each time the browser requests a page from the server. This enables the web server to identify and track the web browser.
    We may send a cookie which may be stored on by your browser on your computer's hard drive. We may use the information we obtain from the cookie in the administration of this website, to improve the website's usability and for marketing purposes. We may also use that information to recognise your computer when you visit our website, and to personalise our website for you.
    Most browsers allow you to refuse to accept cookies. (For example, in Internet Explorer you can refuse all cookies by clicking "Tools", "Internet Options", "Privacy", and selecting "Block all cookies" using the sliding selector.) This will, however, have a negative impact upon the usability of many websites, including this one. We may use Google Analytics to analyse the use of this website. Google Analytics generates statistical and other information about website use by means of cookies, which are stored on users' computers. The information generated relating to our website is used to create reports about the use of the website. Google will store this information. Google's privacy policy is available at:
  3. Using your personal data
    Personal data submitted on this website will be used for the purposes specified in this privacy policy or in relevant parts of the website.
    We may use your personal information to:
    (a) administer the website;
    (b) improve your browsing experience by personalising the website;
    (c) enable your use of the services available on the website;
    (d) send to you goods purchased via the website, and supply to you services purchased via the website;
    (e) send statements and invoices to you, and collect payments from you;
    (f) send you general (non-marketing) commercial communications;
    (g) send you email notifications which you have specifically requested;
    (h) send to you our newsletter and other marketing communications (relating to our business or the businesses of carefully-selected third parties) which we think may be of interest to you by post or, where you have specifically agreed to this, by email or similar technology (you can inform us at any time if you no longer require marketing communications to be sent by emailing us at info [at]
    (i) provide third parties with statistical information about our users - but this information will not be used to identify any individual user; and
    (j) deal with enquiries and complaints made by or about you relating to the website.
    We will not without your express consent provide your personal information to any third parties for the purpose of direct marketing.
  4. Other disclosures
    In addition to the disclosures reasonably necessary for the purposes identified elsewhere in this privacy policy, we may disclose information about you:
    (a) to the extent that we are required to do so by law;
    (b) in connection with any legal proceedings or prospective legal proceedings;
    (c) in order to establish, exercise or defend our legal rights (including providing information to others for the purposes of fraud prevention and reducing credit risk); and
    (d) to the purchaser (or prospective purchaser) of any business or asset which we are (or are contemplating) selling.
    Except as provided in this privacy policy, we will not provide your information to third parties.
  5. International data transfers
    Information that we collect may be stored and processed in and transferred between any of the countries in which we operate in order to enable us to use the information in accordance with this privacy policy.
  6. Security of your personal data
    We will take reasonable technical and organisational precautions to prevent the loss, misuse or alteration of your personal information. Data transmission over the public internet carries inherent security risks, and we cannot guarantee the security of data during transmission to or from our website.
    You are responsible for keeping your password and user details confidential. We will not ask you for your password.
  7. Policy amendments
    We may update this privacy policy from time-to-time by posting a new version on our website. You should check this page occasionally to ensure you are happy with any changes. We may also notify you of changes to our privacy policy by email.
  8. Your rights
    You may instruct us to provide you with any personal information we hold about you. Provision of such information may be subject to the payment of a fee (currently fixed at £10.00).
  9. Third party websites
    The website contains links to other websites. We are not responsible for the privacy policies or practices of third party websites.
  10. Updating information
    Please let us know if the personal information which we hold about you needs to be corrected or updated.
  11. Contact
    If you have any questions about this privacy policy or our treatment of your personal data, please write to us by email: info [at]
    This privacy policy is based on a template created and distributed by
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© 2014 Sandbag Climate Campaign CIC
Registered as a Community Interest Company in England & Wales: Company No. 6714443
Trading Address: 40 Bermondsey Street, London, UK, SE1 3UD
Registered Address: BWB Secretarial, 10 Queen Street Place, London EC4R 1BE