Assessing the impact of ETS trading profit on emission abatements based on firm-level transactions

Jianfeng Guo, Fu Gu, Yinping Liu, Xi Liang, Jianlei Mo, Ying Fan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The EU Emission Trading System (ETS) is the oldest and currently the largest carbon market in the world, but its purpose of stimulating carbon emissions via trading profits remains unexamined. Based on the complete firm-level transaction records of the EU ETS Phases I and II, here we show that the participating firms’ trading profits and their emission abatements are positively correlated, and the correlation becomes stronger in Phase II than Phase I. Specifically, we observe that non-linearity exists in the correlation; higher firm-level emission abatements can realize larger trading profits. This pattern affects the market fairness, though it may be helpful to incentivise emission abatements. The correlation is more regulated in Phase II than it is in Phase I, thereby indicating that the Phase II is more mature. We also observe that the state-level abatements are largely driven by industrial giants.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2078 (2020)
JournalNature Communications
Early online date29 Apr 2020
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020


  • carbon market
  • trading profit
  • abatement
  • EU ETS


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