CO2 Abatement in the UK Power Sector: Evidence from the EU ETS Trial Period

Meghan McGuinness and A. Denny Ellerman


This paper provides an empirical assessment of CO2 emissions abatement in the UK power sector during the trial period of the EU ETS. Using an econometrically estimated model of fuel switching, it separates the impacts of changes in relative fuel prices and changes in the EUA price on the utilization and emissions of coal and natural gas-fired generating units. We find clear statistical evidence that the CO2 price did impact dispatch decisions, resulting in natural gas utilization that was from 19% to 24% higher and coal utilization that was 16% to 18% lower than would have otherwise occurred in 2005 and 2006. Abatement as a result of fuel switching in the power sector is estimated to have been between 13 million and 21 million tons of CO2 in 2005 and 14 and 21 million tons in 2006.