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Understanding the explosive trend in EU ETS prices -- fundamentals or speculation?

Marina Friedrich (), Sebastien Fries, Michael Pahle and Ottmar Edenhofer ()

Papers from arXiv.org

Abstract: In 2018, allowance prices in the EU Emission Trading Scheme (EU ETS) experienced a run-up from persistently low levels in previous years. Regulators attribute this to a comprehensive reform in the same year, and are confident the new price level reflects an anticipated tighter supply of allowances. We ask if this is indeed the case, or if it is an overreaction of the market driven by speculation. We combine several econometric methods - time-varying coefficient regression, formal bubble detection as well as time stamping and crash odds prediction - to juxtapose the regulators' claim versus the concurrent explanation. We find evidence of a long period of explosive behaviour in allowance prices, starting in March 2018 when the reform was adopted. Our results suggest that the reform triggered market participants into speculation, and question regulators' confidence in its long-term outcome. This has implications for both the further development of the EU ETS, and the long lasting debate about taxes versus emission trading schemes.

Date: 2019-06, Revised 2020-03
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-ene, nep-env and nep-reg
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