Investment Perspectives on Carbon Trading Systems (ETS)

Lessons from the EU Experience for Asia

The Faculty of Law/Chinese University of HK and the Asia Pacific Centre for Environmental Law, National University of Singapore examine challenges, legal issues and investment perspectives under conditions of different emission trade systems.


Recent years have seen a shift of focus in the development of emissions trading schemes (ETS) to Asia, with the implementation of ETS in China, South Korea, Japan (Tokyo) and Kazakhstan. The use of ETS in Asia follows the adoption of carbon trading as cornerstone of the European Union climate policy.

In theory, carbon trading aims to achieve emission reductions more cost-effectively than traditional regulation and taxation. However, in practice, ETS has so far largely failed to drive low-carbon investments. In the EU, for instance, investors heavily criticize the EU ETS for the volatility and insufficient levels of carbon prices. As result, the EU ETS is undergoing a reform process, with the focus on addressing the obstacles to the implementation of low-carbon investments. Higher and more stable carbon prices are needed to drive the decarbonization of the economy.

In Asia, the relationship and interaction between ETS and low-carbon investments are still largely underexplored in the environmental law. This workshop aims to reflect on the EU experience with the regulation of ETS and low-carbon investment so as to understand the regulatory implications of ETS for low-carbon investments in Asia, and in particular in China. China – the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gas emissions – is in the process of creating a national ETS to stabilize and eventually reduce its carbon emissions. Taking a legal perspective, this conference examines the effectiveness of ETS in stimulating investments in the decarbonization of energy supply in the EU and China. It analyses the regulatory obstacles to the role of ETS as a driver of low-carbon investments. And looks at possible solutions to these obstacles based on a comparative legal approach to climate regulation.

In the one-day workshop, scholars and private sector's representatives from Europe and Asia will have an intensive discussion on the following four themes:

  • "ETS as Driver of Low-carbon Investments? The Experience of the EU ETS"
  • "The ETS and Low-carbon Investments in China: Lessons from the Seven Pilot Schemes"
  • "Conceptualizing “Investment” in the Design of China’s National ETS: Regulatory and Institutional Perspectives"
  • "Low-carbon Investments in the Global Carbon Market"

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Hong Kong SAR
Hong Kong



  • Prof Jolene Lin
    • National University of Singapore
  • Prof Yuhong ZHAO
    • Chinese University of Hong Kong
  • Navraj Singh Ghaleigh
    • University of Edinburgh
  • Prof Benoit Mayer
    • Chinese University of Hong Kong
  • Dr Peter Hefele


Carbon Trading from an Investment Perspective: ETS Experience Sharing between Europe and Asia
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Johannes Vogel

Project manager

Carbon fired power plant KAS RECAP