Emissions Trading System or Scheme – Eurocrats confuse

two people standing on euro symbol



A sorry tale of confusion highlights an excellent example of the use or misuse of language by the bureaucrats at the European Commission.

Over the past few days there has been much debate here at ICIS about the correct way of expressing the European Union’s “ETS”. Having referred to it in an article as the “Emissions Trading Scheme”, our US editor checked the Europa site and found press releases using both terms.

In the US the word “scheme” has negative connotations such as the word “scheming” would have in the UK and other English speaking countries.

The confusion deepened when we spoke to the Commission’s environment press officer, Lena De Visscher, who initially told us the ETS has been known as the “Scheme” for a couple of years.

Later, however, the plot thickened when Lena clarified what she’d said: “In fact it’s a bit more complicated I discovered when checking: legally it is still Scheme, so even in the revised directive it is called Scheme. However, for clarity’s sake we started end 2005 calling it System and this is the word used in all texts except legal texts.”

For anyone aware of the ETS, this is plain folly. I don’t know anyone who calls this a “System” but our beloved Eurocrats have taken it upon themselves to change the name without telling anyone about it. Even my colleagues at ICIS Heren, which publishes a daily carbon report, refer to this as the “Scheme”.

Now us British love to bash the EU with its “barmy bureaucrats” and this, to me, is on a par almost with the famous EU bendy banana regulation. UK tabloid newspapers gleefully reported on Commission Regulation (EC) 2257/94 which stated that bananas must be “free from malformation or abnormal curvature”. “Extra class” bananas must be straight as a die, but Class 1 bananas can have “slight defects of shape”, and Class 2 bananas can have full-on “defects of shape”.

There is a whole host of apocryphal stories about barmy rules which, the tabloids claim, are ruining our great British way of life.

How about rules which some claimed would stop us being able to buy a pint of milk (rather, a liter), and prevent us asking for a pound of tomatoes (only by the kilo you understand).

We are also under pressure to stop using the mile, acre and ounce. In 2005 the Sun newspaper reported that miserable European bureaucrats wanted to force barmaids to cover up their cleavage due to the risk of skin cancer from exposure to the sun.

Thank God that ruling never saw the light of day.

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