The price of carbon increased from 7.8 euros to 23.4 euros per tonne of CO2 in a year after the European Union introduced a reform of the carbon market, meaning greenhouse gas emissions have become three times more expensive.
Based on the “polluter-payer” principle, the carbon market regulates greenhouse gas emissions by fixing a maximum limit of CO2 emissions, which is reduced year by year.
Large companies in the chemical, steel and cement sectors receive their free quota of CO2 emissions every year, according to a repartition plan. If they go over their quota, they have to pay for supplementary emission rights. Belgium reduced free emission rights to 32 million tonnes of CO2 last year.
Energy companies haven’t been given free quotas to cover their emissions so have had to pay for all their emissions by buying permits themselves.
The energy sector covers the higher price of CO2 emissions by charging their customers more, according to Essenscia, the Belgian Federation for the chemical industry and life sciences. “Families and businesses end up footing the bill”, meaning the price of CO2 emissions has directly affected energy prices. An average family paid around 26.2 euros in CO2 costs last year, according to De Tijd’s calculations. That’s an increase of 16.4 euros compared to the previous year.
Belgian authorities received 382 million euros in payments due to the amount of CO2 emitted last year, 237 million euros more than in 2017. The sum invested in the climate policy is higher because at least half of this revenue has to be reinvested in measures to protect the environment.