International Emissions Trading Association (IETA)

The International Emissions Trading Association (IETA) is a non-profit business organization created in June 1999 to establish a functional international framework for trading in greenhouse gas emission reductions. A non-profit business organization and the leading voice on emissions trading, whose goal is to ensure that the objectives of the UN Convention on Climate Change and ultimately, climate protection, are met. IETA upholds its principles by acting as a think tank, a market promoter and a body that is able to drive market standards. IETA works for the development of an active,global GHG market, consistent across national boundaries. The organization has over 180 members globally.

Company details

24, rue Merle d’Aubigné , Genève , CH-1207 Switzerland

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Business Type:
Professional association
Industry Type:
Air and Climate
Market Focus:
Globally (various continents)
Year Founded:

The International Emissions Trading Association (IETA) is a nonprofit business organization created in June 1999 to establish a functional international framework for trading in greenhouse gas emission reductions.

Our membership includes leading international companies from across the carbon trading cycle. IETA members seek to develop an emissions trading regime that results in real and verifiable greenhouse gas emission reductions, while balancing economic efficiency with environmental integrity and social equity.

As of April 2011, IETA comprises more than 155 international companies from OECD and non-OECD countries. IETA has formed several partnerships including, among others, the World Bank, Eurelectric, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and the California Climate Action Registry, the Edison Electric Institute (EEI), the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and the San Francisco Carbon Collaborative.

In June 1999, a visionary group of international companies and business associations founded IETA.  Their objective was to build on the economic mechanisms created by the Kyoto Protocol in order to achieve climate objectives with minimal economic harm.

The group included Transalta, BP, ABB, Rio Tinto, Natsource, Mitsubishi, KPMG, Norsk Hydro and Ecosecurities.  The associations included the Emissions Trading Association of Australia, and the International Primary Aluminium Association. United Nations Conference on Trade And Development (UNCTAD) provided the first secretariat and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) provided wise counsel and, more practically, the first headquarters accommodation.  The Earth Council provided strong support and impetus to the founding of IETA.

The first Chairman of IETA’s Board came from the Latin American Trading Association.  IETA convened its first formal meeting at the International Petroleum Exchange in London.  It established its legal presence in a headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.  This offered close proximity to what was then the Headquarters of the UN Climate Change Secretariat as well as UNCTAD and the WBCSD.

IETA benefitted from the success of other organizations that had gone before it.  The Emissions Marketing Association (now the Environmental Markets Association) had existed for some years to support participants in the US SO2 and NOX programs.  Similarly, in the UK, the Emissions Trading Group was founded in the late 1990s as a consultative body that assisted the UK Government as it put together its pioneering greenhouse gas trading system.
Building on these national experiences, IETA became the first international, multi-sectoral, purely business group devoted to pricing and trading greenhouse gas reductions.  From the start, it had a strong focus on the Kyoto mechanisms.  It helped members using, hosting and investing in Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and Joint Implementation (JI) projects, disseminating information and promoting development and reform, over many years.  IETA has been an accredited observer body for the UN climate negotiations since its earliest days – providing detailed insights to members of policy developments and potential market impacts.

When trading in greenhouse gases was little known or understood, IETA acted as a news gatherer and distributor and assisted in developing trading clearance procedures.  As the market matured, commercial entities took on these roles.  IETA began focusing as a forum for policy dialogue, professional development and market readiness activities.  It became the premier international advocacy voice for emissions markets.

With the emergence of the EU emissions trading system, IETA established a branch in Brussels in 2007 to engage in policy and market development.  As the EU market matured, IETA convened numerous forums for market participants to hone skills, develop business relationships and analyze policy impacts.  IETA gained recognition for sponsoring development of the first model contracts for the EU, CDM and other markets that emerged, tapping the expertise of its wide membership.

IETA’s network extended to North America with the founding of an office in Washington, DC in 2007 and in Toronto, Canada in 2010.  Driven by emerging policies at the state and provincial levels, companies in these jurisdictions sought to benefit from the global experience in carbon market solutions – and to share those experiences in the policy arena.

IETA has a proud history of convening carbon market participants.  In 2004, IETA joined the World Bank and Koelnmesse in co-founding Carbon Expo, the first and still the largest and most authoritative annual global carbon trade fair and conference.  IETA built on this experience to co-organize regional Carbon Forums in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean and North America.  This series is conducted in partnership with the UNFCCC, other UN bodies and international and regional development banks. It offers IETA members platforms to reach new opportunities around the world.

In 2011, IETA joined forces with the International Carbon Reduction and Offsets Alliance (ICROA) in London.  ICROA members sought to improve performance in offering voluntary market services through use of a code of conduct, against which the members are audited annually.

In 2012, IETA launched the Business Partnership for Market Readiness, with the objective of broadening business awareness of emissions trading tools and techniques in new emerging markets.  It has provided training to professionals in China, South Korea, Mexico, South Africa and Kazahkstan.

IETA has remained true to its Mission through highs and lows in market activity – and through political shifts and economic shocks.  It continues to aim for excellence in harnessing market forces to deliver climate protection – to address climate challenges with market solutions.

IETA is dedicated to:

  • the objectives of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and ultimately climate protection;
  • the establishment of effective market-based trading systems for greenhouse gas emissions by businesses that are demonstrably fair, open, efficient, accountable and consistent across national boundaries; and
  • maintaining societal equity and environmental integrity while establishing these systems.

Goals and Objectives

IETA works for:

  • the development of an active, global greenhouse gas market, consistent across national boundaries and involving all flexibility mechanisms: the Clean Development Mechanism, Joint Implementation and emissions trading;
  • the creation of systems and instruments that will ensure effective business participation.

To be the premier voice for the business community on emissions trading, the objectives for the organization are to:

  • promote an integrated view of the emissions trading system as a solution to Climate Change;
  • participate in the design and implementation of national and international rules and guidelines; and
  • provide the most up-to-date and credible source of information on emissions trading and greenhouse gas market activity.

 To achieve its goals, IETA focuses on the following Work Program areas:

  • Develop components of the GHG market and trading systems. IETA has established a number of Working Groups that meet in workshops and seminars on topics that include accounting, taxation, trade agreements, registries, validation and verification, as well as issues in the CDM. IETA continues to map down initiatives that work in developing components of the GHG markets to help create a functioning GHG market.
  • Promote market mechanisms and participation in GHG markets. There continues to be the need for promoting market mechanisms and trading as one of the solutions available to businesses in order to minimize societal impact, within the framework of sustainable development. This includes substantial efforts, such as GHG Market Fora in non- Annex I countries, the Annual IETA Forum on the state and development of the GHG Market, and the Carbon Expo Fair and Conference.
  • Development of a global GHG market. A critical element in IETA's work remains the linking of trading regimes among Annex I countries, and its significance for the GHG market. Another important issue is that of responses of business when operating in such a diverse environment. Cooperation with WBCSD, WEF and other organizations that have complementary roles must play an important role.
  • Capacity Building. IETA develops and delivers courses on validation and verification based on the Validation & Verification Manual being developed with the World Bank as well as Workshops on Contracts for the CDM.

Emissions trading is one of the principal policy instruments available to manage industrial greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by encouraging operational excellence and the deployment of new and existing technologies. Emissions trading is effective because;

  • It is economically efficient.
  • It is specifically designed to deliver an environmental objective.
  • It delivers a clear price signal.

A central objective of climate change policy should be the efficient direction of capital within the market towards low and zero carbon emission investment. To achieve this an emissions market requires:

  • Scarcity of emission allowances to create the price signal;
  • Long-term clarity and predictability of rules and targets.

In the longer term the market should grow and evolve to provide wide sectoral, geographic and GHG coverage, leading to a global trading regime. This will require:

  • Similar rules and enforcement within an array of approaches;
  • Mechanisms to link different approaches;
  • An offset mechanism based on verifiable emission reduction projects and programmes.
    • Offset based mechanisms offer the opportunity for countries yet to introduce an allowance based approach to participate in the market.
    • Offset mechanisms should be created through a transparent process that recognizes business decision-making realities and is both environmentally effective and economically efficient.
    • The use of offset mechanisms should not be unduly constrained.

IETA aims to ensure that system design, implementation and review delivers a functioning, efficient market. Key aspects of our approach include:

  • Transparency of design and operation;
  • Sufficient scale to operate and deliver emissions reduction;
  • No artificial barriers to access or participation;
  • Low transaction costs and limited bureaucracy;
  • Delivery without intervention (i.e. no price caps or price floors, no artificial supply barriers such as limits on the use of reduction units from projects).
  • Adequate offset availability;
  • A fair and equitable allowance allocation process that does not withdraw capital from the firms and industries covered by the scheme, nor grants windfall profits.
  • Recognition of the important link between the holder of allowances and the initiation of actions that create the reductions.
  • The need for trading systems to recognise all verifiable key abatement technologies, including Carbon Capture and Storage.
  • That the release of market data is well managed.

 IETA upholds its principles by acting as a think tank, a convenor of dialogues, an advocate, a market promoter and acting as a body that is able to drive market standards.