by Prajakt Samant and Simone Goligorsky

The UK’s Financial Services Authority (FSA) published a Consultation Paper (Consultation) on March 15, 2012 detailing its proposals for authorization and supervision of firms intending to bid for emission allowances under Phase Three of the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS).  Phase Three covers the period of 2013-2020 and marks the final phase of the EU’s strategic commitment to a 20 percent reduction in carbon emissions from the levels in the 1990s.

The purpose of the Consultation is to set out the circumstances in which bidding for emissions allowances becomes subject to FSA regulation following amendments to current regulations.  It offers a preliminary guide for firms looking to bid for emissions allowances with a view to allowing as much time as possible for applications for permission to be processed.  The first auctions are not expected until autumn 2012, however the European Commission (EC) may choose to commence auctions on its central platform as early as June 2012.

The UK (alongside Germany and Poland) has opted to host a national platform for EU ETS auctions.  This right is enabled under the Regulated Auction Platform Regulations 2011, which creates in the national platform a Regulated Auction Platform and in turn, a new body subject to FSA supervision.  Bidders will have the choice of two types of emission product available for auction: a two-day spot and a five-day future.  The choice of emission product will play a role in determining whether or not a firm will be subject to FSA regulation.  Amongst others, investment firms and credit institutions are most likely to require FSA authorization to undertake auctioning activities.

Changes to the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (Regulated Activities) Order 2001 will establish bidding as a new regulated activity, therefore, firms will still be required to make a further application to the FSA even if they currently have permission to carry out existing FSA regulated activities.  It is not, however, anticipated that any variation of a firm’s existing permissions would be unduly complex.  This would be the case unless the FSA considers that the proposed bidding activities will pose any material risk to the firm’s business, since the FSA is of the view that the newly created bidding activity is similar to certain existing regulated activities.

The FSA invites comments by April 19, 2012 with the intention to finalize the proposals set out in the Consultation through rules which are due to be published in late May 2012.  A policy statement and feedback on any responses will be published shortly thereafter.

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