Over the past decade, carbon trading has emerged as the policy instrument of choice in the industrialized world to address global climate change. In this article I argue that a transnational business coalition, representing mostly energy firms and energy-intensive manufacturers, actively promoted the global rise of carbon trading. In this process, business was able to draw on the support of government allies and business-oriented environmental groups, particularly in the UK and the US. Alongside its allies, the coalition had pivotal influence in the internationalization of carbon trading through the Kyoto Protocol, in the U-turn of the EU from skeptic to frontrunner on carbon trading and in the re-import of carbon trading to the US. While business was not able to prevent mandatory emission controls, it was able to critically affect the regulatory style of climate policy in favor of low-cost, market-based options.
* I would like to thank the three anonymous reviewers for valuable comments on the draft version of this article. I would also like to gratefully acknowledge funding from the American Council on Germany the Consortium on Energy Policy Research at Harvard and the Fritz Thyssen Foundation.