World Bank’s 2024 Carbon Pricing Report: Progress, Challenges, and Future Directions

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SAN JOSE – Carbon pricing has emerged as one of the most potent tools for combating climate change, incentivizing reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions globally. The “State and Trends of Carbon Pricing 2024” report by the World Bank provides a comprehensive overview of the current landscape, highlighting the significant progress made over the past decade, the challenges that persist, and the future trajectory of carbon pricing initiatives worldwide.

Growth and Adoption of Carbon Pricing

In the last ten years, the coverage of global emissions by carbon pricing mechanisms has expanded remarkably. In 2014, only 7% of global emissions were covered by carbon pricing instruments. Today, nearly a quarter of global emissions are under some form of carbon pricing, reflecting a growing acknowledgment of the importance of these tools in the fight against climate change.

Figure 1: ETS and Carbon Tax Uptake by Countries’ Income Group Over Time (2005-2024)

The report notes that as of 2024, there are 75 national carbon pricing instruments in operation. This includes recent implementations in countries like Australia, Hungary, Slovenia, Taiwan, China, and several sub-national schemes in Mexico. Middle-income countries such as Brazil, India, Chile, Colombia, and Türkiye are also making notable strides towards implementing emissions trading schemes (ETSs).

Despite this progress, the report underscores that higher pricing and wider coverage are essential to unlock the full potential of carbon pricing. Currently, the ambition of most carbon pricing policies falls short of what is needed to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement. The average price of carbon remains below the levels required to achieve significant emission reductions.

Figure 2: Map of Carbon Taxes and ETSs

Revenue Generation and Utilization

One of the positive trends highlighted in the report is the increase in revenue generated from carbon pricing. In 2023, revenues from carbon pricing instruments exceeded $100 billion for the first time, driven by high prices in the European Union and a temporary shift in some German ETS revenues from 2022 to 2023. These revenues are crucial as they fund climate and nature-related programs, thus reinforcing the environmental benefits of carbon pricing.

Figure 3: Evolution of Global Revenues Over Time

The majority of jurisdictions use these revenues to support climate-related projects or bolster general budgets. For example, the EU requires member states to allocate at least half of their ETS revenues to climate and energy purposes, resulting in significant investments in green transport, energy efficiency, and renewable energy projects. However, the contribution of carbon pricing revenue to national budgets remains relatively small, indicating room for fiscal reforms to maximize the benefits of these instruments.

Figure 4: Revenue Usage from Carbon Taxes and ETSs in 2022

Challenges and Implementation Gaps

While carbon pricing has seen considerable uptake, the report points to an implementation gap between countries’ commitments and the policies enacted. This gap is particularly evident in the variation of carbon prices across different ETSs and carbon taxes. Over the past year, ten ETSs, including major systems in the EU, New Zealand, and the Republic of Korea, experienced price decreases, which can undermine the long-term price signal needed to drive investments in low-carbon technologies.

Moreover, the expansion of carbon pricing coverage has slowed. The share of global GHG emissions covered by carbon pricing remains stable at around 24%, with new implementations only partially offsetting reductions in emissions in existing systems. The report emphasizes that even with new carbon pricing instruments in countries like Brazil, India, and Türkiye, global coverage is unlikely to exceed 30% in the near term.

The Future of Carbon Pricing

The report identifies several emerging trends that could shape the future of carbon pricing. These include the integration of carbon pricing into broader economic policies, the development of sector-specific initiatives like the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA), and the implementation of carbon border adjustment mechanisms (CBAMs).

Figure 5: Indicative Estimates of the Potential GHG Emissions Covered by Different Carbon Pricing Instruments and International Initiatives

The EU’s CBAM, which started its transitional phase in 2023, represents a significant shift in the global carbon pricing landscape. By applying a carbon price on imports equivalent to the EU ETS, the CBAM aims to level the playing field between domestic producers and international competitors, potentially driving other countries to adopt similar measures.

Despite these advancements, the report stresses the need for increased ambition and stronger political commitment to achieve meaningful progress. The development of robust global frameworks and the sharing of best practices are crucial to drive the necessary level of ambition and ensure the effectiveness of carbon pricing mechanisms.

The “State and Trends of Carbon Pricing 2024” report paints a picture of both progress and persistent challenges in the realm of carbon pricing. While significant strides have been made, particularly in expanding coverage and generating revenue, the current pace of implementation and the level of ambition are insufficient to meet the Paris Agreement goals. As countries prepare to submit new nationally determined contributions in 2025, the report calls for immediate and sustained focus on implementing more ambitious carbon pricing policies to decisively bend the emissions curve and safeguard a livable planet.

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