Most critics of emission trading schemes argue that they do not solve the problem. Pollution permits allow people to do just that, pollute. Well figures from the EU show what a sham Europe’s emission trading scheme (ETS) is.

New figures show that the ETS scheme failed to deliver the promised curbs in pollution and that the biggest polluters pumped more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere in 2006 than during the previous year.

Barbara Helfferich, environment spokeswoman for the European Commission, tried to play down the figures saying the scheme will prove effective during its second phase of life from 2008-12. She said: “There will be investment into more effective technologies and those companies that move earlier will have advantages.”

Mahi Sideridou, EU climate policy director for Greenpeace, disagrees: “The system is pointless if it doesn’t deliver reductions. It is like Monopoly for emissions.”