Climate change is a very important environmental, social and economic global problem. During the last century, the Earth’s average surface temperature rose by around 0.6°C. Evidence is getting stronger that most of the global warming that has occurred over the last 50 years is attributable to human activities. Human activities that contribute to climate change include the burning of fossil fuels because it causes emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), which is the main gas responsible for climate change. In order to bring climate change to a halt, global greenhouse gas emissions would have to be reduced significantly. The European Union (EU) is engaged in international efforts to combat climate change. The EU is also taking serious steps to address its own greenhouse gas emissions. In March 2000 the Commission launched the European Climate Change Programme (ECCP). The ECCP led to the adoption of a range of new policies and measures, among which the EU’s emissions trading scheme, which started its operation on 1 January 2005, will play a key role. In this paper, we want to shortly explain the mechanisms of the Kyoto Protocol, paying particular attention to the Emission Trading. We want to illustrate the European directive and the consequent Italian one: we will explain the Italian implementing norms that have been emitted for the period 2005–2007 and 2008–2012. Limiting then the analysis to the sector of electricity production, we want to show some examples of Italian power plants: we will illustrate them and we will estimate their CO2 emissions (according to a typical annual operation). The emission levels will be compared with CO2 quotas assigned in the period 2008–2012: these results will be commented in terms of the unavoidable economic implications that such allocation will involve. The CO2 quotas, assigned to Italy already for the period 2005–2007, involve a large control of these emissions: such situation will be reflected unavoidably on the increase of the kWh cost (it is already particularly high in comparison with the European average because of the particular energetic mix on which our electricity production is based): these effects could be particularly heavy for the competitiveness of our production system and for the modernization and the widening of our power plant park.

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