How is the EU CBAM calculated?

Explore CarbonChain's tools to help importers and installations get their EU CBAM and UK CBAM calculations right for reporting and prepare for the costs of the 2026 certificates.

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How much will the CBAM carbon tariff cost you?

CBAM Estimator

See how the CBAM mechanism could affect your imports...

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The above figures are based on average emissions data for steel and aluminum. Need more accurate cost estimates of CBAM certificates for your specific product imports?
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About these calculations

The figures provided by the interactive CarbonChain CBAM Certificate Estimator (BETA) are estimated potential certificate prices. These are based on tonnage traded, emissions factors in the CarbonChain database and the difference between the EU ETS and the carbon pricing scheme in that non-EU country*.

  • Estimates are based on best-available data, including an independent database of emissions factors maintained by CarbonChain.
  • The cost of a CBAM certificate from 2026 will be tied to the EU ETS market price, averaged on a weekly basis. The CarbonChain CBAM Certificate Estimator uses the average EU ETS price for end of November 2022 (83.5 EUR).
  • The tool is based on 100% of emissions being priced, once the EU ETS free allowances are phased out.

This tool only includes direct emissions, in line with the official CBAM regulation (16 May 2023). Previously, it included direct and indirect emissions in line with the CBAM regulation.

*If a country has its own carbon pricing scheme equivalent to the EU ETS, the cost of the CBAM certificate will be the EU ETS price minus the non-EU scheme price. The European Commission has not yet released details of which countries’ carbon pricing schemes will be considered equivalent. The CarbonChain CBAM Certificate Estimator uses best-available data and assumptions to factor in this calculation (including carbon pricing schemes set to be implemented by 2026).

How to calculate emissions for CBAM reporting

Installations should calculate their emissions according to the methodology approved by the EU and report them to importers.

There are three overarching steps:

  1. Draw a system boundary around your production process to determine what is included and excluded from your calculations
  2. Gather annual consumption values, and link them to emissions (direct and indirect if applicable)
  3. Divide total emissions by total production to get your direct and indirect emission factors

EU CBAM calculation example; a detailed step by step example of calculating steel slab emissions
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Get a step-by-step example of calculating CBAM emissions for steel slab, with diagrams.
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How to prepare for the CBAM certificate price markups

When the EU CBAM's carbon levy comes into effect in 2026, importers will need to purchase CBAM certificates (one per tonne of reported emissions). The certificate price will be tied to the EU ETS carbon price.

Importers will be able to use default emissions factors (provided by the European Council) or primary emissions data when reporting emissions for CBAM-covered goods.

Using default factors could be more expensive than using primary data, if your imported goods are relatively lower-carbon. This is because:

The European Council will add a markup to CBAM certificates where default factors are used

Default factors will be based on worst-performing production assets in the relevant country.

To avoid the markup and reduce the potential cost of certificates, importers should:

Prepare for accurate CBAM reporting based on their specific suppliers and assets.

Find opportunities to reduce emissions (and reduce the cost of certificates) ahead of time.

Related Resources


Engage suppliers or pay the price: Importers must act now to avoid CBAM fines

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EU CBAM excludes indirect emissions — at what cost?

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Take control of your net-zero transition with CarbonChain

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