This paper examines the ways in which the EU greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions trading system (ETS) affected the design of similar programs in North America. It investigates the conditions under which EU pioneering policy can play a role in extra-EU jurisdictions’ policy-making. The empirical investigation finds that the EU’s promotion of emissions trading was successful to some extent. The EU did not influence or trigger the inception of GHG emissions trading programs in North America. The EU ETS, however, played a role in the design process of the North American programs. Actors learned from elements of the EU system. Domestic North American factors were the triggers and drivers of the agenda-setting stage and dominated the policy adoption stage while the EU ETS significantly contributed to the policy formulation processes. The EU ETS played a role at the technical level rather than at the level of political deliberations and decision-making. The EU’s policy promotion efforts depended on the demand in North America. The resonance and receptiveness in North America were decisive factors. The EU was not an importunate persuader. Learning from the ETS was to a significant part demand-driven.