Emissions trading schemes have gained an important degree of momentum in recent years, rapidly becoming mainstream solutions to deal with the negative environmental consequences of human activity such as pollution and global warming. However there is still little empirical knowledge about what specific kind of work emissions trading schemes do. Using the analytical tools provided by science and technology studies, especially developments studying markets and economic practices, this paper looks to contribute to filling this void by exploring three kinds of work that emissions trading schemes might do: performing a textbook market of emissions permits, performing a civilized market in which a multitude of heterogeneous actors participate and as exemplars of the validity of certain economic knowledge. In order to explore the usability of this conceptualization the paper will then analyze one of earliest concrete implementations of this device: an emissions trading scheme introduced to deal with industrial air pollution in the city of Santiago (Chile) in the early 1990s. Through a historical genealogy, it will show this emissions trading scheme working not mainly as a textbook market, but as a civilized one and as a powerful exemplar that helped to mobilize both command-and-control regulation and neoliberal environmental economics to/from Chile and elsewhere.