January 11, 2010
I'll sell them mine
I am still flabbergasted that the world, the Europeans in particular, is fixated on the idea of making carbon dioxide a commodity. Of course as we have pointed out before it isn't really carbon dioxide that they are making a commodity but rather the absence of carbon dioxide which they wish to sell back and forth. In an effort to do my part I will sell them all my non carbon emissions at a discount rate. I'll begin by auctioning off all the emissions I will not emit by not driving twenty four hours a day and then we'll work on my non flight time. Always willing to do my part to save the planet.
But seriously, is the EU seriously considering bailing out...uh air.
Should Europe Intervene to Support the Price of Carbon?
The price for emitting carbon in the European Union — already weak because of the recession — fell further in the wake of the Copenhagen climate conference.
Carbon traders had bet that European leaders would tighten emissions quotas during the conference, which would have driven up the price for permits. Disappointed by emissions reduction offers made by China and the United States at the meeting, however — and fearing that tighter quotas would send industries fleeing to less regulated parts of the world — Europe’s leaders backed away from the plan.
But experts say this highlights a fundamental problem in Europe’s carbon market: the price of has never been high enough for long enough to force utilities and factories to invest in new and cleaner equipment — the goal of the system in the first place.
The question now is, should regulators step in to shore up prices?
Faced with the price of carbon drifting even lower in coming months, the European Commission could seek to buy up surplus credits, or to set a minimum price. Some versions of carbon legislation in other parts of the world, including in the United States, would aim to use such a “floor price” to counter volatility and ensure continuing investment in low-carbon technologies and processes.
But the European Commission has said it wants to avoid intervening in the market — not least because it would face continuing pressure to do so again in the future. That could make investors question the fairness and reliability of a market open to political meddling.
And experts now say that the carbon price in coming months will mostly depend on whether coal-dependent industrialized nations like the United States and Australia redouble their efforts to introduce similar systems.
James Emanuel, the commercial director of CantorCO2e, an environmental brokerage based in London, warned last week that if those efforts fail in countries like the United States and Australia, the E.U. will have very little incentive to tighten its caps on emitters, and prices could continue to languish at the current low levels.
“There are only voluntary commitments in the Copenhagen Accord, and it was particularly disappointing to see the time frame for a legally binding deal stripped from the final draft,” Mr. Emanuel said.
“That leaves the threat hanging over the price of carbon because of real uncertainty that we will ever see a single global carbon market to drive cleaner technologies,” he said.