Sunday, May 27, 2007

Carbon Trading Mechanism

I was asked to explain something about carbon trading by Vivek sometime back. Here I take a shot at it.

Emissions trading is an administrative approach used to control pollution by providing economic incentives for achieving reductions in the emissions of pollutants. The development of a carbon project that provides a reduction in Greenhouse Gas emissions is a way by which participating entities may generate tradeable carbon credits. Say a company in India can prove it has prevented the emission of x-tonnes of carbon, it can sell this much amount of points (or carbon credits) to a company in say, the US which has been emitting carbons. The World Bank has built itself a role in this market as a referee, broker and macro-manager of international fund flows.

A central authority (in our case CDM India, an authority under the Ministry of Environment and Forests) sets a limit or cap on the amount of a pollutant that can be emitted in a country. Companies or other groups that emit the pollutant are given credits (CERs – Certified Emission Reductions) or allowances which represent the right to emit a specific amount. The total amount of credits cannot exceed the cap, limiting total emissions to that level. Companies that pollute beyond their allowances must buy credits from those who pollute less than their allowances or face heavy penalties. This transfer is referred to as a trade. In effect, the buyer is being fined for polluting, while the seller is being rewarded for having reduced emissions. Thus companies that can easily reduce emissions will do so and those for which it is harder will buy credits which reduce greenhouse gasses at the lowest possible cost to society. Countries which have companies having higher credits will enable them to sell the credits in the international market.

There are a number of international markets -- most notably the EU, with its European Union Greenhouse Gas Emission Trading Scheme (EU ETS) that began its operations on 1 January 2005. Companies which accumulate CERs sell them there in this market to interested buyers. The international market for CERs has crossed the $30 bn mark in 2006, largely driven by the trading of EUA (European Union Allowances). EUA are the equivalent of CERs (Certified Emission Reductions).

China is the largest seller in the CDM market with about 61% share, followed by India with 12% share.

So far, India approved about 513 (as of April 2007) projects with a potential to generate about 355 mn CERs (Certified Emission Reductions). Each CER can trade for anywhere between $6 and $16 in the international market.

1 Comment:

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Dear Friends,
After successful pre-emptive analysis of Suzlon and the Telecom stocks in last few weeks we have received requests from patrons to keep quoting the misquoted stories in the Indian stock market. Almost everyone who has been around knows the kind of pumping and dumping carried about by certain segment of the markets. Henceforth I would try and write about such stories on a frequent basis, which have either been misquoted or have been quoted on a wrong pitch by the market participants. Do watch the Misquoted section on a frequent basis henceforth.
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