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Green to Gold: Carbon Trading in Europe

Neil Baker | April 29, 2008

Some day, the United States may adopt a regulatory system to cap greenhouse gas emissions and let companies trade credits to emit such pollution. Until then, advocates for corporate sustainability must look to Europe to get a sense of how such a cap-and-trade system might work.

Since the European Union launched a cap-and-trade approach to emission reductions in 2005, carbon dealing has become a multibillion-dollar industry there; indeed, it dominates the world’s fast-growing carbon market. Last year, for example, global carbon trading increased a whopping 80 percent from 2006, with a $60 billion price tag, according to Point Carbon, a firm that provides market analysis.

The EU’s Emissions Trading System (ETS) has played a particularly important role, accounting for 62 percent of the world market by volume of carbon trading and 70 percent by financial value.

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