Carbon Trading to Double in North America This Year

by | Jan 11, 2012

Carbon trading in North America is poised to double this year with the inauguration of carbon markets in California and Quebec, and the total value of the Western Climate Initiative is set to surpass that of the eastern Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, according to Thomson Reuters Point Carbon.

The news service said the volume of permits and credits traded could reach 179 million tons, valued at $782 million. It also said (via Business Green) that the WCI, a market across California and five Canadian provinces, will become the biggest North American market by value. In so doing it will overtake the RGGI, an agreement between nine north-eastern states. Point Carbon predicts that the WCI will distribute 24 million metric tons of allowances later this year in California and Quebec, for use in 2013.

In November it emerged that six U.S. states – New Mexico, Arizona, Washington, Oregon, Montana and Utah – had abandoned the WCI, leaving California as the only remaining state.

As well as pursuing participating in the WCI, California has been actively creating its own cap and trade program. In October, the California Air Resources Board gave its final approval to the system, which sets limits on carbon emissions starting this year, with enforcement starting in 2013.

Point Carbon has also reported that world carbon markets last year shrugged off global economic woes to trade at volumes 19 percent higher than in 2010. About 8 Gt CO2e were traded in compliance markets, compared to 7 Gt in 2010.

But value was up only 4 percent, to €96bn, due to lower prices. By the end of the year, the price per ton of CO2e was higher in the nascent California market than in Europe.

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