Carbon prices fall in wake of Copenhagen

Discussion in 'Economics' started by Tom B, Dec 22, 2009.

  1. Tom B

    Tom B

    Carbon prices fall in wake of Copenhagen

    By Chris Flood and Fiona Harvey

    Published: December 22 2009 02:00 | Last updated: December 22 2009 02:00

    Carbon prices plunged yesterday in the aftermath of the Copenhagen conference on climate change, dealing a blow to the credibility of the European Union's carbon-trading scheme.

    Prices for carbon permits for December 2010 delivery, the benchmark contract for pricing European permits, dropped nearly 10 per cent in early trading, before recovering to end the day 8.3 per cent lower at €12.41.

    Lower prices give companies less incentive to invest in cutting their greenhouse gas output. Analysts estimate that prices of more than €40 a tonne are required to stimulate investment in new low-carbon technologies.

    Carbon traders blamed the price fall on the Copenhagen conference, which produced an accord among the world's biggest developed and developing countries to limit their greenhouse gas emissions, but omitted details on what those limits would be. Governments now have a month to submit formal pledges on how far they will reduce their carbon output.

    "This [accord] is a very disappointing outcome," said Trevor Sikorski, director at Barclays Capital. "I see nothing here that should drive investment in low-carbon technology." He said that it was "bearish for the market and bearish for the world".

    The EU's carbon price was created under the bloc's emissions trading scheme, by which companies in energy-intensive industries are allocated trade-able permits to produce CO 2 . The number of permits issued is gradually ratcheted down, giving companies an incentive to cut their emissions in order to avoid having to buy extra permits from others.

    One reason for yesterday's fall was that the EU did not raise its carbon-cutting targets as part of the Copenhagen accord. Its current target is to slash emissions by 20 per cent by 2020, but this could have been increased to 30 per cent if other countries had agreed a more ambitious deal.

    The higher target would lift carbon prices, as the bloc would have to reduce the number of permits issued. This now looks extremely unlikely, though Gordon Brown, prime minister, said yesterday that he would seek to raise the target in the next month.

    Emmanuel Fages of Société Générale/orbeo said that carbon permit prices could drop as low as €10 in the first quarter of 2010 as market participants, which have been oversupplied with quotas, would know for certain how much carbon had been emitted in 2009.

    The effects were also felt on the smaller market for United Nations-backed carbon credits, issued under the Kyoto protocol to projects that reduce emissions in developing countries.

    Eugen Weinberg, head of commodity research at Commerzbank, said that traders were now looking to the US, where a bill currently before the Senate would bring in a cap-and-trade system similar to Europe's.

    UN agrees reform, Page 10 Lex, Page 16 Commodities, Page 30

    Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2009. You may share using our article tools. Please don't cut articles from and redistribute by email or post to the web.
  2. That "statement" should make for a short-term buying opportunity! :D