Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble
According to a brilliant article by Mark Schapiro in Harper’s magazine carbon trading is now the fastest growing commodities market on earth. Since Kyoto signatories bought in to the cap and trade concept in 2005, there have been more than $300bn carbon transactions, prompting several investment banks, including Goldman Sachs and Barclays, to set up their own carbon trading desks. But that’s just the start. If President Obama and his supporters can institute a cap-and-trade system in the United States – and that’s a big if for this increasingly marooned presidency – demand could explode into a $2 to $3 trillion market.
And here’s the great thing about it. Unlike traditional commodities markets, which will eventually involve delivery to someone in physical form, the carbon market is based on lack of delivery of an invisible substance to no-one. Since the market revolves around creating carbon credits, or finding carbon reduction projects whose benefits can then be sold to those with a surplus of emissions, it is entirely intangible.
“Carbon developers”, many of them employed by large multinationals, travel the world in search of carbon reduction projects to sell, while firms of carbon accountants have been established to verify on the United Nations’ behalf that those reductions are real. The whole thing, though well intentioned, looks wide open to abuse and scams...
Anyone want to buy some lovely tulip bulbs I've got?