Wednesday, March 10, 2010

EU's 'carbon fat cats' get rich off trading scheme: study

Terra Daily via Agence France-Presse: Europe's system for industrial carbon quotas has enriched the continent's biggest polluters, with ten firms together reaping permits for 2008 alone worth 500 million euros, a new report revealed. Dominated by steel and cement makers, the same "carbon fat cats" stand to collect surplus CO2 permits that -- at current market rates -- could be worth 3.2 billion euros (4.3 billion dollars) by 2012, it said.

This is roughly equivalent to the entire EU investment in renewable energy and clean technology under its economic recovery plan, according to Sandbag, a non-profit group in Britain that analyses carbon market policy.

"Emissions trading is meant to be the central policy for cutting CO2 levels," said Anna Pearson, Sandbag's top policy analyst. "The fact that companies are able to make large sums of money for doing nothing highlights that the trading scheme must be reformed and EU climate change target strengthened."

…Among the top ten beneficiaries, steelmaker ArcelorMittal collected more than 40 percent of the 2008 excess permits, reported Sandbag. French cement giant Lafarge got about 12 percent, with Tata steel group subsidiary Corus and Swedish steel maker SSAB-Svenskt Stal each claiming about 10 percent.

Even if the permits are not directly resold for profit, the value will still remain on the companies' books, rising or falling with the market. Most of the permits were generated simply because the companies were allocated more free permits than they wound up using, according to the report….

Cement factories in Belgium, shot by Jean-Pol Grandmont, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Generic license

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