New Initiatives Give Hope to a Carbon Market Facing Challenges

May 30, 2012

World Bank releases State and Trends of the Carbon Market report 2012

COLOGNE, GERMANY, May 30, 2012 – The total value of the carbon market grew by 11 percent in 2011, to $176 billion, and transaction volumes reached a new high of 10.3 billion tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) according to a new report from the World Bank.
According to State and Trends of the Carbon Market 2012 this growth took place in the face of economic turbulence, growing long-term oversupply in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) and plummeting carbon prices.
The report, released here at the Carbon Expo in Cologne, describes how even as prices declined, the value of the global carbon market increased in 2011, driven predominantly by a robust growth in financially motivated transactions. By far, the largest segment of the carbon market was that of EU Allowances (EUAs), valued at $148 billion. There was also a substantial increase in the volume of secondary Kyoto offsets (which grew by 43 percent, to 1.8 billion tons of CO2e, valued at US$23 billion) fueled by increased liquidity in the Certified Emission Reduction (CER) market and in the nascent secondary Emission Reduction Unit (ERU) market. Following the same pattern observed in previous years, the global carbon market in 2011 was primarily driven by the EU ETS.
With the end of the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol in 2012, the value of the pre-2013 primary CER, ERU and AAU markets declined once again in 2011. Not surprisingly, however, the market is starting to look beyond 2012 and consequently the post-2012 primary CDM market increased by a robust 63 percent, to US$2 billion, despite depressed prices and limited long-term-visibility. Although China remained the largest source of contracted CERs, African countries – largely bypassed in the pre-2013 market – emerged stronger in 2011 and accounted for 21 percent of post-2012 CERs contracted during the year.
Against this backdrop, several new domestic and regional carbon market initiatives gained traction in both developed and developing economies in 2011. Five new jurisdictions passed legislation adopting cap-and-trade schemes.
“It is heartening to see that, while leading economies continue to experience difficulties and the carbon market faces major challenges, we see increasing interest in, and support for, new market-based mechanisms to mitigate climate change in the long term,” said Joëlle Chassard, Manager of the Carbon Finance Unit of the World Bank.
The Australian Parliament passed the Clean Energy Act, the California Air Resources Board adopted a cap-and-trade regulation, and Québec adopted its own cap-and-trade program. The province is now working toward linking it with California’s starting in 2013. Last month, both Mexico and the Republic of Korea passed comprehensive climate bills, laying the foundation for future market-based mechanisms.
“Together, these initiatives will drive substantial resources towards low-carbon investments and they have the potential to unleash a truly transformational carbon market, in support of a global solution to the climate challenge,” said Alexandre Kossoy, Senior Financial Specialist, World Bank Carbon Finance Unit.

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