Emerging out of thin air, it has already surpassed solar and wind as the largest cleantech industry. Carbon credits were worth a staggering $63 billion in 2007 and $59 billion in the first half of 2008 alone.
Europe has dominating the carbon market since its creation less than five years ago. EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) was responsible for 70% of the trading in the first half of this year, totaling $47 billion. This dollar amount is likely to increase as the cost of carbon credits soars and with the inclusion of aviation emissions in 2012.
Obviously an industry of this amount of rapid growth opens many business opportunities. Companies are needed to provide verified emissions offsets, energy efficiency audits, greenhouse gas emission audits, and to design carbon software. This industry has gained considerable interest from venture capitalists.
Carbonetworks of Victoria, British Columbia provides software to evaluate carbon footprints and reduction options for businesses, governments, project developers, and consultants. They are located in one of the few areas in North America with a carbon tax. They recently announced the first close of a $5 million Series A round from NGEN Partners.
CarbonFlow of San Francisco is developing software to lower the time and cost of creating carbon credits. They raised $2.9 million in the first round of funding from OVP Venture Partners, Meridian Energy, and Clean Pacific Ventures. CarbonFlow partnered with Det Norske Veritas of Norway for developing and marketing their system.
The infrastructure isn’t fully in place to support such a large industry and business opportunities are plentiful. If the U.S. and China create large-scale carbon trading systems, the sky is the limit for growth in the carbon trading industry.
Although it is great to see action being taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, carbon credits can be a way for an organization to throw money at a problem instead of taking action to reduce their own carbon footprint of their operations. The effectiveness of carbon markets has been questioned, yet this industry doesn’t seem to be going anywhere any time soon. Both McCain and Obama support a cap and trade system for the U.S.
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Sarah Lozanova is passionate about the new green economy and renewable energy. Her experience includes work with small-scale solar energy installations and utility-scale wind farms. She earned an MBA in sustainable management from the Presidio Graduate School and is a co-founder of Trees Across the Miles, an urban reforestation initiative. When she can escape the internet vortex, she enjoys playing in the forest, paddling down rivers, or twisting into yoga poses.