CarbonDesk Fails to Get U.K. Help on Stolen Permits

CarbonDesk Ltd., a London-based broker of emission permits, said it received no help from the U.K. government after coming into possession of European Union carbon-dioxide permits stolen from cement maker Holcim Ltd.

The U.K. emissions registry, run by the Environment Agency “just washes their hands on the issue of stolen credits when it would be so easy to put a block on tainted credits,” CarbonDesk Chief Executive Officer Brett Stacey said by e-mail today.

Nathan Fletcher, a spokesman for the Environment Agency, said stolen EU permits are a matter for the European Union. “The security of the carbon market is very important and this period of time will allow registry administrators to address the security of their registry,” he said

The EU has suspended operations at all 30 of the region’s greenhouse-gas emissions registries until at least Jan. 26 and said as many as 2 million European Union carbon allowances may be missing after recent hacking attacks in the bloc’s emissions- trading system.

Traders of emissions permits keep registries, similar to a bank account, through which carbon allowances are transferred. The U.K. registry “has already assessed the risk to U.K. accountholders and concluded that because of the security systems, successful attacks are unlikely,” Fletcher said.

Matching Numbers

CarbonDesk said it received EU permits into its company registry with serial numbers matching some of those reported as stolen from Holcim. The Romanian unit of Jonas, Switzerland- based Holcim said Nov. 30 that about 15 million euros ($20 million) of allowances had been stolen, and it asked the EU to help track them down. CarbonDesk didn’t say how many stolen permits it held.

Registries “need to be proactive in not allowing tainted credits to move through the system,” Stacey said. “This will deter anyone from trying to steal them, as they would then be worthless. Equity markets have been running these systems for years and they have never had to close the exchange.”

The EU emissions-trading system, the world’s biggest carbon market, includes the bloc’s 27 member states as well as Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. It was set up in 2005 as part of the bloc’s efforts to tackle the heat waves, storms and floods that scientists have linked to emissions of greenhouse gases.

To contact the reporter on this story: Catherine Airlie in London at cairlie@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephen Voss at sev@bloomberg.net

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