Europe's Carbon Emissions Market Is Crashing

Slower economies mean lower emissions, depressing prices
Smoke from the cooling towers of the coal-fired Scholven power plant in Gelsenkirchen, Germany Photograph by Patrick Stollarz/AFP via Getty Images

Carbon markets were supposed to help the world fight climate change by making fossil fuels more expensive, thereby curbing the burning of coal, oil, and natural gas, which release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. This year, the market is pricing a lifetime of pollution at less than the cost of a tank of gasoline. Using one type of United Nations carbon credit, in January it was possible to offset 581 tons of emissions, about as much as the average European generates in 80 years, for €23.24 ($30). The price has climbed to $82. “The fact that prices are so cheap says the market is broken,” says Edward Hanrahan, director of ClimateCare, in Oxford, England, which invests in carbon-reducing projects. “It’s not spurring large emitters to make investments” in reducing emissions.

To continue reading this article you must be a Bloomberg Professional Service Subscriber.