Emissions exchange trading volumes soar in 2009

LONDON (Reuters) - Exchange-traded volumes for European Union emissions permits and Kyoto Protocol carbon offsets traded so far in 2009 are double last year’s average, data from the exchanges showed.

A general view, taken with a wide-angle lens, shows a lignite-fired power plant of Vattenfall energy company in the town of Schwarze Pumpe some 150 kilometres east of Berlin August 8, 2007. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

Nearly 700 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2), or more than the annual CO2 emissions of Canada, were traded over six European exchanges in February, according to the data.

At a weighted average price of 9.68 euros per metric ton, this represents a trade value of 6.71 billion euros ($8.49 billion).

The volumes include EU Allowances (EUAs), the permits traded under the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme, and Certified Emissions Reductions (CERs), the project-based carbon offsets issued by the United Nations.

February’s volumes were 61 percent above the 429.4 million metric tons traded in January, and 147 percent more than the monthly average of 280.6 million metric tons in 2008.

The bulk of the trading was done on London’s European Climate Exchange, owned by Climate Exchange plc, and Paris’ BlueNext, a joint venture between NYSE Euronext and Caisse des Depots.

Other major exchanges that trade EUAs and CERs include Nord Pool, EEX, Climex and NYMEX’s Green Exchange.

February saw a surge in trading as cash-strapped firms seeking to raise funds in the short-term dumped 2008 EUAs ahead of the issuance of 2009 permits, which carried a February 28 deadline.

As a result, spot trading was heavy at 235 million metric tons, or one third of exchange volumes. This compares to a 2008 average of around 10 percent of volumes made up by spot trading.

For interactive charts on carbon exchange volumes, go to here

Reporting by Michael Szabo; Editing by William Hardy