Europe carbon links potentially a boon for local traders

The government’s decision to link Australia’s future carbon price with Europe’s could be a boon for carbon-trading services in Australia, particularly as the market for the nascent commodity expands in the Asia-Pacific region.
Nanjing Night Net

The connection to Europe’s established emissions pricing market will break down barriers between the two regions. Australian businesses competing in such a market will have an advantage as more Asian nations begin pricing greenhouse-gas emissions, industry representatives said.

The government’s move to hitch Australia’s future carbon price to the world’s biggest emissions trading market came as it decided to ditch its previous plan to set a minimum $15 price per tonne of carbon dioxide emitted once the fixed rate – currently at $23 a tonne – ends in 2015. The carbon tax kicked in on July 1 with the aim of prodding the biggest emitters to reduce emissions of the gas which is contributing to warming global temperatures.

Andrew Grant, managing director of CO2 Group, said the effort to connect emission trading links between Australia and Europe by 2018 “the most profound” aspect of yesterday’s announcement.

“If schemes aren’t linked, we can’t trade internationally so this is so much more beneficial,” Mr Graham said.

Regional push

The change will also give an edge to Australian clean energy firms in Southeast Asia, a region where Europe had dominated until the financial crisis had forced them to scale back their efforts, he said.

Australia had been “a Johnny-come-lately” into that region, but now that it was effectively in the same market, more business could flow, said Mr Grant.

CO2 Group, which provides carbon advisory and other related services, already has business in Singapore and New Zealand. Additional international links give the group an “ability to optimise our assets,” said Mr Grant.

Clean Energy Council deputy chief executive Kane Thornton said short-term price fluctuation around carbon pricing will give way to longer term consistency as Europe’s market is opened up.

“Even though removing the carbon price floor potentially opens us to greater volatility in the market, the link to a larger market covering some 530 million people will help to protect our emissions trading scheme from sudden changes in the price of carbon,” said Mr Thornton.

He sees a potential inflow of $20 billion in investment in low- or carbon-free energy projects that could generate 30,000 jobs over the next decade as a result of the Renewable Energy Target (RET).

Political risk

The chief risk for the renewable energy sector, he believes, is any watering down of the 20 per cent cut in carbon emissions to be achieved by 2020 through the government’s RET review.

“Any perceived benefits from tinkering with the scheme would be undermined by the signals that it sends to investors,” said Mr Thornton. The review concludes at the end of the year.

“We still have the political risk around government and a drastic change of policy,” he said.

Many large companies in Australia want an established market for their carbon exposure said Rob Fowler, who represents the International Emissions Trading Association in Australia and New Zealand.

Links with Europe will expand options for Australian companies to hedge their carbon pricing positions, Mr Fowler said. Further, it will expand opportunities for Australian carbon trading and carbon-offset businesses.

“If Australia can establish and maintain a European link and start to create relationships around carbon that reflect our trade relationships in Asia Pacific, we act as a real interesting pivot in the international carbon environment,” he said.

“Australia as a service provider in these sorts of professional areas has a good history,” said Mr Fowler. “It’s likely we’re going to create a useful financial services industry around that.”

Mr Fowler said Australia also benefited from having a well-regulated financial sector in the eyes of the global investors.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.