The pay gap between carbon traders and more conventional energy traders has halved in three years, with the market increasingly part of the City's mainstream, according to the headhunter Selby Jennings.
Carbon traders earn an average of £122,000 compared with £139,000 for energy traders, the recruitment firm found. Before the credit crunch they would have been earning up to 25 per cent less, the agency said. Despite the tough climate in the City, pay for carbon traders has jumped 63 per cent in just three years, compared to 32 per cent for energy traders.
Some senior carbon traders are even earning more than their equivalents on energy desks – something all but unheard of just a few years ago. Adam Buck, managing director of Selby Jennings, said: "We are now starting to see a handful of the highest-performing carbon traders earning more than equivalent energy traders."
Mr Buck said mainstream financial institutions were increasingly keen on the market. He highlighted Barclays Capital's £98m acquisition of Tricorona, a Swedish carbon-trading company, and JPMorgan purchase of carbon trader Eco-Securities for £123m in September 2009.
Figures from the World Bank show more than tenfold growth in the global carbon market in the past five years. The value traded in 2009 was $144bn (£96bn), against $10bn in 2005. The global market was worth $126bn in 2008. Selby Jennings claims many energy traders take pay cuts to move into carbon trading to establish themselves in the fast-growing market.