Row mars launch of online market for trading greenhouse gas 'permits'

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The Independent Online

The world's largest online marketplace for the trading of greenhouse gas "permits" opens for business today amid a fierce row between Europe and the US over whether this is the best way to combat global warming.

The world's largest online marketplace for the trading of greenhouse gas "permits" opens for business today amid a fierce row between Europe and the US over whether this is the best way to combat global warming.

The organisations behind CO2e.com claim that the trading of greenhouse gas emissions will become one of the fastest growing commodity markets in the world with a potential value of anything between $100bn and $1,000bn. US representatives attending this week's global warming summit in The Hague have given their strong backing to emissions trading - whereby industrialised nations and energy intensive companies buy "pollution permits" from countries that emit much less carbon dioxide.

The US, Canada and Japan, are backing plans to designate the world's rainforests, such as the Amazon, as "carbon sinks" that can soak up CO2 emissions, enabling other countries to meet their greenhouse gas targets set at the Kyoto environmental summit three years ago.

But the European Union has rejected the US-led plan saying: "It does not ensure environmental integrity of the Kyoto protocol and it does not sufficiently address the concerns of the EU."

CO2e.com, a web-based market place, will allow companies to obtain information about greenhouse gases and how to reduce their emissions as well as providing a platform for the trading of emissions.

It has been developed by the US financial services group Cantor Fitzgerald and PricewaterhouseCoopers. They will earn commissions on every trade conducted on the website and consultancy work undertaken by firms who advertise on the site.

Carlton Bartels, chief executive of CO2e.com, said: "This will become the market square for carbon finance."

He said that a dozen trades had already been carried out on CO2e.com covering tens of millions of tonnes of CO2 emissions. A group of UK oil and gas companies is also in discussions with the Government about using the market place to trade emissions.

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