Activity light in debut of Montreal carbon market

Fri May 30, 2008 5:25pm EDT
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By Jonathan Spicer

TORONTO (Reuters) - Just three contracts changed hands during the debut of Canada's new carbon emissions market on Friday, but the operator said it sees strong potential for growth in a country that is among the world's biggest polluters.

Montreal Exchange, Canada's main derivatives market -- which was bought this month by Toronto Stock Exchange operator TSX Group -- launched the market so that polluters, speculators and investors have a platform on which to buy and sell carbon credits.

With Canadian energy and power producers facing mandatory greenhouse gas reductions in less than two years, the exchange said the time is right to help establish carbon prices.

"There's unquestionably the advantage of being the first mover," Luc Bertrand, chief executive of Montreal Exchange and deputy CEO of TSX Group, said in an interview.

"Before we get the kind of traction that it should have, we will have to do a lot of work to educate people."

Four contracts are listed on the new Montreal Climate Exchange, a joint venture with Chicago Climate Exchange, an arm of British holding company Climate Exchange Plc. Friday's trades came immediately after the opening bell.

Emissions trading has grown in recent years, especially in Europe, as governments attempting to curb climate change restrict the greenhouse gases corporations produce.

Since 1990, Canada's emissions have risen faster than all of the other Group of Eight industrialized nations. The government's proposed system to regulate industrial emissions is not finalized, but is due to come into effect in 2010.   Continued...