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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Carbon: The World's Next Biggest Market

It's been over a month since I first started telling you all about the coming opportunities in carbon trading. Since then, there have been some developments, not only in legislation, but in the amount of media attention being paid to this fledgling industry.

Last Tuesday, Australian Prime Minister John Howard announced details of a proposed carbon-trading plan he hopes to have under way by 2011. And today, the Australian Climate Exchange opened, with carbon trading around $8.60 per ton.

This is a huge ideological shift from one of the two fully industrialized countries that failed to accept the Kyoto Protocol targets for emissions reduction. The other, as you probably know, is the US.

And then there's the recent New York Times article, "In London's Financial World, Carbon Trading Is the New Big Thing." And boy is it.

According to that article, carbon trading is one of the "fastest-growing specialties in financial services." And companies are scrambling to get "a slice of a market now worth about $30 billion and that could grow to $1 trillion within a decade."

The article continues: "Carbon will be

the world's biggest commodity market, and it could become the world's biggest market over all."

The World's Biggest Market

Carbon has the potential, as stated in the NY Times article, to become the world's biggest market. Here's why.

Consider this: Every year humans generate about 38 billion tons of carbon dioxide. Now take a look at a chart of the price of carbon on the Chicago Climate Exchange:

carbon price
At its current price of about $3.50 per ton, the potential carbon market stands at roughly $133 billion (38 billion x $3.50).

But only a fraction of those emissions are regulated.

As more and more governments start to regulate their country's emissions, and as more companies--just as we're seeing in the US--start to voluntarily limit their emissions, the demand for available carbon credits will skyrocket. And so will their price!

One need only revert to the simple law of supply and demand to see that this industry is going to be huge. If increased demand dictates an increase in price, getting in now could be one of the wisest investment moves you make in the first half of this century.

More than One Way to Profit

And carbon isn't just a one trick pony. There are a few ways to make sure you get your share of this opportunity.

You see, as this industry grows and matures, companies are going to be looking to make money from it in any way possible.

So if you don't have the $33 million needed to break into trading Certificates in Emission Reductions (CERs), there's still hope.

For starters, you could invest in companies that reduce emissions simply by the nature of their business. Companies that produce clean energy will soon be profiting on two fronts--they'll be selling their power and the carbon credits they acquired while making it.

And now, some companies are trying to make their fortunes by finding ways to reduce the daily emissions of dirty operations and selling the credits they earn in the process. These companies are not only getting consulting fees, but a portion of the carbon credit proceeds as well.

Take a look at Ecology & Environment Inc. (AMEX: EEI), which offers a range of environmental consulting services, including environmental planning, management, and regulatory compliance support.


In one year, this company is up 34%--six percentage points higher than the record-breaking Dow--and has increased its annual net income by over 62%.

And there's another way to tap into this industry.

As more governments begin to cap carbon emissions and initiate trading schemes, there will need to be regulatory bodies that measure and confirm reduced emissions. And those agencies will need new instruments and technologies to measure and record.

Point is...these stocks are going to make Green Chip investors a boatload!

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