Interview: Exciting opportunities exist for U.S.-China carbon exchange collaboration

08:48, April 06, 2010      

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There are some very exciting opportunities for collaboration between the United States and China in carbon exchange, said a senior executive in Chicago Monday.

Richard L. Sandor is chairman and founder of the Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX), the world's first and North America's only voluntary, legally binding greenhouse gas cap-and-trade system. Sandor is also chairman of the Chicago Climate Futures Exchange ( CCFE), the world's leading futures exchange for environmental products.

Sandor told Xinhua in an exclusive interview, "I recently spent two weeks in Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin and Hong Kong. My view, based on the people I've met with on my trips and that I work with everyday, is that there are some very exciting opportunities for collaboration between the U.S. and China in the field of carbon exchange."

He said that a great example is the recent establishment of a joint venture between Chicago Climate Exchange and two Chinese partners -- China National Petroleum Corporation and the City of Tianjin. Working together they will develop an electronic emission trading platform and auction facility for financial products to reduce sulfur dioxide emissions and water pollutants, as well as enhancement of energy efficiency, said Sandor.

Sandor added, "The Tianjin Climate Exchange (TCX) has begun to implement pilot initiatives that can help pave the way for a strong market-based infrastructure that facilitates the environmental and policy goals of the People's Republic of China."

When talking about the opportunities and challenges facing the U.S.-China collaboration in carbon trading area, Sandor said, "We operate in a range of legal and regulatory frameworks with global affiliates in the United States, Europe, China, Australia and Canada. While each country has unique characteristics that come with different demands and needs, what seems to be clear across the board is the importance a market mechanism will play in meeting those demands."

He further explained, "Interest is growing globally in carbon markets as a way to achieve better strategic management of energy costs, new products, new sources of revenue, job creation and poverty alleviation. Going forward this is likely to develop on what could be called a "pluri-lateral" basis. There will be markets in different parts of the world that are linked by similar contracts -- much like you see with crude oil today or like we saw with cotton in the 19th century."

The farming and forestry carbon exchange offsets program has been an important part of Chicago Climate Exchange. Sandor said, " Since Chicago Climate Exchange began in 2003, the offsets program has covered approximately 17.2 million acres, 9,000 individual farmers, ranchers and forest owners and 32.4 million metric tons of offsets. Mitigation practices taking place on farms, ranches and forests are good for water, wildlife and the climate, while providing a new income source for rural economies. "

Regarding the effect of the offsets program, Sandor said, " Thousands of farmers, foresters and ranchers who commit to exceptional management practices that remove carbon from the air are now earning new income. The verified best practices that are used by land managers make crops better able to weather climate extremes, generate clean economy jobs, and incentivize new techniques that can further cut emissions."

"However, this is only a small part of what Chicago Climate Exchange members have been able to achieve," said Sandor. "Of all reductions made by CCX members since 2003, about 15 percent have been through offset projects. The remaining cuts are made through companies that are taking a broad range of steps to reduce their emissions. Electricity generators have implemented efficiency retrofits at power plants, used lower-carbon fuels, and optimized nuclear and hydro plant operations."

When commenting on the U.S. legislation on carbon exchange, Sandor told Xinhua, "In June of 2009 a comprehensive climate legislation bill was approved by the U.S. House of Representatives which included a national greenhouse gas reduction and trading system with compliance required starting in 2012. In the Senate, progress continues on multiple fronts. Senator Kerry is currently collaborating with Senators Lieberman and Graham to craft a bill with bipartisan support."

He continued, "While policymakers at the federal level work through the details of a federal bill, interest is growing in regionally mandated markets, such as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which trades on the Chicago Climate Futures Exchange ( CCFE). State governments are increasingly looking to encourage renewable power generation and driving growth in renewable markets. "

Sandor is also a research professor at the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University where he teaches a course on environmental finance. He is a Member of the International Advisory Council of Guanghua School of Management at Peking University and a member of the TERI School of Management Advisory Committee in India. Sandor previously taught at the University of California Berkeley, Stanford University, and Columbia University.



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