Carbon Expo – the main annual event for the global carbon market and climate finance industry – welcomed more than 2,200 visitors from 109 countries this week, some 30% more than last year, organisers said.
Attendance numbers for the trade show and conference held this year in Barcelona recovered from 2014’s low of around 1,700, but are still well below the more than 3,000 that have attended in years past.
Spain’s King Felipe VI, who opened the expo, was also a big draw for many keen visitors who snapped photos and took videos of his grand entrance and subsequent keynote address on their smartphones.
There was a sense of cautious optimism among attendees that the global march of national and sub-national carbon pricing mechanisms would continue, and accelerate following a climate change agreement in Paris.
Carbon pricing instruments including emissions trading schemes and carbon taxes currently cover around 12% of the world’s annual GHG emissions and are valued at around $48 billion, according to a World Bank-Ecofys report published to launch the conference.
The steady spread of carbon taxes globally and a potential expansion of existing regional trading schemes in China and the US also gave hope to conference participants, who shrugged off the few negative developments including Australia’s decision last year to dismantle its carbon market.
Attendees also appeared relieved that the EU had all but agreed its Market Stability Reserve, providing more clarity and certainty for participants that have endured a metaphoric rollercoaster ride over the past few years in terms of price and policy developments in the bloc’s ETS.
While most banks continue to be conspicuously absent from the event, more traders and brokers made the trip this year compared to last as carbon prices and trading volumes around the world rise steadily.
However, once again there were few low-carbon project developers wandering the fair’s halls, as CER prices remain around €0.40/tonne and as just a handful of the 40 or so countries that have so far published their INDCs see international offset markets as a potential component of their strategies.
All eyes now turn to the UN talks, which pick up again next week in Bonn, as industry participants yearn for the inclusion of market-based mechanisms in a negotiation text when the gavel goes down in Paris in December.
Fingers are also crossed that China’s 2016 or 2017 launch of a national ETS, poised dethrone the EU’s as the world’s largest carbon market, goes smoothly and that the US Clean Power Plan, which could help birth new state-led emissions trading programmes, survives next year’s presidential election.
By Mike Szabo – firstname.lastname@example.org