Friday, December 21, 2007

Is greed good for the green movement?

I saw an interesting story the other day regarding the launch of a new investment opportunity based on the green movement.

According to Reuters, Evolution Markets is working with the New York Mercantile Exchange to offer trade in global carbon credits beginning next year.

Heavy-hitting financial institutions such as Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan, Merrill Lynch Constellation and several others will join to be partners in Green Exchange – setting up trading for futures of carbon credits tied to the “cap and trade system.”

It will work like this. Companies throughout the world are allowed certain credits for emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases through the Kyoto Treaty. Those firms that don’t meet the limit have leftover credits, which they can sell to companies that need them.

NYMEX and the host of banks associated with the green exchange apparently see global warming as the next hot futures market, supplanting past futures stalwarts like farm produce and interest rates.

California Air Resources Board Chairman Mary Nichols has been a vocal proponent of cap and trade systems.

Theoretically, CARB could set carbon emission limits per truck or company, and your right to purchase surplus credits from another company could be intercepted by investors who already bought futures in green credits.

Of course, the green movement is everywhere these days, which is nothing new for truckers to hear.

Culturally, going green and global warming seems to be on the tips of almost all of our tongues.

Just this week I’ve heard Denny Crane (William Shatner taking on environmentalists on “Boston Legal” (“Deep down, everyone hates the environment”) to the folks here in the office giving “Land Line Now” Host Mark Reddig a hard time for his house’s “festival of incandescence” Christmas light display.

It seems everywhere we’re urged to examine our lives and how they may be affecting global warming.

To calculate your own carbon footprint, click here.

But back to my original point.

So we’ll continue to change light bulbs over to CFLs, recycle printer paper and reduce use of bottled water. Let’s just hope the environmental movement moves its way into our lives in a way that’s a little less seamlessly profit-driven.

Otherwise, I can already picture the Times Square marquee buzzing with fast changing prices for carbon credits. Maybe the green exchange price on the electric board will be accompanied by a cute little green logo.