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Benchmark EU carbon price hits record high above 80 euros/tonne

06/12/2021 - François-Xavier Branthôme
Reuters announced on Friday (December 3, 2021) that the Benchmark European carbon price hit a new record high, climbing above 80 euros ($90.272) per metric tonne for the first time since the European Union's carbon market launched in 2005.

Prices had risen last week after Germany's incoming coalition government said it would prevent carbon prices in its country from falling below 60 euros/tonne. Germany's climate protection policies, agreed by the incoming government, will underpin the price of penalties for polluters and incentivize decarbonisation.

For its part, Bloomberg explains that cost of polluting has increased more than 140% this year after a stricter environmental agenda in Europe was laid out and a sweeping rally in gas prices made dirtier coal more economic to use for power generation. The futures price rose as much as 0.7% Friday to 80.42 euros a metric ton on ICE Endex in Amsterdam.

In the long-term, a high carbon price could accelerate investment in methods to cut emissions or switch to cleaner fuels. Technologies like carbon capture and storage or hydrogen production from renewable energy become more economically viable if the carbon price remains at or above current levels. 

With inflation already surging, making it more expensive for companies to produce widely-used chemicals and materials isn’t going to help. Rapidly rising carbon prices are stoking fears that the European Commission could step in to limit speculation in the market.

Carbon’s rally is likely far from over according to experts, who expect the permits will surge past 100 euros in the next few weeks as utilities continue to buy allowances to account for their emissions from burning coal this year. Record pollution costs are also likely to be raised by some heads of government at an EU summit scheduled for Dec. 16-17.

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