ARI SHAPIRO, Host:
In some nations, companies can buy and sell the right to pump carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The carbon market, as it's called, started a few years ago in Europe, and it took off fast. It's part of an effort to reduce pollution. In a moment, we'll hear what one Chinese power plant is doing to cut carbon. First, NPR's Christopher Joyce reports that like most every other market, the carbon market is shrinking.
CHRISTOPHER JOYCE: And all that trading has created an army of brokers. A lot of them met this week in Washington, D.C., at the Carbon TradeEx to talk up their business even as the price of their commodity crashes.
M: If we go back 12 months, everybody was very bullish that carbon prices were going to keep taking off, and it was just, you know, to-the-moon-Alice type of approach. Now as the recession has hit, what we've seen is people have become much more realistic.
JOYCE: One reason prices are dropping is that companies are cutting back on manufacturing and are emitting less CO2, so they don't need to buy credits. In fact, a lot of trading companies are now stuck with credits they can't or don't want to sell right now. But there's more to the business than trading CO2 credits.
M: I'm Rick Saines, and I head the North American climate change practice for Baker and McKenzie.
JOYCE: Saines says law firms like his are doing okay because businesses still need advice about what's in store for the future, especially American businesses.
M: The fact is those that have money and capital to deploy, they're looking at clean tech and they're looking at renewables, and they're looking at climate change as an area of growth in the future.
JOYCE: Market analyst Aimee Barnes from the company EcoSecurities took a moment away from conference networking to offer some advice to wannabe marketeers.
M: It's a very sexy industry to get into right now, and there's certainly a lot of interest both from recent grads and from people looking to make a career switch. And I would say, be prepared for a little bit of frustration because it's still a very young market and there's a lot to be worked out.
JOYCE: Christopher Joyce, NPR News.
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