That’s a good question, and difficult to answer because the subject of carbon emissions trading is extremely complicated. Right now the bodies that govern carbon markets in Europe and New Zealand are governmental or quasi-governmental, for example, the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme and the European Union Emission Trading Scheme. These frameworks are administered much like stock exchanges, meaning they’re more like voluntary associations of businesses rather than government agencies with traditional enforcement powers and such. The US and Australia are struggling to determine what type of carbon trading framework they will use (or, especially in the case of the US, whether they will use it at all). Personally I believe that credit markets will be managed by these government-related entities at first, but they will eventually become privatized or at least semi-privatized over time. Like any other industry, there will be laws and regulations that govern carbon trading, but the entities that establish and regulate the markets day-to-day will probably be private businesses or at least nonprofit associations of businesses. How this plays out in the years to come will be one of the major episodes in the history of climate change mitigation, and I don’t think anybody has a crystal ball that can show us accurately now what these markets will look like in 10 or even 5 years’ time.
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