Emissions-credit trading increases among Central Pa. businesses

New Jersey-based Global Emissions Exchange (GEX) wants to
change the way small businesses, local governments and consumers think about
their conservation efforts.

New Jersey-based Global Emissions Exchange (GEX) wants to
change the way small businesses, local governments and consumers think about
their conservation efforts.

Saving money on electric bills by plugging in
compact-florescent light bulbs is good business for each, but what if you could
net the savings and make a little money off trading those credits on an open
market?

That’s what GEX does, and the company is expanding into Central Pennsylvania.

“We’re talking to quite a few types of companies, including
manufacturing companies, colleges and municipalities about participating in the
exchange,” said Jeffrey Woodman, GEX’s vice president.

The exchange has lined up one new client in the midstate and
wants to grow that number, executives said. GEX is a system that collects and
trades carbon-dioxide (CO2) emission credits, also known as carbon credits or
carbon financial.

GEX, which has an office in Lancaster, has partnered with Dauphin
County-based Amerigreen BioFuels Inc. to develop protocols for trading
emissions credits earned by biofuels companies. Amerigreen is a biofuels
wholesaler and biodiesel-blending facility in Lower Swatara
Township.

“We are firm believers in carbon credits,” said Douglas
Shand, Amerigreen’s chief executive officer. “We know there’s a market coming
for it.”

Amerigreen participates in the GEX for its clients, he said.
The company plans to register customers on the exchange so they can reap the
benefits of gathering and trading emissions credits, he said.

Shand said he looks at the exchanges as one more way to
conserve and reduce dependence on foreign oil.

“This is what we have to do as a country to promote the use
of biodiesel and get away from the handcuffs of the Middle
East,” Shand said.

CO2 is a greenhouse gas emitted when fossil fuels such as
oil and coal are burned, contributing to air pollution and global warming.
Nations in most parts of the world must reduce their CO2 emissions under the
Kyoto Protocol, a treaty ratified or accepted by 180 countries to reduce
greenhouse gasses.

In Europe, emissions
exchanges allow firms that are good at reducing their pollution below mandated
caps to sell the credits to polluters. Those companies then meet the law in
spirit, giving them more time to make pollution-reduction upgrades to factories
and other facilities.

The U.S.
has not ratified the Kyoto Protocol, but voluntary emissions exchanges have
sprung up to allow large companies to trade their credits similar to the
cap-and-trade system in the European Union. The Chicago Climate Exchange is the
largest in the U.S.,
but it is primarily designed for companies dealing in tons of CO2 emissions.

GEX deals in fractions and is open to anyone, with a focus
on small companies, local government and the consumer, said Managing Director
Philip Gotthelf.

A business that buys compact-florescent bulbs or other
technologies can register those products with the exchange, calculate the
amount of CO2 emissions reduced and stock up credits for that conservation. The
credits can be donated, traded, bought and sold similar to stocks.

“Everyone chuckles, ‘What’s a light bulb worth?'” Gotthelf
said. “Well, it may only be a few cents a year, but those people can donate
that to the community for larger projects.”

Although cap-and-trade efforts in the U.S. are
voluntary, some see the emission exchanges as a good start to offer market
solutions to the world’s pollution problems.

The exchanges entice companies to improve their
environmental records on a realistic and continuous timeline as newer
technology makes it easier, said John Nikoloff, a partner with Pennsylvania
Energy Resources Group. The Harrisburg-based consulting,  public-relations and lobbying firm helps
alternative- and renewable-energies companies.

It will meet with GEX soon to discuss the initiative more,
Nikoloff said.

“They’re doing something right now that’s fairly unique,” he
said.

It’s good that GEX has found a niche market to trade carbon
credits on the pound, he said. That find could help GEX be a big player as
pollution-control initiatives become more common. Most exchanges trade carbon
credits per ton, he said.

However, the market is new, he said, and disjointed.
Different types of credits are traded based on the programs set up to use them.
Those credits include carbon credits, green credits, nutrient credits and
renewable-energy credits.

“Right now, there’s so much confusion, and that’s why a lot
of companies aren’t doing it,” Nikoloff said.

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