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How To Invest In Carbon Credits - Step By Step Guide

Sustainable investing has become increasingly essential, and one avenue gaining prominence is understanding how to invest in carbon credits.

Author:Dexter Cooke
Reviewer:Darren Mcpherson
Jan 08, 2024
Sustainable investing has become increasingly essential, and one avenue gaining prominence is understanding how to invest in carbon credits.
New rules, more emission trading systems, and the need for retail investment choices on Wall Street are all contributing to the growth of carbon markets. Voluntary carbon markets are still in their early phases, even if the transaction value topped $10 billion USD in 2022.
In order to achieve the climate change goals set forth in the Paris Agreement, the Taskforce on Scaling Voluntary Carbon Markets estimates that these markets will have to expand by a factor of fifteen by 2030 and by a factor of one hundred by 2050.
Since they may deal with carbon offset projects directly, enterprises and institutional investors have more options than the underdeveloped retail market for voluntary carbon markets.
It is still possible for individual investors to test the waters of the carbon markets. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to invest in carbon credits.

Carbon Markets

Metric tons of carbon dioxide or its equivalents are offered as carbon offsets, credits, or allowances in carbon markets. A ton of carbon dioxide or an equal quantity of other greenhouse gases may be reduced, sequestered, or offset using these credits.
Among them are organic gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2), sulphur hexafluoride (SF6), nitrogen oxide (N2O), and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). Cellular respiration produces carbon dioxide, but natural gas and cow burps are mostly composed of methane.
A rocket's propellant is nitrogen oxide. SF6 is mainly used in electrical power generation, semiconductor manufacturing, and magnesium casting; PFCs are man-made compounds that include carbon and fluorine, HFCs contain fluorine and hydrogen, and SF6 is also present in PFCs and HFCs.

Carbon Market Types

It is common for carbon markets to be confused, yet they really function independently. Individuals, businesses, and even governments may buy carbon offsets or put money into programs to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases in the smaller voluntary carbon market (VCM).
United Airlines, American Airlines, and Delta Air Lines are just a few companies that offer carbon offsets as an upsell. On their scientific path to net-zero, organizations throughout the globe may find carbon net-negative technology providers on, the top carbon credits platform for engineered carbon removal.
The steps include finding vendors who have a negative net emissions, measuring and independently validating the carbon that has been sequestered, and finally, issuing CO2 Removal Certificates (CORCs).
According to various sources, the voluntary market was valued somewhere from $306 million to around $2 billion in 2020. Nobody can agree on how big it is, it is unregulated, and it is hard to verify.
With a combined $33 trillion in assets under management (AUM) and 250 pension funds throughout the world, the IIGCC pension funds have not authorized anything in the VCM. Verifying the effectiveness of an offset may be challenging, and companies have the freedom to determine how much pollution they want to offset.
Worldwide, 55% of GDP goes into the obligatory carbon markets, which are called Emissions Trading Systems (ETS). These markets account for 17% of all greenhouse gas emissions. Some examples of such marketplaces include the EU Emissions Trading System (EUAs) and similar programs in Mexico, California, Oregon, Washington, Quebec, the UK, Kazakhstan, Japan, and China.
By 2022, governments had collected more than $63 billion via emission trading programs, setting a new record. With 28 ETSs in operation as of 2023, almost 17% of the world's emissions are covered.

How Does An Emissions Trading System Work?

In order to comply with the European Union's Emission Trading System (ETS), a cap-and-trade system, businesses must give up an amount equal to their annual emissions.
At present, the EU ETS covers more than 10,000 power plant emissions from airlines, energy-intensive heavy industries, power plants, and factories. The system's emissions have decreased by 34.6 percent since 2005.
Businesses are obligated to pay the same amount in EU Allowances (EUAs) each year as their carbon emissions from the previous year, in terms of tons of carbon. A charge of €100 per extra ton is levied on companies that do not comply.
If a firm fails to meet the required amount of EUAs, it will be fined €20,000 and will have to provide an extra 200 EUAs the following year to compensate for the emissions from that year.
Greenhouse gas emissions from BASF were 18.4 million metric tons in 2022, a decrease from 20.2 million in 2021 and 20.8 million in 2020. An organization will need to increase its purchases in the allowance auction market if its pollution levels exceed the allotted allowances.
Approximately 43% of all permits were distributed at no cost to businesses between 2013 and 2020, with 80% of the allocation going to the industrial sector in 2013. The majority of power producers are required to buy all of their supplies rather than receive any allowances at no cost.
An oldman and a woman are working on a laptop while woman is holding credit card.
An oldman and a woman are working on a laptop while woman is holding credit card.

How Can You Invest In Carbon Credits?

Carbon Mutual Funds And ETFs

One easy and low-risk approach to starting to invest in green things is to look into carbon markets. A "low-carbon" fund, which invests in companies with little environmental effect or in those that voluntarily reduce their emissions, is the most basic kind of exposure to the carbon markets.
To begin making environmentally conscious investments is a fantastic strategy, as institutions and investors would most likely target polluting businesses first.
Mutual funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) that have reduced their involvement in polluting activities may be located with the use of tools such as the Fossil Free Fund. As a first step in building a carbon portfolio, picking these funds instead of alternatives without these limitations is simple.
Next, there are "green funds," such as Brookfield Renewable Partners (BEP) and Tesla (TSLA), that only invest in green, carbon-market-related firms. Compared to low-carbon funds that avoid investing in polluting industries, these funds are much more exposed to the carbon markets. Almost every company that green funders put their money into is already operating at a loss.
As a last group, we have funds whose principal investment is in carbon credit futures. Due to their lack of diversification and near-one-to-one tracking of the performance of their underlying carbon credits, these funds carry the highest risk.
A better comparison would be to put your money into a fund that stores real gold rather than one that backs companies actively seeking to mine or manufacture the precious metal.
Adding this fund product to your portfolio should only be done by seasoned investors with a clear objective in mind. If you diversify your carbon portfolio away from polluting corporations, you'll have more capital to invest in other environmentally friendly companies.

Green Companies

Another excellent option for discerning investors seeking a more targeted approach to the carbon credit market is to put their money into environmentally conscious businesses.
Tesla is one of several environmentally conscious businesses that actually produce less carbon dioxide than it takes in. Consequently, businesses are actively producing carbon credits that may be traded in compliance markets, if relevant.
Unfortunately, many environmentally conscious businesses still haven't had the chance to make use of the carbon credit market to its full potential since there are so many countries that don't have compliance markets. The approval of Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, which establishes a worldwide carbon credit trade, will greatly contribute to resolving this issue.
In addition to their current business activities, many green companies, such as those involved in the production of electric vehicles, renewable energy, biofuels, battery technology, and waste recovery, may in the future be able to profit from the sale of carbon credits.
Many publicly traded green firms exist, including NIO Inc. (NIO), a Tesla rival, and First Solar, a distributor of solar energy equipment and services (FSLR). But many private enterprises are also seeking funding at the moment, thanks to the green tech trend.
Private firms sometimes provide more enticing pricing and conditions, but they also carry a higher degree of risk compared to publicly listed corporations. This is because there is no assurance that you will be able to simply exit your investment in a private company. Depending on your risk tolerance, private offers that you are able to access via your broker or any other channel may be worthwhile to pursue.

Carbon Credits Futures

Carbon credit futures, like EU Allowance futures on the ICE, provide ordinary investors with the most direct access to the voluntary carbon markets.
This approach is beyond the purview of this piece since, in comparison to other types of green investment, it may be quite complex and dangerous.
As a substitute for direct exposure to carbon credits, carbon offset initiatives might be considered a good option. Carbon offset initiatives often raise money privately, making it impossible for regular investors to invest directly in them at the time.
On the other hand, other businesses base their operations on the creation and sale of carbon credits, and they invest in carbon offset projects as a whole.
As carbon credits and voluntary carbon markets continue to expand, these businesses will benefit greatly. As an example, consider Carbon Streaming Corporation (NETZ.NEO).

Best Companies For Carbon Credits Investment

  • CRBN- For those looking for a low-risk investment, consider the iShares MSCI ACWI Low Carbon Target ETF. It follows the performance of an index that includes more than 1,000 low-carbon enterprises from throughout the globe. U.S. companies like Apple, Microsoft, and Amazon make up a large portion of the top holdings. Its low risk is a result of its diversification, but the reward is less exposure to the expansion of carbon markets.
  • GRN- Carbon credit futures from the European Union Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) make up almost all of the Barclays Global Carbon II TR USD Index, which the GRN ETN follows. Although it is riskier and more volatile than other ETNs, this one gives excellent exposure to the expanding carbon markets by closely tracking the price performance of EU ETS carbon credits.
  • KCCA- One exchange-traded fund (ETF) that tracks the cap-and-trade carbon allowances traded in California is KCCA. In addition, it provides direct access to EU Allowances, which are traded under the EU Emissions Trading Scheme. One exchange-traded fund (ETF) that offers exposure to carbon credits from the European Union Emissions Trading System (ETS), California's CCA, and the Northeastern United States' RGGI is KRBN.
  • LCTU - BlackRock's LCTU exchange-traded fund invests in mid to large-cap U.S. firms seen as having a greater chance of profiting from the shift to a low-carbon economy. With more than 300 holdings, this exchange-traded fund (ETF) will provide greater long-term stability than direct exposure to the rise of the carbon markets.
  • LOWC- An exchange-traded fund (ETF) managed by SPDR MSCI ACWI, LOWC follows the performance of an index of the same name and has holdings in more than a thousand low-carbon firms from all over the globe. U.S. companies like Apple, Microsoft, and Amazon make up a large portion of the top holdings.
  • Netz.NEO- Thanks, Netz.NEO is a royalty-type business with an emphasis on building a portfolio of premium carbon credit streams. By investing in carbon credit projects, NETZ may secure a future right to collect all or a set amount of the carbon credits that these projects produce.
  • SMOG And SPYX- SMOG is an environmentally conscious investment vehicle that invests in renewable energy sources and follows the MVIS Global Low Carbon Energy Index. One exchange-traded fund (ETF) that aims to reduce its environmental impact while still tracking the performance of the S&P 500 Index is SPYX.
  • BGRN And GRNB- A green bond exchange-traded fund (ETF) BGRN tracks an index of investment-grade green bonds issued to finance environmental initiatives globally. Fixed income portfolios may benefit from GRNB's green exposure thanks to its almost 300 assets, the majority of which are sovereign and other government-related debt.

FAQs - How To Invest In Carbon Credits

What Are The Primary Benefits Of Investing In Carbon Credits?

Investing in carbon credits offers numerous advantages, such as contributing to environmental sustainability, supporting clean energy projects, and potentially yielding financial returns.

How Can Individuals Start Investing In Carbon Credits On A Small Scale?

To initiate small-scale investments in carbon credits, individuals can explore platforms that facilitate retail-level participation, like carbon offset marketplaces or specialized investment funds.

Are There Any Risks Associated With Investing In Carbon Credits?

Like any investment, there are inherent risks. Market fluctuations, regulatory changes, and uncertainties in project outcomes are factors to consider. Conducting thorough research is crucial.

Can Businesses Integrate Carbon Credits Into Their Sustainability Strategies?

Yes, businesses can strategically invest in carbon credits as part of their sustainability initiatives, helping them achieve carbon neutrality and meet environmental goals.

What Role Do Carbon Credit Projects Play In The Global Fight Against Climate Change?

Carbon credit projects play a vital role in mitigating climate change by funding projects that reduce or capture greenhouse gas emissions, contributing to a more sustainable and greener future.

Final Thoughts

Carbon emissions and their effects on the environment are a growing issue for governments, organizations, and people alike. Markets that are either voluntary or mandated are expanding, and the EU government has prioritized regulatory change.
Producers and consumers alike will feel the effects of the growing number of Emissions Trading Systems, which aim to make sure that businesses charge what it really costs to make their products.
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Dexter Cooke

Dexter Cooke

Dexter Cooke is an economist, marketing strategist, and orthopedic surgeon with over 20 years of experience crafting compelling narratives that resonate worldwide. He holds a Journalism degree from Columbia University, an Economics background from Yale University, and a medical degree with a postdoctoral fellowship in orthopedic medicine from the Medical University of South Carolina. Dexter’s insights into media, economics, and marketing shine through his prolific contributions to respected publications and advisory roles for influential organizations. As an orthopedic surgeon specializing in minimally invasive knee replacement surgery and laparoscopic procedures, Dexter prioritizes patient care above all. Outside his professional pursuits, Dexter enjoys collecting vintage watches, studying ancient civilizations, learning about astronomy, and participating in charity runs.
Darren Mcpherson

Darren Mcpherson

Darren Mcpherson brings over 9 years of experience in politics, business, investing, and banking to his writing. He holds degrees in Economics from Harvard University and Political Science from Stanford University, with certifications in Financial Management. Renowned for his insightful analyses and strategic awareness, Darren has contributed to reputable publications and served in advisory roles for influential entities. Outside the boardroom, Darren enjoys playing chess, collecting rare books, attending technology conferences, and mentoring young professionals. His dedication to excellence and understanding of global finance and governance make him a trusted and authoritative voice in his field.
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