20101206 cancun family 18
A family passes by one of the stands promoting green energy at the Climate Village in Cancun, Mexico, on December 4, 2010 in the framework of the COP16 summit. - 


STEVE CHIOTAKIS: European officials are investigating the disappearance of around 2 million so-called carbon credits. The theft has disrupted Europe's $120 billion a year market to trade pollution credits.

From London, Marketplace's Stephen Beard reports.

STEPHEN BEARD: Cyberthieves hacked into some databases that serve Europe's carbon-trading scheme. The largest such scheme in the world, it plays a key role in the EU's fight against climate change. Thousands of companies here can buy and sell permits which allow them to emit more CO2. Putting a price on carbon makes it profitable to cut emissions. But after this week's $40 million theft, the EU has halted all spot trading in the permits for at least a week. There is a suspicion that insiders may be behind the theft.

Trevor Sikorski is a carbon analyst with Barclays Capital. He says the five year old market is too loosely controlled.

TREVOR SIKORSKI: We do need to tighten up access to the registries and make sure that everyone who's in this market is professionally regulated.

The market in carbon permits has already been plagued by fraud. The latest scam is a further blow to its credibility.

In London this is Stephen Beard for marketplace.