Intercontinental Exchange reports record growth in North American environmental complex


Intercontinental Exchange, Inc. (ICE) reported record growth in its North American environmental complex as an increasing number of participants use these markets to price and manage climate risk.

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The North American environmental complex is made up of futures and options on California Carbon Allowances (CCAs), California Carbon Offsets (CCOs), Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative Allowances (RGGI), Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) Credits, and Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs).

ICE reported that the average daily volume (ADV) has grown by 20 percent annually every year since 2017. Further, open interest hit a record high of more than 1.1 million contracts on June 25.

Currently, about 6.9 million tons of carbon dioxide trades each day through ICE’s CCA market, with open interest in CCA futures and options at 445,451 contracts as of June 28. In RGGI futures, 121,319 contracts have traded year-to-date, with ADV up 69 percent compared to last year.

“ICE offers investors access to the most liquid environmental markets available, providing transparent price signals which allow customers to price and manage climate risk globally and accurately value the energy we generate and consume,” Gordon Bennett, managing director, utility markets at ICE, said. “Carbon pricing plays a key role in helping erode so-called ‘green premiums,’ meaning the difference in cost between a product that involves emitting carbon and an alternative that doesn’t. The growing number and range of participants actively trading our environmental markets reflects the powerful momentum created through a combination of policy and economics, which is driving and supporting environmental programs globally.”

U.S. Renewable Energy Certificate (REC) markets are among the most liquid and transparent green certificate markets available. A total of 463,228 REC futures have traded in 2021 as of June 29, equivalent to almost 30 million megawatt hours of renewable energy or enough to power around 2.7 million homes for a year.

ICE hosts the four largest and most liquid carbon cap and trade markets in the world. ICE’s European Emission allowance market is the largest in terms of volume, followed by ICE’s California Carbon allowances.

ICE has been active in carbon offset markets since 2008, with more than 3 billion tons of Certified Emission Reductions (CERs) traded on ICE. More than 14 gigatons of carbon trades on ICE annually, equivalent to approximately 40 percent of the world’s total annual energy-related emissions footprint based on current estimates. The number of participants trading ICE’s carbon markets increased by more than 40 percent between 2017 and 2020.

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