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Utilities turn in blacklisted carbon emission credits

More fallout from high profile cyber-heists that shut registries across Europe

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More prominent power generation outfits have surrendered stolen carbon emission permits after realising that they had inadvertently purchased illicit goods.

German utility Eon and Frankfurt-based infrastructure provider Infraserv turned in a collective total of 27,100 blacklisted EUAs (EU Emission Allowances). The certificates were among 186,500 EUAs and 46,000 certified emissions reductions (CERs) fraudulently obtained from German paper manufacturer Drewsen Spezialpapiere via a high-profile phishing scam late last year.

"Eon Energy Trading acquired and surrendered the EUAs in question in good faith," an Eon spokesman told Thomson Reuters Point Carbon (story - subscription required).

The phishing scams and other security problems led to the closure of carbon trading exchanges across Europe in January. Cybercrooks stole permits worth an estimated €30m ($41 million) in allowances in a string of attacks. Roughly 2.78 million of the estimated 3.3 million blacklisted EUAs remain in circulation.

Energy giants ScottishPower and RWE were among five firms identified earlier this week as the unwitting recipients of stolen emission permits. The stolen allowance came from scam involving thefts from accounts maintained from carbon registries in Italy, Romania and the Czech Republic.

There is no suggestion any of the seven firms did anything wrong. It seems that corrupt intermediaries bought permits from phishing fraudsters before fencing these permits to unwitting sellers. Although they can't be traded, the blacklisted EUAs remain eligible for compliance use, Thomson Reuters Point Carbon adds.

Carbon-trading registries represent an attempt to apply a market-based solution towards limiting carbon emissions. Polluters are able to buy and sell emission credits as part of a cap-and-trade system designed so that cleaner factories and energy generation facilities pay less.

Both free market economists and green activists hate the system, albeit for different reasons. ®

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