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Getting in on the green economy boom


Zuleika Henderson
28 April 2009
A Southern Cross University academic has begun research to build a toolkit aimed at informing businesses how they can make the most of the emerging carbon economy.

Scott Niblock, who lectures in finance at the University’s Riverside facility in Tweed Heads, is conducting PhD research into the carbon market which will identify the opportunities and risks for Australian businesses as the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) comes into force in 2010.

“The emerging carbon market was valued at $US64 billion in 2007, up from $US31 billion in 2006,” said Mr Niblock.

“Given this growth and the threat of climate change, it has the potential to become the world’s biggest commodity market, and once the global economy recovers, it could be the next economic boom on the scale of the dotcom phenomenon.

“Carbon, like gold and other commodities, is traded globally. Given the current global financial crisis, carbon could be included as a financial asset in portfolios to reduce risk and enhance returns. It could also be a liability on the balance sheets of Australian businesses, so being prepared to take advantage of green opportunities and being aware of the associated risks is essential.

“We know that some examples of opportunities for smaller businesses might be participating in carbon offset programs, gaining competitive advantage by positioning themselves as a ‘green’ company and carefully managing their global footprint, but many businesses, especially small and medium-sized companies, are unsure exactly how to make it work for them.

“Businesses want answers but don’t want to have to sift through countless policy documents. The aim of this research is to investigate the nature of the carbon market to build a toolkit that will provide those answers.”

Mr Niblock has already conducted detailed analysis of Australian climate change policy developments and is currently investigating the carbon trading scheme already in place in Europe to help predict the likely outcomes of an emissions trading scheme on Australian businesses.

He said that despite some initial criticisms, the Australian CPRS was one of the best in the world.

“The scheme proposed by the Australian government is not perfect, but it is considerably better designed than the European and US schemes,” said Mr Niblock.

“The CPRS is the single most important policy decision the government will make and implement over the coming years and is the largest reform since the deregulation of the Australian economy in the 1980s.

“A well designed emissions reduction policy in Australia will have significant economic benefits, and businesses need to think about the opportunities and risks to best use the changes to their advantage.”

Photo: Scott Niblock hopes to help businesses understand how to prosper in the emerging carbon economy. (High resolution image available on request)