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Financial Times: Carbon prices plunged yesterday in the aftermath of the Copenhagen conference on climate change, dealing a blow to the credibility of the European Union’s carbon-trading scheme.

Prices for carbon permits for December 2010 delivery, the benchmark contract for pricing European permits, dropped nearly 10 per cent in early trading, before recovering to end the day 8.3 per cent lower at €12.41.

Lower prices give companies less incentive to invest in cutting their greenhouse gas output. Analysts estimate that prices of more than €40 a tonne are required to stimulate investment in new low-carbon technologies.

Carbon traders blamed the price fall on the Copenhagen conference, which produced an accord among the world’s biggest developed and developing countries to limit their greenhouse gas emissions, but omitted details on what those limits would be. Governments now have a month to submit formal pledges on how far they will reduce their carbon output.

“This [accord] is a very disappointing outcome,” said Trevor Sikorski, director at Barclays Capital. “I see nothing here that should drive investment in low-carbon technology.” He said that it was “bearish for the market and bearish for the world”.

The EU’s carbon price was created under the bloc’s emissions trading scheme, by which companies in energy-intensive industries are allocated trade-able permits to produce CO 2 . The number of permits issued is gradually ratcheted down, giving companies an incentive to cut their emissions in order to avoid having to buy extra permits from others.

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