Real Carbon Price Index
The global benchmark for carbon pricing
The price of carbon emissions is a key driver in the global transition to a cleaner future.
However, carbon prices vary widely across different jurisdictions, and global trends have been obfuscated.
The Real Carbon Price Index has been developed to bring greater clarity to policy-makers, researchers, investors, and the public at large.
This project is the result of an international collaboration of experts in carbon markets and financial indices.
It is published alongside open-source data and methodology.
If you're ready to see the project, follow the links below to see our latest work, and subscribe to receive updates and data releases.
Our three organisations share a concern for the climate crisis, and while there are many ways to contribute to this cause, we have a shared appreciation for the importance of putting a price on pollution.
To that end, we have partnered with the intent of providing a transparent and methodologically rigorous instrument to measure the evolution of the global carbon price over time.
As a collaboration across sectors, we have sought to meet the diverse needs of global stakeholders.
We believe the resulting product is useful, reliable, and well-positioned for future developments in carbon pricing.
The Real Carbon Price Index allows individuals and organisations to understand the costs around remediating their impact. It allows policymakers, regulators and governments to benchmark their position and progress. It shows who the leaders and laggards are when it comes to climate change and sets base levels for new entrants and new activities.
You will be able to read more about our methodology in the upcoming white paper, which will be made available for download soon.
The Research Team
The team behind the Real Carbon Price Index came together in a perfect storm.
Jan Ahrens from SparkChange is an acknowledged expert on emissions trading, carbon pricing and the energy markets.
Roger Cohen from C2Zero has over 20 years of experience working with indices across financial markets.
The team from MCFS – Ummul Ruthbah, Bei Cui and Nga Pham – with access to data and vast experience in big data analysis, visualisation and communication provide the analytics and rigour behind the Index.
Backed by Thomas Lingafelter and Chris Cruzado from C2Zero and Professor Deep Kapur at MCFS, plus many meetings at odd hours to facilitate the time zone differences across Australia and Europe, the Real Carbon Price Index is putting the pressure on polluters.
The Collaborating Organisations
The Monash Centre for Financial Studies
A research centre based within Monash University's Monash Business School, Australia, the MCFS aims to bring academic rigour into researching issues of practical relevance to the financial industry. Additionally, through its engagement programs it facilitates two-way exchange of knowledge between academics and practitioners. The Centre’s developing research agenda is broad but has a current concentration on issues relevant to the asset management industry, including retirement savings, sustainable finance and technological disruption.
C2Zero is on a mission to eliminate carbon emissions. They partner with forward-thinking brands to attach Emissions Allowances to everyday products and give people the chance to use their buying power to stop polluters in their tracks.
The team is led by Dr. Roger Cohen, who has brought his expertise in the development of financial indices to this project.
SparkChange is a provider of specialist carbon investment products and data, enabling investors to achieve both positive environmental impact and financial returns. The company was established by experts in environmental products and scalable technologies to set a new standard in carbon investing.
Frequently asked questions
Why is Carbon used as a measure of Greenhouse Gas Emissions?
Carbon is commonly used as a term to represent greenhouse gas emissions. Technically, the correct term should be carbon dioxide (CO2) or carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2e). Greenhouse gas emissions (air pollution) come in many forms, the most common of which is Carbon Dioxide (CO2). Other pollutants include Methane (CH4) and Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). To enable comparison and measurement of pollution, all greenhouse emissions are expressed as carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2e) so their effect can be compared. For example, 1 tonne of methane emissions is equivalent to about 25 tonnes of carbon dioxide or CO2e. In this context, the terms Carbon, Carbon Dioxide and Carbon Dioxide Equivalents are used interchangeably.
What is a Carbon Price?
Some governments and regulators set a cost to pollute by emitting greenhouse gases (CO2 and CO2e). This cost can be in a form of a tax, or through the requirement to purchase pollution permits – known as Emissions Allowances - in a traded market (a cap and trade scheme). Setting a price on these emissions makes it more expensive to pollute, and creates an economic incentive to invest in technologies or use practices that emit less. The higher the price to pollute, the more the incentive to reduce emissions.
Which Carbon Prices are included in the Real Carbon Price Index?
The Real Carbon Price Index includes all prices on greenhouse gases, that are set by governments and government level regulators that are directly linked to greenhouse gas emissions. Under these schemes, paying for carbon is mandatory for certain (large) polluters. This is determined by the relevant government or regulatory body. Voluntary carbon markets (often referred to as “offsets”), or generic fuel taxes that are not linked to the carbon content of the fuel are not included. Overall, more than 40 different carbon price systems are covered by the Real Carbon Price Indices.
What is a “good” carbon price?
Why are offsets not included in the Real Carbon Price Index?
Offsets are created by schemes which reduce emissions through carbon reduction or removal projects. The benefit of these is sold to individuals or organisations who use them to offset their own emissions – sometimes enabling them to claim that they have reached net zero emissions. Carbon credits are not mandatory permits, and not regulated by a government. Their quality and efficacy varies widely, which is reflected in their price which can vary by orders of magnitude (and in many instances is not disclosed). There is also an issue about whether all carbon credits are additive in their effect on reducing pollution (for example carbon credits linked to existing trees do not decrease greenhouse gases. They just ensure that the trees are not destroyed or used for other purposes). Because carbon credits are non-mandatory, and do not reflect governmental policy they are not included in the Real Carbon Indices. Including them would be virtually impossible to account for and introduce noise and inconsistency into any carbon price index methodologies.
Why are Australian carbon credit units (ACCUs) not included in the Real Carbon Price Index?
The Australian offsets issued under the Emission Reduction Fund are a hybrid of offsets and a regulated carbon price. The system is regulated by the Australian Government, and the ACCUs produced are also purchased by the Government. The price for these units does not, however, constitute a cost to pollute in Australia. It is not mandatory for any polluter or polluting activity. It represents the cost to buy emission reductions. Therefore, we do not include the ACCU price in our indices. If Australia was to introduce a mandatory emissions reduction scheme, then the underlying instrument (likely to be ACCUs) would then be included.
Carbon markets have a range of prices, which price point do you take into account?
To show the real cost of polluting, the Real Carbon Price Index aims at using spot prices. Where a secondary spot market exists, this is straightforward. However, in some markets, there are allowance auctions, but no liquid secondary market price. In this case, if possible we use the relative movements of the derivatives market to extrapolate from the last auction settlement price. If no liquid spot or derivatives market exists, we keep the price of the last auction unchanged until the next auction.
How will the index be published?
Initially, the indices will be calculated daily (by MCFS) and published monthly in arrears. Over time, the Real Carbon Price Indices will be published daily as they are calculated. They will also be distributed via third party providers and available on this website.