Thursday, April 23, 2009

Portrait of a carbon trader

From Plenty magazine:

A new breed of financial wheeler-dealers.
...Environmental recruitment group Acre Resources told Reuters recently that vacancies for specialist jobs in this general industry (which already have too few people to fill them) could multiply 50 times its current size by 2012.
Once anything is bought and sold at high volume, of course, it attracts people who know how to put deals together. But these businessmen also have to learn about earth science, government policy, international relations and the strange art of marketing something that does not actually exist as a tangible entity. That could explain why the carbon trading world has so many new jobs available—and so few people like Arnold who know how to do them.
Arnold came at it from a somewhat standard business background—an economist by training, business school at Wharton in Philadelphia. Josh Margolis, who runs the American desk of CantorCO2e, an environmental brokerage based in London and San Francisco, was heading toward government work before he discovered emissions trading: undergraduate degree in public policy, internship at the EPA, and a job inspecting for environmental compliance. Over at the London-based CarbonNeutral, the executive director Jonathan Shopley said a job applicant’s background isn’t even the main issue for a trading job.
“We are more interested in the type of person,” Shopley says. “We look for people who are highly numerate, creative, driven, commercial, team players … and global in their thinking.”
The demand for creativity in particular comes up a lot among traders.
“People focused on traditional solutions won’t solve the problem,” Margolis says. “What was deemed unthinkable two years ago will become standard practice, then be discarded in five years. We didn’t solve acid rain by stopping coal. We did it by finding clean coal and alternative fuels.”
Which brings us back to Tom Arnold examining cow manure in Michigan. Somehow, a business (let’s say, a cogeneration plant) trying to comply with California law or maybe just an eco-minded consumer pays for a piece of farm equipment 2,000 miles away. In between are people like Arnold, figuring out how to make it work on both sides....