Evolution cannot survive on carbon alone, of course. In addition to trading greenhouse gases, Evolution helps broker deals for biofuels, natural gas, the uranium fuel for nuclear reactors, renewable energy credits, air pollution permits for sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, even insurance against bad weather. But it is coal that has kept the lights on for the last 10 years. Whether it's physical shipments of the fossil fuel or the buying and selling of the permits for the pollution that burning it causes—Evolution's first trade was a sulfur dioxide allowance between Enron and Dynegy in February of 2000—the brokerage makes its living on coal.
Of course, coal is also responsible for nearly 30 percent of U.S. emissions of carbon dioxide, and 20 percent globally. Efforts to halt the global warming caused by carbon dioxide have focused on trading metric tons of the odorless, colorless greenhouse gas globally since at least the 1990s. Evolution has specialized in the nascent trade since 2001 and has posted some early successes, such as the first trade designed to ensure compliance with the emission cuts embedded in the Kyoto Protocol—a transfer of a reduction in emissions in Slovakia to help offset emissions in Japan.
It sees no reason to step back now.
"We were in this market from the very beginning, before it was even a market," Evolution's Ard said. Now "the carbon desk has enough volume coming through to sustain that business."
This article originally appeared at The Daily Climate, the climate change news source published by Environmental Health Sciences, a nonprofit media company.