The European Union’s carbon trading market, which allows organisations to buy and sell their carbon emissions quotas, has been temporarily suspended following a series cyber security breaches.
Carbon credits worth €7 million are believed to have been stolen by hackers from an account in the Czech Republic this week. In recent weeks, hackers have also attempted to access accounts in Hungary, Poland, Estonia and Austria, among others.
The European Commission says that trading will be halted until 26 January at the earliest.
One senior EC official told Reuters news agency that European governments were not fulfilling their duty in protecting the integrity of the market. "We have been hammering on the door of a number of member states alerting them to this issue," commented Jos Delbeke, Deputy Director General for the Environment. "Seemingly half of the member states have not taken our message seriously."
Over the past two years or so, the emissions trading market has been blighted by phishing scams, VAT fraud and re-sale of credits – known by traders as ‘hot air’ – have all impacted its reputation.
The EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme is the largest of its kind, recording revenue of around €90 billion in 2010.