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A billion here, a trillion there...

May 22, 2008 | 11:50 am


... and pretty soon we're talking about real money, as the saying goes.

National global warming legislation is about to reach a debate in the U.S. Senate next month, and the skirmishing among industries about how much they will have to pay to pollute the atmosphere is in full gear.

But power plants and factories aren't the only ones with a financial stake. A study released today by Point Carbon, a leading market firm, estimates that the global market for trading carbon credits, now worth about $60 billion in Europe and Japan, will grow to $3.1 trillion by 2020 with the adoption of a cap-and-trade program in the U.S. No wonder such firms as JP Morgan Securities, Merrill Lynch and Lehman Brothers are salivating.

-- Margot Roosevelt

Photo: Smog over St. Petersburg, Russia. Credit: Sergey Kulikov / AFP/Getty Images