Last week, a commentator on REDD-Monitor asked about a company called World Carbon Marketplace. The commenter pointed out that on the company’s website, 28 people were advertising carbon credits from 58 projects supposedly worth a total of just over £2 million.
There are several companies, mainly based in the UK, that are selling carbon credits as an investment. There are also many stories of people who have bought carbon credits and are left with an investment that is very difficult to sell (see the comments following this post about MH Carbon, for example).
“Need a carbon exit strategy?” asked World Carbon Marketplace’s website. “Do you want to sell carbon credits? Advertise with us!” The company offered an “Exchange Platform“, where for a fee, people wanting to sell carbon credits could advertise them.
A little digging revealed some problems. Not least the fact that the company was set up by someone who not long ago was encouraging people to invest in carbon credits and make “30%+ returns”. Within hours of receiving some questions from REDD-Monitor, World Carbon Marketplace took most of its website offline. It now claims to be giving refunds to its clients.
The website was set up by a company called WCM Marketplace, which was established in the UK on 18 October 2012. Amy Tierney is the company’s sole director.
WCM Marketplace’s office is in South Wimbledon in a run-down industrial estate (see the photo above). The office address is offered by a virtual office company. The website was set up on a free service provided by a company called Vistaprint. None of this is illegal, of course, but none of it inspires much confidence.
The home page of World Carbon Marketplace’s website linked to a twitter account: @carbon_investor. Here’s one of the recent tweets:
But the older tweets are much more interesting. Like this one, from 20 October 2011:
Or this one from 26 September 2011:
REDD-Monitor sent Amy Tierney some questions about her company. Within a few hours, the @carbon_investor twitter account had been deleted. World Carbon Marketplace’s website disappeared shortly afterwards. An email arrived from World Carbon Marketplace explaining that “We are currently updating the website to avoid any confusion on the nature of our business.”
The company’s website now consists of a notice to clients, explaining that the company is being restructured, that in future funds will not be raised from clients advertising on the website and that existing clients will be given a refund. Currently, the company offers no services.
Below are REDD-Monitor’s questions to Amy Tierney followed by her response in full. Needless to say, she doesn’t answer most of the questions.
From: Chris Lang
Date: 12 April 2013 14:22
Subject: World Carbon Marketplace
Greetings from Jakarta! My name is Chris Lang and I work on a website called REDD-Monitor (www.redd-monitor.org).
I’ve been following the stories about companies selling carbon credits as investments in the UK and I recently came across your company WCM Solutions and its website World Carbon Marketplace (www.worldcarbonmarketplace.com). I would be grateful if you could answer the following questions:
1. On your website you point out that “World Carbon Marketplace does not guarantee a sale, but we do endeavour to increase the visibility of your portfolio, and to help in any way we can to increase your chances of finding a suitable buyer.” As I understand it, your company offers a website “Exchange Platform” on which people who want to sell carbon credits can (for a fee of £49.99) advertise them for sale. Have I understand this correctly and do you do anything else to try to sell the credits? If so, what?
2. How many people work at World Carbon Marketplace?
3. The company address is an industrial estate in South Wimbledon. Is this a virtual office?
4. Do you have another job or background in selling carbon credits or trading stocks?
5. Of the total number of carbon credits advertised on your website so far, what percentage has managed to find a buyer for their carbon credits?
6. According to a post on the WCM blog (dated 17 October 2013), you reduced the price for advertising credits on your Exchange Platform from £249.99 to £99.99. Why did you do this? Did business pick up after this reduction? Did you offer a refund for people who paid five times the current rate?
7. How can we tell that you are not also ripping people off (by asking people to pay you to advertise carbon credits that are “near worthless”, as a judge in a recent case described them – http://bit.ly/13WO9aB)?
8. The registration process involves handing over personal information, including telephone number and email address. I couldn’t find any reassurances that you would not pass on these details (http://archive.is/BrDLQ, http://archive.is/7FqMO). Have I overlooked something?
9. On 13 December 2011, @Carbon_Investor (the twitter account liniked from the home page of World Carbon Marketplace) tweeted, “Buy Carbon Credits now and Invest in this growth market. DM us to find out how!” And on 20 October 2011, from the same account, you tweeted, “We work with one of the LEADING carbon brokers in London. Contact us TODAY to learn how to invest in Carbon.” Which carbon broker did you work with? Do you still work with them?
If there is anything else you would like to add about your company, or about carbon credits as investments, please do so. Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you. Please consider your response to be on the record.
Regards, Chris Lang
Date: 12 April 2013 17:21
Subject: Re: World Carbon Marketplace
Thanks for getting in touch with WCM.
WCM offers only an advertising service and does not sell, nor has it ever sold, carbon credits, although we have in the past had the ability to refer interested parties in return for advertising.
As discussed on the website, we offer only an advertising service, in the hope it might encourage interest. We make this very clear on our website.
We certainly do not recommend carbon credits as an investment to retail clients, as our blog has continually advised. But we appreciate that there are companies that might be interested in them, and hope that we can help increase the visibility of portfolios.
We are currently updating the website to avoid any confusion on the nature of our business.
World Carbon Marketplace