Ben McQuhae & Co signs the world’s first offshore trade of high integrity carbon credits from China

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Today we signed a contract with Elion Resources Group Co., Ltd, making us the first offshore buyer of international standard high integrity carbon credits from China, known as CCER.  This follows last month’s first day trading on the China national ETS and launch of the world’s largest carbon market. The underlying project is Elion’s CORSIA-compliant 200MW comprehensive demonstration project for ecological solar energy, sand control and power generation in the Kubuqi Desert. The trade was facilitated by AEX Holdings Ltd who is working with a broad coalition of stakeholders to build a licensed neutral platform in Hong Kong to trade high integrity carbon offset credits, including CCERs.

We are a commercial law firm based in Hong Kong committed to sustainability and innovation and have been referred to as perhaps “the first ESG dedicated law firm on the planet”. By placing sustainability at the heart of our business, we hope to be a preferred legal partner for businesses and innovators working towards building a sustainable future. We are actively supporting the development of an international standard voluntary carbon market in China and the establishment of Hong Kong as a global carbon trading hub.

It is equally important to us that our commitment to sustainability is internalized and embedded in our own operations. Pursuant to our Decarbonization Strategy launched last week, this trade aligns with our selection criteria to only knowingly invest in high integrity carbon offsets consistent with the highest international standards; and to invest in carbon offsets that help to accelerate international best practices consistent with the recommendations of the Taskforce on Scaling Voluntary Carbon Markets.

Being the first trade of its kind in a nascent market, we know there are some uncertainties and associated risks and we have designed a contract to help address this. Our motivation is not simply to buy carbon credits but to advocate for the adoption of high integrity CCERs and to demonstrate the enormous market potential – with the right projects, willing contracting parties and some thoughtful drafting. We thank Elion and AEX for making this trade possible, and congratulate Christine Loh who bravely took the plunge with us to buy CCERs on the same terms.

We will soon publish an article describing why we chose to do this trade and how we perceive and try to mitigate some of the uncertainties and risks through the contract.

Ben McQuhae, founder of Ben McQuhae & Co and co-founder of the Hong Kong Green Finance Association, commented: “High integrity carbon credits are essential to the voluntary carbon market and the net zero carbon transition. For us, climate action speaks louder than words and I am really happy to contribute to driving this important agenda by helping design and close this first trade. Solutions require innovation and for that I congratulate our partners AEX and Elion.”

Wang Qiang, Head of Elion’s carbon assets management division, said: “Elion would like an opportunity to work with institutions in Hong Kong to build a robust high integrity CCER global benchmark. We thank the buyers for participating in these important trades and their commitment to supporting the environment.”

Jeff Huang, AEX founder and CEO, commented: “We want to encourage the migration of the offset market in China towards the highest standards. These contracts represent financial innovation which is going to be critical to achieving decarbonization goals. Congratulations to Elion and our pioneering buyers Ben McQuhae & Co and Christine Loh.

Christine Loh said: “The Net Zero world is coming, and it will be different from how things are today. We can hardly imagine it, but we know there will be new tradable environmental products, the purpose of which is to achieve sustainable, low-carbon economies. Quality is the name of the game, and individuals can trade them too. I am just making a start to test the waters with this high quality project.”

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