Indian steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal will get a 1 billion pound windfall from an European scheme to curb global warming.
His company Arcelor Mittal, the world's leading steel empire, where he is the chairman and chief executive, will make the gain on "carbon credits" given to it under the European Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).
The scheme grants companies permits to emit CO2 up to a specified "cap". Beyond that they must buy extra permits. An investigation has revealed that ArcelorMittal has been given far more carbon permits than it needs. It has the largest allocation of any organisation in Europe.
The company can sell the excess carbon permits priced at about £12.70 each or store them for future use. Either way the company will have gained assets worth around £1 billion by 2012, The Sunday Times reported today.
The disclosure comes on the eve of the Copenhagen climate conference, whose main aim is to extend schemes such as the ETS into a global system for trading carbon.
Anna Pearson, an expert on the ETS who carried out the analysis said: "Between 2008 and 2012 ArcelorMittal stands to gain assets worth £1 billion at today's prices for scant effort.
ArcelorMittal, based in Luxembourg and with more than 80 steel plants around Europe, has confirmed Pearson's figures. The ETS covers 10,000 industrial installations, responsible for 40 per cent of the EU's greenhouse gas emissions.