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A Routine Activities Analysis of White-Collar Crime in Carbon Markets


  • Carole Gibbs,

  • Michael B. Cassidy,

  • Louie Rivers III

  • Grant funding from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation supported this project, and we are grateful for their assistance. We also thank Edmund F. McGarrell and Jessica Fry for contributions to the early phases of this project. Sally S. Simpson and anonymous reviewers also provided helpful comments on an earlier draft of this article.

Address correspondence to Carole Gibbs, Michigan State University—School of Criminal Justice. Baker Hall, 655 Auditorium Road, #508, East Lansing, Michigan, USA, 48824. Telephone: (517) 355-2199; Fax: (517) 432-1787; E-mail:


Scholars recently called for increased analysis of opportunity structures that produce white-collar crimes in legitimate business systems. In the current research, we use mental models, a tool from cognitive psychology, to describe opportunity structures for white-collar crime in the European Emissions Trading System, the largest carbon market in the world. Specifically, we use routine activities theory to describe the convergence of motivated offenders and suitable targets in the absence of capable guardians in different parts of the system. Implications for utilizing routine activities theory to understand and address crime in carbon markets are discussed.