Friday, January 15, 2010

The same Wall Street banksters that got us into the financial mess are now eyeing profits to be made with climate change and global warming.

For those paying attention to the unfolding disaster of climate change, last year ended with a hideous thud. The Copenhagen debacle which resulted in a largely meaningless "accord", left many climate activists shattered and desperately in need of a stiff drink on New Years Eve. For others, however, spirits remain high as the politics of climate disaster represent profitable new opportunities.

Many of these people, representing some of the most powerful institutions and industries in the world, will get together this week to see just how (and how much) they can squeeze out of the Earth's impending woes. On January 12th and 13th - within the conference rooms of the Embassy Suites Hotel in New York City - the Second Annual Carbon Summit will convene, bringing together representatives from industry, finance, government, and the corporate environmental groups.

Inside the summit, these monied interests will be enthusiastically discussing how to best take advantage of the emerging carbon markets. Marketing carbon involves cap and trade and/or offsets. Under a 'cap and trade' system, (like the one in the House climate bill and the pending Senate version), polluters are required to cap emissions at a certain level, declining over time. Permits to pollute are then proferred (handed out for free or auctioned) to the carbon-emitting industries. This scheme enables a company that cannot easily reduce emissions in accordance with the level of the cap, to instead buy (or "Trade") the excess permits from another company that can comply with the cap.

When permits are unavailable or too pricey, industries can instead pay someone else somewhere else - so the theory goes - to lower emissions on their behalf; these are the "Offsets". In reality, and despite whatever good intentions, offsets do not reduce emissions. At best they simply move emissions from one place to another. Often they provide support for destructive practices like palm oil plantations and provide a smokescreen for ongoing pollution.

Unfortunately, theory and practice in carbon markets simply do not jive. We have plenty of evidence that marketing carbon doesn't work to reduce emissions. Worse yet, it impedes real solutions. And perhaps worst of all, it leads to the commodification of things like pollution rights, forests, soils, agriculture, biodiversity and water resources. It puts a "market price" on those things that should belong to the "global commons". It turns our most vital resources into nothing more than the property of wealthy, polluting multi-national corporations.

Read entire article at

No comments:

add this