"Bad for the South, bad for the North, and bad for the climate"
The growing debate over what to do about climate change promises to heat up further this week with the publication of an exhaustively-documented new book that says that the dominant "carbon trading" approach to the problem
followed by the Kyoto Protocol and the EU Emissions Trading Scheme is both ineffective and unjust.
The book, published by Sweden's Dag Hammarskjold Foundation together with the international Durban Group for Climate Justice and the UK-based NGO The Corner House, argues that carbon trading slows the social and technological change needed to cope with global warming by unnecessarily prolonging the world's dependence on oil, coal and gas.
Carbon trading "dispossesses ordinary people in the South of their lands and futures without resulting in appreciable progress toward alternative energy systems," said Larry Lohmann of the Corner House, the book's editor.
"Tradable rights to pollute are handed out to Northern industry, allowing them to continue to profit from business as usual.1 At the same time, Northern polluters are encouraged to invest in supposedly carbon-saving projects in the South, very few of which promote clean energy at all."
Most of the carbon credits being sold to industrialized countries, Lohmann explained, come from polluting projects that do nothing to reduce fossil fuel use, such as schemes that burn methane from coal mines or waste dumps. The bulk of fossil fuels must be left in the ground if climate chaos is to be avoided, the book warns.
Carbon credits, added Jutta Kill of Sinks Watch, another contributor to the book, can't be verified to be mitigating climate change. Carbon trading, she said, "impedes the further development of already-existing positive approaches such as conventional regulation, public investment in energy alternatives, taxes, and movements against subsidies for fossil fuel extraction."
"This is the most absurd and impossible market human civilization has ever seen," said Indian activist and researcher Soumitra Ghosh, a contributing author of one of the book's nine detailed case studies on carbon projects in the South. "Carbon trading is bad for the South, bad for the North, and bad for the climate."
Carbon Trading: A Critical Conversation on Climate Change, Privatisation and Power is available for download at http://www.dhf.uu.se and at http://www.thecornerhouse.org.uk. A paper edition will be available from the Dag Hammarskjold Foundation in November.