350 Reasons that Carbon Trading won't Work

03 November 2009
Article

As the UN climate talks in Copenhagen get closer, it is clear that the discourse on climate solutions has been hijacked by corporate interests. Carbon trading is being promoted as the only solution to the climate crisis, pushing aside alternative approaches...and it's proving to be a farce.

As we get closer to the UN climate talks in Copenhagen, it is clear that the discourse on climate solutions has been hijacked by corporate interests. From the boardrooms of major polluters to the offices of the Big Greens we are being fed the lie that the best way, indeed the only way, to solve the climate crisis is to entrust our future to “the market”. Their preferred method is a system called cap and trade. A complex and convoluted system, riddled with loopholes in which companies buy and sell the right to pollute with the end goal of reducing emissions.

Carbon trading isn’t some side issue that can we pinch our noses and avoid thinking about, it is the global architecture for climate policy, pushing aside alternative approaches...and it’s proving to be a farce.

With so much at stake we cannot afford to leave one of the greatest problems humans have ever faced to the market. Carbon trading is a dangerous distraction from real solutions that promote a rapid and just transition away from fossil fuels and to a sustainable future. As they say, the proof is in the pudding. We’ve gathered 350 reasons that carbon trading won’t work. Here are just a few of them…

  • Carbon Trading means more coal
    43 new coal plants in the US? Not a problem for carbon capitalism. Under the proposed Waxman-Markey bill before Congress, 43 new coal plants would be grandfathered in, resulting in approximately 150 million tons of carbon emission every year for the next 40-50 years. In Europe, a whole slew of new coal-fired plants are being justified on the basis that the EU Emissions Trading Scheme is taking care of the problem.

  • Carbon trading doesn’t work
    Carbon trading has proven to be an utter failure in reducing green-house gas emissions. Both the Kyoto Protocol and the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) have resulted in a net INCREASE in emissions. All the while, some of the world’s worst polluters have raked in massive profits thanks to the lucrative trading of carbon credits (while still upping prices for their customers).

  • Carbon trading would privatize the air
    Carbon markets seek to put a price on the planet’s carbon cycling capacity - our global commons, if you will. Carbon trading has allowed rights to these commons to be allocated to the biggest polluters. We’ve enshrined the rights of factories and oil companies, but removed entitlements to individuals and marginalized communities! In decades past, many industries and services have been privatized based on an ideological belief that the market is the most effective way to take care of essential human needs. This has caused catastrophic problems in the Global South in the contexts of water, education and health care (as well as cost jobs in industrialized countries).Some things are too important to be left to the market.

  • Carbon trading puts corporate profits above stabilizing the climate
    Carbon trading was initially created to make emissions reductions more affordable for corporations and other big polluters. With over 1 million species’ (including humans’) futures in question, does it not seem a bit perverse to even have corporate profitability as part of the
    equation for solving climate change? We need solutions that first and foremost address the climate crisis, not making it easy on those responsible for it.

  • Carbon trading is based on an ideological belief in the omnipotence of the market
    Markets themselves aren’t always a bad thing. But they are when artificially created and overly-complex, based on an ideological commitment to solving every problem through the market rather than a natural evolution of trading in existing commodities. Important decisions, discussions and demands around climate change are being swept aside in favor of “leaving it to the market,” despite the fact that the carbon market’s parameters and rules have been largely determined by some of the biggest polluters around, teaming up with the same financiers responsible for the ‘structured investment vehicles’ and ‘credit derivative swaps’ that have brought economies crashing down.

For other 345 reasons go to www.350reasons.org