Vol.6 No.36, 11 October 2006

Carbon Trading: A Critical Conversation on Climate Change, Privitisation and Power

This new Book "Carbon Trading: A Critical Conversation on Climate Change, Privatisation and Power" co-published by Dag Hammarskj÷ld Foundation, the Durban Group for Climate Justice, and The Corner House, edited by Larry Lohmann is now available for download at http://www.thecornerhouse.org.uk . For printed paper copies, contact The Corner House at [email protected]

The growing debate over what to do about climate change promises to heat up further with the publication of an exhaustively-documented but highly-readable new book, "Carbon Trading: A Critical Conversation on Climate Change, Privatisation and Power".

Written in dialogue format, the 360-page book illustrates how the dominant 'carbon trading' approach to climate change is both ineffective and unjust. Carbon trading is the centrepiece of the Kyoto Protocol and other schemes for tackling climate change, but is prolonging the world's dependence on oil, coal and gas and therefore slowing down the social and technological change needed to cope with the problem.

Carbon trading has two parts. First, governments hand out free tradable rights to emit carbon dioxide to big industrial polluters. Second, companies buy additional pollution credits from projects in the South that claim to emit less greenhouse gas than they would have without the carbon market investment.

Carbon trading "dispossesses ordinary people in the South of their lands and futures without resulting in appreciable progress toward alternative energy systems," says the book's editor, Larry Lohmann of The Corner House.

"Tradable rights to pollute are handed out to Northern industry, allowing them to continue to profit from business as usual. At the same time, Northern polluters are encouraged to invest in supposedly carbon-saving projects in the South, very few of which are actually helping to halt dependence on fossil fuels."

Most of the carbon credits being sold to industrialized countries come from polluting projects, such as schemes that burn methane from coal mines or waste dumps, which do nothing to reduce fossil fuel use.

"Claims that carbon credits from projects in the South mitigate climate change have not been verified", adds a contributor to the book, Jutta Kill of Sinks Watch. Carbon trading impedes positive investment in the South and in energy alternatives while thwarting popular movements against subsidies for fossil fuel extraction. The bulk of fossil fuels must be left in the ground if climate chaos is to be avoided, the book warns.

In detailed case studies from ten Third World countries -- Guatemala, Ecuador, Uganda, Tanzania, Costa Rica, India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, South Africa and Brazil - the book shows how 'carbon offset' projects, such as those promoted under both the Kyoto Protocol and private 'carbon-neutral' schemes, have had a detrimental impact on local communities.
While prolonging industrialized countries' excessive pollution of the atmosphere. Examples include projects burning methane from waste dumps in South Africa and projects supporting the highly-polluting sponge iron industry in India.

Of the huge carbon trading market now created, Indian activist and researcher Soumitra Ghosh, author of one of the case studies, says "This is the most absurd and impossible market human civilization has ever seen. Carbon trading is bad for the South, bad for the North, and bad for theclimate."

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