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New report exposes flawed carbon trading model

August 3, 2012

Two days ago we posted a story about a West Michigan company that is hoping that carbon trading, also known as carbon offsets, will support their business efforts.

To further corroborate our analysis we wanted to share with our readers information on a new report from the group Carbon Trade Watch.

The report, entitled Green is the color of Money: The EU ETS faliure as a model for the green economy, was released in June, just in time for the United Nation Conference on Sustainable Development, known as the Rio Summit.

Carbon Trade Watch has this to say about the new report:

New research reveals that the EU ETS has failed to reduce emissions while subsidizing  polluters. The third phase of the EU ETS, due to start next year, will see the same pattern of subsidizing polluters (including airlines) and continue to use offsets as a way of evading emissions reductions, within the same financial markets that brought us the economic crisis.

The author of the report, Ricardo Coelho stated: “Carbon trading cannot deliver the necessary phase out of fossil fuels nor can it question the destructive over-production and consumption model that lies at the heart of industrialized countries’ economies. By diverting resources to where it is cheapest to reduce emissions, carbon trading prioritizes end-of-pipe solutions, in detriment of more ambitious and just policies, and actually makes the environmental and climate crisis worse.”

Joanna Cabello, from Carbon Trade Watch stated: “The EU continues to use carbon markets to transfer its environmental commitments to developing countries in the Global South and is pushing the EU ETS as a roadmap for environmental services markets here in Rio. Rio+20 is a smokescreen for big polluters.”

You can download or read the entire report online from Carbon Trade Watch.

In the conclusion they provide several alternatives to the current carbon trading model, alternatives that call for a radical shift in power. The most intriguing recommendations are:

  • leaving fossil fuels in the ground and investing instead in appropriate energy-efficiency and safe, clean and community-led renewable energy
  •  radically reducing wasteful consumption, first and foremost in the North, but also by Southern elites.
  •  huge financial transfers from North to South, based on the repayment of climate debts and subject to democratic control. The costs of adaptation and mitigation should be paid for by redirecting military budgets, innovative taxes and debt cancellation.
  •  rights-based resource conservation that enforces Indigenous land rights and promotes peoples’ sovereignty over energy, forests, land and water.
  •  sustainable family farming and fishing, and peoples’ food sovereignty.


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