Carbon Market Mechanisms - Tried and failed, but UN tries again

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

BONN, GERMANY, May 18, 2012 - As UN talks on climate change continued, experts came together to warn of the risks of extending expensive 'market mechanisms' that have not produced significant emission reductions to date.

Speaking at a FERN press conference ahead of a workshop between governments on a "new market mechanism", the experts highlighted the problems with existing carbon-trading systems, and warned of the risks of extending such mechanisms to whole sectors, forests and agriculture.

Speakers included Kate Dooley from FERN, Oscar Reyes from the Institute for Policy Studies and Doreen Stabinsky from the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy.

"Any market mechanism requires targets, or a cap, yet the Durban conference failed to deliver official Kyoto targets so the most important pre-condition of the system does not exist. Talks of continuing market mechanisms or starting new ones is like deciding what to wear before you've been invited to the party. Without strong targets, market mechanisms are just money churn." Oscar Reyes, Associate Fellow, of the Institute for Policy Studies said.

"The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) has been a failure under any metric you look at. Its credit price is lower than a snake's belly and its environmental integrity is about the same - there's little proof it has produced real, actual, additional emission reductions - just see the comments by Indian investors of preparing 'double' accounting sheets." Mr Reyes said.

"A new market mechanism, which could include a 'whole sector' rather than a 'project-based' approach presents new risks because assessments of whether policies are really new or additional are nearly impossible." Mr Reyes said.

"Proposals for a market mechanism in forest credits are a great folly. The cost of monitoring and verifying forest carbon are far greater than the price of carbon on today's carbon markets. The proposals we are seeing from some countries on 'REDD finance' are essentially loans - to be paid back with emissions reduction credits. If the forests subsequently die and emission reductions are not achieved, the countries, or the communities themselves, could be in debt to contract holders." Said Kate Dooley, Climate and Forests Campaigner of FERN.

"Small-hold farmers are facing climate impacts now. These farmers need support to deal with changing rainfall patterns, increased heat exposure, and soil degradation due to climate change they have not caused. Highjacking talks on that support to discuss 'soil carbon markets' so developed countries can "offset" their emissions and have excuses not to cut their pollution at home is a grave injustice." Doreen Stabinsky, Senior Fellow at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy said.

Editorial comment:

Carbon trading is the greatest fallacy that they have ever come up with and is but a form of indulgences, similar to those that were used by the Catholic Church in the Middle Ages, and, like those sold by the Church, carbon certificates allow the buyer to continue sinning, in this case polluting, on the backs of the poor.

While, in the 1970s, the Hippies, who were, to some degree, the very founders of the Green Movement of today, were concerned about pollution per se, from cars, industry, etc., for some reason all everyone seems concerned with today is carbon and predominately carbon dioxide. The reason for this is because some clever people have devised a way of getting rich through “carbon trading”.

Carbon trading needs to be kicked in the head now and we need to consider what really counts and that is cleaning up our act on all fronts.

© 2012