Carbon trade, a free trade scam
By Gopal Krishna
Being complicit in the business of carbon trade even in the second commitment period is akin to being complicit in the opium trade. The fact is environmentalism of any sort that supports carbon trade has been hijacked by ungovernable corporations and financial institutions. Carbon trade is emerging as the biggest free trade scandal that entails commerce in pollutants in the name of stopping dangerous interference in the atmosphere and improving global ecosystem. Genuine environmentalism holds that carbon trade is a fake solution for climate crisis. In fact, it is part of the problem.
The recent frauds in the world's largest emissions trading programme of EU and elsewhere has damaged and discredited the carbon trade regime beyond repair. The journey of climate justice from Berlin where the first Conference of the Parties happened to Doha where 18th session of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC is scheduled is confronted with numerous potholes. The biggest pothole of them all is carbon trade.
Carbon trade is akin to trading of securities or commodities in a marketplace. Emissions trading instruments draw their legitimacy from Article 12 of the Kyoto Protocol. It was/is simply an ill-advised aid for 38 industrialised countries to reduce their emissions between 2008 to 2012 to levels that are 5.2 percent lower than those of 1990. Financial instruments like Certified Emission Reduction (CER) that represents 1 tonne of Co2 equivalent of reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. The current price of per CER is at 3.25 Euro. It is not about environmental protection. It is about creating a purchasable commodity. In such a backdrop, the Indian government's claim that carbon trade helps in poverty eradication is completely misplaced.
Most projects under carbon trade are misusing the inherent parochial provisions unmindful of their cumulative impact in the form of environmental degradation, pollution and loss of livelihood. Delhi's three waste-to-energy incinerator projects to earn carbon credits amidst bitter people's resistance reveal the true nature of carbon trade. They emit greenhouse gases, heavy metals like mercury and persistent organic pollutants like dioxins that subsequently enter our food chain. These projects destroy livelihood of waste recycling workers. Despite this, they got registered as UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)-recognised carbon projects as part of India's 738 projects. These projects are part of India's 2,123 approved carbon credit projects claiming to reduce green house emissions.
Ahead of the 18th session of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC and the 70th Meeting of the UN CDM Executive Board in November-December 2012 in Doha, there is a compelling logic for India to come out with a white paper on the impact of carbon trade on global and local ecosystem. Given evident financial insecurities and the current collapse in the carbon market, India should consider withdrawing from carbon trade.
Gopal Krishna is the convener of the ToxicsWatch Alliance
From Tehelka Magazine, Vol 9, Issue 23, Dated 09 June 2012