New Book Exposes Scandal of Carbon Trading

The climate change debate will heat up further this week with the publication of an exhaustively-documented new book which claims that the dominant "carbon trading" approach, adopted by the Kyoto Protocol and the EU Emissions Trading Scheme, is both ineffective and unjust.

The book, published by Sweden's Dag Hammarskjold Foundation together with the international Durban Group for Climate Justice and the UK-based NGO The Corner House , argues that carbon trading slows the social and technological change needed to cope with global warming by unnecessarily prolonging the world's dependence on oil, coal and gas.

Carbon trading "dispossesses ordinary people in the South of their lands and futures without resulting in appreciable progress toward alternative energy systems," says Larry Lohmann of The Corner House, the book's editor. "The huge blocks of tradable emissions rights handed out to Northern polluters allow them to profit from business as usual, yet the market is not promoting alternative energy in the South, either."

Lohmann explains that most of the carbon credits being sold to industrialised countriescome from polluting projects that do nothing to wean the world off fossil fuels, such as schemes that burn methane from coal mines or waste dumps. The bulk of fossil fuels must be left in the ground if climate chaos is to be avoided, the book warns.

There is no evidence that carbon credits are mitigating climate change, according to Jutta Kill of Sinks Watch, another contributor to the book,. Carbon trading, she says, "impedes the further development of already-existing positive approaches such as conventional regulation, public investment in energy alternatives, taxes, and movements against subsidies for fossil fuel extraction."

"This is the most absurd and impossible market human civilization has ever seen," says Indian activist and researcher Soumitra Ghosh, co-author of one of the book's nine detailed case studies on carbon projects in the South. "Carbon trading is bad for the South, bad for the North, and bad for the climate."

Carbon Trading: A Critical Conversation on Climate Change, Privatisation and Power is available free of charge for download A paper edition will be available from the Dag Hammarskjold Foundation in November.