OK – here’s a real kicker.
Today I finished a major report for a client and decided to celebrate by watching the channel 4 news (yeh – geek girl!). So, they have a story about Carbon Trading – something I know nothing about – I took notes.
Here goes what sounds like science fiction (and will you all just join the online library on Pucheen so I can swap some sci fi books).
Carbon trading came out of the Kyoto Agreement (or disagreement depending on who signed it).
Essentially, this is how it works. The carbon trading market involves big business buying credits for their emissions (read major pollution). If you go under your emission quota you can sell your credits to another industry that is over their emissions quota.
It gets better (weirder).
There are middle men (in business suits) called carbon traders who trade carbon credits as a commodity – well hell, if you can sell pork bellies on the futures market then anything is possible.
Here’s an example. Say a Swedish (bless) paper mill is under their quota. They can sell their excess credits to – say – a British power station (major polluters) who needs more credits ’cause they are emitting all over the place.
The middle men (remember them, the men in suits) then become what’s known as carbon millionaires as they make millions and millions trading carbon credits (can’t the polluting boyos just talk to each other?). There’s a company in the UK called Climate Change Capital (and I’m not even going to try and deconstruct their branding) who trades in over a billion pounds worth of carbon credits (and those boyos do love their commissions and bonuses).
The aim of the whole carbon credit system that was developed by – yup – the Kyoto Protocal – was to decrease carbon emissions globally. In 2006 the power stations in the UK increased their emissions by 6%. Working? I don’t think so.
So, what we have is a market price for carbon credits that has been set so low that polluters just buy up extra credits from the guys who are trying to lower their emissions. The polluters have an easy way out – forget about actually trying to lower emissions – just buy credits.
It gets even better (worse).
Industry in the EU can now buy credits from China and the developing world – and that allows them to emit more – and essentially abrogate their responsibilty.
Russian (under the ‘leadership’ of Putin) has a surplus of billions of pounds worth of surplus credits (surprise, surprise). The Ukraine has around a billion.
If Russia decided to sell all their credits at once – guess what happens? Yup – the whole carbon credit market collapses – a case of supply exceeding demand – price goes to nothing. And given that the price is already falsely low (to incentivise industry to participate – hate that) that’s no surprise. It’d be a release of major hot air – no pun intended – really.
It’s an artificial market and a kind of sop to really doing something about carbon emissions and governments/industries responsibilities. And being a few days away from an election here in Ireland (hope you’ve got your voting card) I can say that leadership and vision is soooooo not what I’m seeing from anyone here.
I have no answers to this one but I was fascinated and repelled by the whole report on Channel 4 and just wanted to share. It has resonances with the whole social housing charges/quotas here in Ireland. So many developers just said – ah well, I’ll pay the local authorities the charge (rather than build a few houses for social housing) and then I can make my millions from the poorly designed buildings I put up and take no responsibility for the ‘communities’ I’m building. And, in the main, the local authorities let them. Really really annoying.
On a lighter note, after working my sweet arse off today I had a lovely time wandering the garden centre with one of the local kids. We spent time looking and smelling the flowers and talking about which leaves we liked the best.
When the world seems too big then my plan is to focus on what I have some influence over – and right now that’s enjoying the people I know in Ballinamore.