Monday, February 4, 2008

McGill University Lecture - “Forest Fraud – Say No to Fake Carbon Credits.”

The overwhelming majority of governmental and volunteer organizations are naive in their support of Carbon Trading, according to Durban Environmental Group member Jutta Kill, who gave a talk at in the McConnell Engineering Building Friday.

The talk, titled “Forest Fraud – Say No to Fake Carbon Credits,” focused on the effects of Carbon Trading on developing countries, and how polluting industries generate profit from carbon-offset projects.

(The development of Patagonia, Chile is a perfect example: Chile's 21st Century Gold Rush , Kyoto ratification crucial in Australian plans for Chile hydro-development – Carbon Offsets purchased in Europe critical to dam construction. )

“This is just another example of the North using extra land in the South to deal with its problems,” Kill said.

(More here: The Environmental Movement in the Global South - The pivotal agent in fight against global warming? , Indigenous Peoples protest World Bank carbon scam in Bali )

She explained that the Northern hemisphere is using the Southern hemisphere’s unused resources – diamonds, coal, or most recently, pollution credits, whose value fluctuates and has ranged from $2 for up to $30 per credit.

Carbon trading establishes a cap-and-trade carbon credit system, which sets pollution targets, or “caps”, and allows the difference to be bought and sold – so those who emit more can buy credits from those who emit less. This trading can occur between countries, such as under the Kyoto Protocol, or between corporations at the governmental level.

“It’s the ‘polluters pays’ principle turned on its head where the polluter earns,” Kill said of carbon trading after the talk. “This is providing additional capital to those that caused and continue to cause the problem.”

(See: "The Kyoto Protocol has proved totally ineffective on the practical side", says Italy's Enel / Endesa CEO , Italy's Enel (Endesa Owner) Plans to Use Chilean Geysers to Offset European Carbon Emissions by Selling Carbon Credits via Clean Development Mechanism )

Kill cited the European Union’s failed attempt to cut emissions with its Carbon Emissions Trading system in 2005 as evidence of the system’s futility.

She explained that companies like Shell, Esso, and British Petroleum predicted much higher levels of pollution than they actually expected to consume to ensure a higher allowance of credit, while schools and hospitals made honest attempts to cut down on their emissions – and were later forced to purchase credit from larger corporations.

Shell, Esso, and British Petroleum each made several million dollars in sales of carbon credits. RWE, a German power utility company that supplies electricity to many European countries, made $1-billion, aided by the fact that it increased electricity prices for ordinary consumers, she said.

In light of the failures of the first round of the E.U. Carbon Trading scheme, Kill explained that governments slightly reduced the number of carbon credits available for trade – but have instead moved toward carbon offsets, which allow companies emitting more carbon to pay for environmental projects.

Kill called carbon offsets “a dangerous distraction from climate change.”

“There’s no transparency, no obligation to publish or publicize [offset projects], it’s also not possible for anyone to trace whether or not an offset project is selling credits more than once.”

(See: US House of Representatives buys $98,000 worth of Carbon Offsets that went to emission reduction projects that were going to happen anyway. )

In addition, an offset project in Uganda run by the FACE foundation planted trees at the boundary area of the Mount Elgon national park. Indigenous peoples have been prevented from growing their crops and others living on the disputed inside the park have been evicted.

(See: A gift from Scotland to Brazil: drought and despair , Indonesia: WALHI Protest against Kyoto, Carbon Trade, Clean Development Mechanism )

During the question and answer period, Kill stressed that carbon emissions can’t be properly regulated through carbon trading systems.

“The only solution is to keep fossil fuels in the ground,” Kill said.

(And that is problematic: US Cancels Clean Coal Power Plant)

Here is the full article.