Carbon Markets Are NOT Cooling the Planet

Carbon markets have failed – prone to fraud – experts report

Climate change is the world’s biggest market failure so why would we expect carbon markets to save the day? There isn’t going to be a climate treaty for some years yet.It is simply too complex and politically charged. Don’t be too depressed about this. We are in uncharted waters as a species in trying to find an equitable way to manage the climate of our planet. But action is needed now and the best place is at our local neighbourhood level to save energy, use alternatives, build communities and inform people IMHO. — Stephen

By Stephen Leahy*

BONN, Jun 22, 2011 (Tierramérica)

Carbon markets have been widely promoted as the only way to generate enough money to enable industries and countries to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions, which are largely responsible for global warming. The only problem is that nearly 20 years after their conception, they have failed to work, and have also been subject to fraud and other financial crimes.

Interpol, the world’s leading policing agency, has warned that carbon market schemes are easily taken advantage of by organised crime.

Earlier this year, carbon credits worth 38 million dollars went missing in the European Union’s carbon market after funds were transferred by computer hackers from the Czech Republic to Poland, Estonia and Liechtenstein before disappearing. That was the fourth time funds had been stolen or mislaid.

“A lawyer formerly involved in carbon trading told me that if markets are still trading carbon 10 or 15 years from now, then the global environment will be in very big trouble,” Steve Suppan, senior policy analyst at the U.S.-based Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP), told Tierramerica.

“Carbon markets are open to fraud, misrepresentation and deceptive promotion,” Suppan said in an interview at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiating sessions held in Bonn Jun. 6-17.

These markets have had huge support from governments and they still do not work to effectively reduce greenhouse gas emissions, said Suppan, whose organisation works on trade, agriculture and environmental issues.
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Colombian Forest Project Reaps Credits… and Criticism

Procuenca reforestation

By Stephen Leahy*

UXBRIDGE, Canada, May 6, 2010 (Tierramérica)

The “Procuenca Initiative” in the Andes region of western Colombia may be the first in the world to sell certified forest carbon credits with a biodiversity protection component. But alarms are sounding about the potential negative social and environmental consequences.

Under way since 2001, the programme will begin to operate in the international market next year, having received official registration Apr. 16 under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM).

Part of the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change, in force since 2005, the CDM allows industrialised countries to earn credits for reducing emissions of greenhouse gases by investing in projects in developing countries that expand their capacity to absorb the carbon emissions.

Procuenca is expected to auction credits for some 350,000 tonnes of carbon that has been sequestered since the project began, initiative director Francisco Ocampo told Tierramérica through a translator.

At the current market value of 20 dollars per tonne, the total would be 7 million dollars for a struggling community, one that is still suffering from the collapse of coffee prices more than a decade ago.

“This project demonstrates the international importance of these forests for carbon storage,” said Ocampo. Continue reading

Carbon-Credit Gold: Who is going to get rich?

forest-fireBy Stephen Leahy

Paying the poor to conserve forests through a market scheme is the new star among initiatives in climate talks.

UXBRIDGE, Canada, Dec 15 (Tierramérica).- Climate experts meeting in Poznan, Poland, promised to create a new pot of carbon-credit gold for the rural poor as guardians of rural lands and forests.

But there are many who warn that the gold will flow only to corporate interests.

One of the most effective ways to combat climate change, caused by gases like carbon dioxide that trap heat in the atmosphere, is through biological sequestration of carbon in plants, trees and soils. That means reducing deforestation, increasing reforestation, and utilizing sustainable agriculture and grazing practices that conserve soil and water.

If these activities become part of a multi-billion-dollar global carbon finance regime, under a new 2009 climate treaty, there could be extraordinary benefits for the rural poor and the environment, according to Olav Kjørven, the former director of the United Nations Development Program’s (UNDP) Energy and Environment Group. Continue reading

CARBON FORESTS: Can the Free Market Slow Deforestation?

Sumatra burning forest courtesy of Kim Worm Sorensen sml

By Stephen Leahy

IPS 28/10/2006

Tropical forests’ ability to store carbon dioxide and mitigate climate change makes them more valuable than alternative uses like pasture or lumber, and rich countries ought to pay tropical countries to preserve their forests, the World Bank says.

However, some environmentalists caution that while reducing deforestation is vital, a so-called carbon trading system is the wrong approach and too complicated to implement.

The world’s tropical forests have been shrinking at a rate of five percent per decade since the 1950s. In the past five years, more than 50 million hectares of tropical forest have been lost — an area nearly the size of France. Aside from the loss of biodiversity, destruction of ecosystems and other negative impacts, deforestation is a major source of human-made emissions of climate-altering greenhouse gases (GHGs).

In fact, deforestation contributes almost twice as much GHGs as does all road transport around the world.

“The trees are worth more alive, storing carbon, than they would be worth if burned and transformed to unproductive fields,” said Kenneth Chomitz, lead author of the World Bank report released Monday. Continue reading