At a recent meeting about the challenges that face humanity, someone in the audience mentioned carbon trading as part of the solution. Well, at the risk of being cynical (again!), I’d say that such a statement is naïve.
The fact is that billions of dollars in profits are being made from carbon trading. It has turned out to be one of the biggest money-making scams ever – and who do you think benefits the most from these windfall profits? Yes, you’ve guessed it, the biggest, dirtiest corporations.
There are now Wall Street operators and financial consultants out there promoting a market estimated by some to be worth nearly $180 billion annually and showing no signs of slowing down. These ‘advisers’ are offering eye-watering profits of anything up to 80% in 12 months, which is very appealing in a global economic slump. The price of carbon credits are expected to keep on rising, perhaps by ten times or more based on their original value.
Way back in 2009, The Ecologist ran an article about Lakshmi Mittal, the UK’s richest resident and majority owner of mega steel company, ArcelorMittal. It suggested that, under the provisions of the EU’s Emission Trading Scheme, this already fabulously wealthy man could become £1 billion richer simply by netting what is in effect a windfall profit from carbon trading.
As a result of intense lobbying by giant companies like ArcelorMittal, the EU set the emission caps too high, with the result that heavy industries like steel, cement and glass manufacturers have an excess of permits, enabling them to sell their allowances for a profit. The Ecologist article also quotes a report from the Carbon Trust suggesting that airlines too could benefit from an increase in profits of between 20% and 40% as a result of free allocations of emission permits from the EU.
Meanwhile, our carbon emissions in the UK, in the rest of Europe and around the world continue to rise inexorably. We are never going to meet our reduction targets, because a business-as-usual policy operates covertly under its new green cloak. Are we still happy to trust the corporations and their lap-dog governments to do the right thing? We must be crazy to retain any faith at all in these self-serving profit junkies.