Friday, April 27, 2007

Carbon trading: A ‘smokescreen’ but not a shock

Quick link to the FT's recent article on the "widespread failings in the new markets for greenhouse gases".

To be honest, I would have been very surprised if they had found anything different. What exactly did they expect. This is a "straw man" article really. Such new schemes are always going to have teething problems and also attract a certain number of crooks and those after a fast buck.

The article, for those that missed it, is still worth reading.

Industry caught in carbon ‘smokescreen’

The growing political salience of environmental politics has sparked a “green gold rush”, which has seen a dramatic expansion in the number of businesses offering both companies and individuals the chance to go “carbon neutral”, offsetting their own energy use by buying carbon credits that cancel out their contribution to global warming.

Here are the conclusions:
■ Widespread instances of people and organisations buying worthless credits that do not yield any reductions in carbon emissions.

Surely not a surprise even, I suspect, for those that bought them.
■ Industrial companies profiting from doing very little – or from gaining carbon credits on the basis of efficiency gains from which they have already benefited substantially.

Duh - all companies will try and profit from doing very little. Not a shock conclusion. This is called profit maximising and it is of course all legal and above board.
■ Brokers providing services of questionable or no value.

Again, come on, Brokers are there to make a profit and if they can sell something of no value for something they will do so.
■ A shortage of verification, making it difficult for buyers to assess the true value of carbon credits.

What do they expect? Why verify and lose customers when there is no requirement to do so. This is still wild west territory at the moment but it will improve.
■ Companies and individuals being charged over the odds for the private purchase of European Union carbon permits that have plummeted in value because they do not result in emissions cuts.

This was poor planning by the EU and has to go down as a simple "cock-up". They will learn from this hopefully (although not certainly).

For all this it is still useful for the FT to highlight this issue in case there are any idealists out there who thought differently.

No comments: