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350 Reasons is really 7 pointless picture galleries


by Alex Lopatka — Silver Spring, MD, USA

I am surely not convinced that carbon trading is inherently bad, but Rising Tide North America together with Carbon Trade Watch and the Camp for Climate Action is launching a new website called 350 Reasons, which asserts a market-based approach to reducing emissions is just a way to let developed countries use the resources of developing countries to offset their emissions. The website claims that there are no actual reductions in emissions. They use picture galleries of random numbers, cartoons, nuclear waste, smokestacks and more to show why carbon trading is “bad.”

Carbon trading raises legitimate concerns. It is still unclear who would monitor a global carbon market. There are fears of corruption and the possibility of counting an action as an offset even though that action would have happened otherwise (additionality). Some critics fear that speculation would distort the market. However, the well respected economist Paul Krugman addresses some of these issues in one of his blog posts.

All of these reasons do not negate all of the benefits a carbon market would provide. A global carbon market would put a price on carbon emissions and force businesses to pay the true price of their actions. If businesses could not reduce emissions, they would pay others who did reduce their emissions. A carbon emissions cap would be set at the beginning of the year and would decrease with each successive year. Cap and trade markets have worked before and the Chicago Climate Exchange is working now.

Important issues still remain in the implementation of carbon markets, but that is no reason to write them off as bad or give up on them. The 350 Reasons website certainly hurts their argument by only putting up flashing propaganda and environmental pictures. People who are confused about carbon markets should not look to this website to shed any light on the issues.

One Comment leave one →
  1. keelinkelly permalink*
    10/25/09 11:07 pm

    Hey now, let’s not totally belittle the growing leftist critique of carbon markets. It is important. People who are skeptical of the feasibility of carbon markets have a lot of sound evidence on their side.

    For one, capitalist measures to “help” developing nations have been largely unsuccessful. Look no further than the debacles of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. Free market measures implemented by developed nations consistently harm developing nations. I think many of these countries and their advocates have good reasons to fear they will be manipulated by developed nations within an international carbon market.

    Secondly, the success of carbon markets is mixed. The EU system, the largest in the world, has encountered many problems. Also, other cap and trade schemes, like those to reduce SOx and NOx, are not at all analogous to a carbon scheme. Viable and readily available technology existed to solve these problems. The remedy for CO2 reductions is not so simple or straight forward. Also, the Chicago Climate Exchange works on too small a scale to prove that carbon trading schemes will be successful.

    I’ve become increasingly intrigued by the leftist critiques of carbon markets. Sadly, because of our love affair with capitalism the carbon trading scheme is likely to be adopted in the end. Nevertheless, critiques of this system by the left play and important role in helping us examine and understand our present situation.

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