Cap and Trade - a Deception That Profits Polluters and Carbon Traders Without Curbing CO2 Emissions

Today Ontario announced it will join Quebec and California's dubious Cap and Trade scheme. A scheme that even the Globe and Mail has trouble really endorsing in it's article this morning.'The Story of Cap and Trade' by Annie Leonard [above], Story of Stuff creator, outlines why Cap and Trade is a deception designed to generate profits for large corporations and carbon offset traders while increasing, not decreasing emissions. Consumer capitalism's pollution of the biosphere is a disaster and like all disasters there's money to be made by selling false hope to the fearful.

Annie's quote: “You can only compromise to a point before a solution isn’t really a solution.” leads off  'A devastating critique of cap-and-trade' by Marc Gunther that ends with another quote from Annie's acclaimed video: The danger with [carbon] offsets is that it’s very hard to guarantee that real carbon is being removed to create the permit, yet these permits are worth real money, This creates a very dangerous incentive to create false offsets—to cheat. Now in some cases cheating isn’t the end of the world. In this case, it is.

An excellent analysis of Cap and Trade's deceptions is by Oscar Reyes of Carbon Trade Watch, an organization that seeks a "justice-based analysis of climate change and climate analysis."

Another oft quoted piece, 'Carry On Polluting', by Larry Lohmann, says: "The damaging effects of carbon trading schemes are felt severely in poor countries. The Durban Group for Climate Justice has documented that almost all the carbon credits are generated by polluting companies, while communities that follow climate-friendly practices such as preserving local forests or defending their lands against oil exploitation are ignored. Only big firms can afford to hire carbon accountants, liaise with officials and pay the costs of getting projects registered with the UN. Yet these are often the companies that local people battle hardest against in defense of their livelihoods and health."

Lohmann goes on to cite  Friends of the Earth’s  report, 'A Dangerous Distraction', which concludes that the practice of carbon offsetting isn't leading to global emission reductions or helping developing countries, but instead is leading to more ways to avoid cutting emissions.

Cap and Trade fits perfectly into the neo-liberal delusion that the 'market' is always the best solution. What all cap-and-trade systems have in common is the creation of a new commodity – the right to pollute – that is then sold in a new market from which the traders scoop their cut out if every transaction. The financialization of nature is not about protecting the environment; it is about creating ways for the financial sector to continue to earn high profits.

Cap and Trade plans in Ontario and beyond won't curb CO2 emissions, won't stop any type of pollution of the biosphere, but it will enrich those who level the mangrove forests that protect the coastlines of the global south in order to replant those areas in GMO Palm oil plantations and it will subsidize the leveling of the Amazon for sugar beets that will end up as transportation fuel. Unfortunately pollution of the biosphere is a disaster and like all disasters there's money to be made by selling false hope to the fearful.