UK: Friends of the Earth attacks carbon trading

Publisher Name: 
The Guardian (UK)



The government's reliance on carbon
trading schemes is inefficient and could cause a financial crisis
similar to that seen with sub-prime mortgages, says Friends of the
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The world's carbon trading markets growing complexity threatens
another "sub-prime" style financial crisis that could again destabilise
the global economy, campaigners warn today.

In a new report,
Friends of the Earth says that to date "cap and trade" carbon markets
have done almost nothing to reduce emissions but have been plagued by
inefficiency and corruption that render them unfit for purpose.

As
the world heads towards the Copenhagen climate summit, Britain and
other developed countries want to see carbon trading expanded
worldwide. The carbon market, mainly based in Europe, was worth $126bn
in 2008 and is predicted to mushroom to $3.1tn by 2020 if a global
carbon market takes off.

However, FoE fears that the area has
been hijacked by speculators on the financial markets. Sarah-Jayne
Clifton, the report's author, said: "The majority of the trade is
carried out not between polluting industries and factories covered by
carbon trading schemes, but by banks and investors who profit from
speculation on the carbon markets - packaging carbon credits into
increasingly complex financial products similar to the 'shadow finance'
around sub-prime mortgages which triggered the recent economic crash."

The
FoE claims that the first phase of the European emissions trading
scheme between 2005 and 2007 failed. And the second phase, from
2008-2012, is likely to fail too, it said. FoE is calling on
governments to use more reliable instruments such as carbon taxes,
which are harder to avoid and can be effective at changing people's
behaviour and reducing emissions.

A spokesman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change
said: "We agree that domestic action by developed countries as well as
public finance is essential to meet the challenge of climate change and
... the UK is going all-out to get an ambitious, fair and effective deal.

"But
carbon trading can also play a role, making it far more likely that we
tackle dangerous climate change, get cost-effective emissions
reductions and get money to the poorest countries of the world."

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