Home > economics of climate change, energy > Carbon credits: Britain’s richest man cleans up

Carbon credits: Britain’s richest man cleans up

The climatologist James Hansen opposes the cap and trade scenario being considered at Copenhagen on two grounds: one, at the real-world level it is essentially a programme for fraud and corruption, and two, it is essentially greenwash and thus serves to postpone, yet again, serious attempts at carbon reduction. Yesterday’s Sunday Times provides supporting evidence for Hansen assertion that cap and trade is a system for “paying off numerous special interests”. 

Note that The Sunday Times is a Murdock paper and so may tend to play down scams when executed on a sufficiently collousal scale. Yesterday, however, it reported that “Britain’s richest man stands to benefit from a £1 billion windfall” from carbon credits given to his steel company ArcelorMittal after having “lobbied intensively in Brussels”. The paper reports that the payoff for this lobbying will be around £1 billion by 2012, but that the eventual value could be much greater. Anna Pearson, an emissions trading scheme (ETS) expert who has analyzed this case, says:

Between 2008 and 2012 ArcelorMittal stands to gain assets worth £1 billion at today’s prices for scant effort.  For them, the ETS has been turned into a system for generating free subsidies.

“Scant effort” will not save us from ecological collapse.  

Hansen says:

The corporations see emissions trading as a huge opportunity to boost profits.

The present case illustrates his point.  In fact, reducing emissions does not seem even to enter the equation.  Officials in Brussels, reports The Sunday Times, have given ArcelorMittal the right to emit 90 million tonnes of CO annually from its EU plants from 2008 to 2012.  But last year the company emitted only 68 million tonnes and this year is predicted to emit only 43 million tonnes.  That’s £1 billion pounds, minus lobbying expenses, for less than nothing. 

In the light of this case one can imagine why officials and politicians in Australia have been willing to go to extreme lengths to suppress Clive Spash’s paper (‘The Brave New World of Carbon Trading’) on carbon trading down under.

Censorship of Critique of Emissions Trading and Carbon-Offsets Schemes
Update on Censorship of Critique of Emssions Trading Schemes

  1. Ken Zimmerman
    December 10, 2009 at 2:25 am

    Cap-and-Trade rests on one foundation of capitalism, the drive for profit. That’s okay, if we include the other foundation of capitalism in the equation, the loss of profit (up to and beyond bankruptcy) when the captialist firm fails to meet market or governmental requirments. A carbon tax, that simple mechanism that Sarah Palin hates, includes both foundations and thus fits much better within a capitalist system and would do a better job at directing and enforcing corporate behavior. Change the system and cap-and-trade might work.

  2. December 11, 2009 at 11:57 am

    Though I am “anti-capitalist” I am afraid that success in dealing with emissions trading(etc) needs to be done in such a way as to benefit capitalists as well as the world. This could probably be achieved in the end with a new understanding of capital (see Transfinancial Economics Project). Grassroots attempts to reform it would largely fail probably even though this would be the most ethical approach.

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