Get Red Pepper's email newsletter. Enter your email address to receive our latest articles, updates and news.
The post-Bush political landscape in Washington could swing from a ‘head in the sand’ approach to climate change to embracing an untested and unproven global carbon market – with all the incentives and opportunities that this would offer to international institutions, venture capitalists and even green groups.
Previously, US environmental regulators paid little attention to carbon trading. As Democrats formally take over Congress, this position is set to change. Nancy Pelosi, the newly anointed first woman speaker of the House of Representatives has publicly committed to having hearings on climate change.
Machinations are already afoot to forge alliances to develop a framework ready for the eventual change in the federal attitude towards the global carbon market. In mid-November the largest US environmental pressure group, the Sierra Club, convened a gaggle of carbon trading advocates, including former vice president Al Gore, who is now a co-partner, with ex- Goldman Sachs chief executive David Blood, in a business venture called New Generations Investment.
Industry leaders and NGO executives also attended the event, which an internal Sierra Club blog dubbed ‘A Climate Exchange’ – a cute double entendre underscoring its tacit endorsement of the creation of unproven markets in the chief greenhouse gas. According to the blog, the panel’s chief recommendation included ‘the urgency of setting a “carbon price” on greenhouse gas emissions.’
US environmental groups are not just convening ‘heavyweights’ to promote the carbon market. Groups like Environmental Defense (ED) and the Sunoco Oil Company-funded Pew Center on Global Climate Change are going to great lengths to play up the viability of carbon trading, despite growing evidence of its failings. Just before Christmas Charlie Miller, the director of communications at ED, phoned me up.
‘Look,’ he said, ‘I need to have a list of all the successful carbon trading projects. Is there such a list?’ I told him that no one actually tracks all carbon trading projects. ‘Well,’ he quipped, ‘I don’t want to know about all of them, just the successful ones.’ This year ED is set to release a report profiling ‘just projects that work’ to ‘get around those that are questioning trading.’
At the Montreal climate talks in December 2005, the Pew Center’s executive director, Eileen Clausen, presented the findings of its Pocantico Climate Dialogue – a document that, among its many recommendations, argues that future multilateral dialogues over climate change should include only corporations and governments.
There may be a further, financial incentive to hype carbon trading, even if volumes of evidence are mounting against it. These include the analyses gathered in the Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation report Carbon Trading: a critical conversation on climate change, privatisation and power (see ‘Temperature Gauge’, November 2006).
Back in 2005, Google cofounder Sergey Brin acquired, through a third-party, an ‘initial offset purchase [that] corresponds to eight years’ worth of emissions from specific sources related to Google’s operations.’ The offsets selected were from the Greenhouse Gas Credit Aggregation Pool (GG-CAP), assembled by the private brokerage company Natsource. While NatSource would not confirm this directly, sources close to the deal put Brin’s purchase at approximately $100 million—in a pool valued at $550 million.
Why might this influence environmental NGOs? In October 2005, Google inaugurated its long awaited foundation, Google.org, and endowed it with three million Google.com shares – now worth about $1.42 billion – and 1 per cent of annual profits. In a July 2006 interview, Larry Brilliant, the foundation’s executive director told Wiredmagazine that Google.org has ‘three big areas: climate crisis, global public heath and global poverty, not necessarily in that order.’ Green NGOs hope to get a piece of the action.
After years of stalling in Washington, both the new ruling Democrats and US green organisations are desperate to do anything on climate change— even if ‘anything’ means becoming strange bedfellows in dubious schemes whose results are far from clear.
The question on the table is not ‘Is carbon-trading bad or good?’ but who will get rich quick promoting it? And will we be able to find out if it is effective in reducing greenhouse gases before dangerous climate change occurs?Michael Dorsey is professor of environmental studies at Dartmouth College
Tom Palmer, aka Agent Kingfisher, was the 'messiah' of London's squatting scene until his death last year. But who was responsible for his fate? MI5, late capitalism or simply a drug overdose? Matt Broomfield investigates.
'Docs Not Cops' write that we must resist attempts to make our NHS any less universal
Louis Mendee explains the real human costs of climate change for the global south.
From climate change to automation to demographic shifts, Mathew Lawrence explains the challenges our economy will face in the coming decade.
Fifty years after the Abortion Act, women are still dying from being denied basic services, write activists from Feminist Fightback
We need to tackle the patronising ideology that lets Tory think-tanks sneer at social tenants, writes Emma Dent Coad
Acid Corbynism allows people to imagine a future beyond the paltry offerings of capitalism, writes Keir Milburn
'We wanted to use a shared love of the beautiful game to stand in solidarity with those living under occupation', writes Kate Hadley.
Priti Patel's shady deals are business as usual. Enough is enough, writes Eleanor Penny
Boris Johnson is a local disaster and a national embarrassment. He must go, writes James Clouting
Labour Party laws are being used to quash dissent
Richard Kuper writes that Labour's authorities are more concerned with suppressing pro-Palestine activism than with actually tackling antisemitism
Catalan independence is not just ‘nationalism’ – it’s a rebellion against nationalism
Ignasi Bernat and David Whyte argue that Catalonia's independence movement is driven by solidarity – and resistance to far-right Spanish nationalists
Tabloids do not represent the working class
The tabloid press claims to be an authentic voice of the working class - but it's run by and for the elites, writes Matt Thompson
As London City Airport turns 30, let’s imagine a world without it
London City Airport has faced resistance for its entire lifetime, writes Ali Tamlit – and some day soon we will win
The first world war sowed the seeds of the Russian revolution
An excerpt from 'October', China Mieville's book revisiting the story of the Russian Revolution
Academies run ‘on the basis of fear’
Wakefield City Academies Trust (WCAT) was described in a damning report as an organisation run 'on the basis of fear'. Jon Trickett MP examines an education system in crisis.
‘There is no turning back to a time when there wasn’t migration to Britain’
David Renton reviews the Migration Museum's latest exhibition
#MeToo is necessary – but I’m sick of having to prove my humanity
Women are expected to reveal personal trauma to be taken seriously, writes Eleanor Penny
Meet the digital feminists
We're building new online tools to create a new feminist community and tackle sexism wherever we find it, writes Franziska Grobke
The Marikana women’s fight for justice, five years on
Marienna Pope-Weidemann meets Sikhala Sonke, a grassroots social justice group led by the women of Marikana
Forget ‘Columbus Day’ – this is the Day of Indigenous Resistance
By Leyli Horna, Marcela Terán and Sebastián Ordonez for Wretched of the Earth
Uber and the corporate capture of e-petitions
Steve Andrews looks at a profit-making petition platform's questionable relationship with the cab company
You might be a centrist if…
What does 'centrist' mean? Tom Walker identifies the key markers to help you spot centrism in the wild
Black Journalism Fund Open Editorial Meeting in Leeds
Friday 13th October, 5pm to 7pm, meeting inside the Laidlaw Library, Leeds University
This leadership contest can transform Scottish Labour
Martyn Cook argues that with a new left-wing leader the Scottish Labour Party can make a comeback
Review: No Is Not Enough
Samir Dathi reviews No Is Not Enough: Defeating the New Shock Politics, by Naomi Klein
Building Corbyn’s Labour from the ground up: How ‘the left’ won in Hackney South
Heather Mendick has gone from phone-banker at Corbyn for Leader to Hackney Momentum organiser to secretary of her local party. Here, she shares her top tips on transforming Labour from the bottom up
Five things to know about the independence movement in Catalonia
James O'Nions looks at the underlying dynamics of the Catalan independence movement
‘This building will be a library!’ From referendum to general strike in Catalonia
Ignasi Bernat and David Whyte report from the Catalan general strike, as the movements prepare to build a new republic
Chlorine chickens are just the start: Liam Fox’s Brexit trade free-for-all
A hard-right free marketer is now in charge of our trade policy. We urgently need to develop an alternative vision, writes Nick Dearden
There is no ‘cult of Corbyn’ – this is a movement preparing for power
The pundits still don’t understand that Labour’s new energy is about ‘we’ not ‘me’, writes Hilary Wainwright
Debt relief for the hurricane-hit islands is the least we should do
As the devastation from recent hurricanes in the Caribbean becomes clearer, the calls for debt relief for affected countries grow stronger, writes Tim Jones
‘Your credit score is not sufficient to enter this location’: the risks of the ‘smart city’
Jathan Sadowski explains techno-political trends of exclusion and enforcement in our cities, and how to overcome this new type of digital oppression
Why I’m standing with pregnant women and resisting NHS passport checks
Dr Joanna Dobbin says the government is making migrant women afraid to seek healthcare, increasing their chances of complications or even death