Many delegates from developing countries at the climate talks in Paris have been pushing hard to scrap text about carbon markets, a fight Friends of the Earth International strongly supports. Why? Because carbon markets are essentially a license for polluters to out source their pollution and repackage the ongoing overall damage so it doesn’t look as bad. Today, the fight saw some real progress, though much remains to be done.
Mentions of carbon markets have been removed from the parts of the negotiation text relating to action needed by 2020. Although Friends of the Earth International welcomes this news, it is now crucial to keep up the fight to scrap carbon markets from negotiating texts entirely.
Some of the discussions at the climate talks have seen a shocking lack of transparency with observers, including civil society groups, denied the chance to observe directly. Developing countries are being bullied behind closed doors and the issues of the poorest are being railroaded out of this process. The countries who are serious about addressing climate change know there is no space for false solutions like carbon markets.
What’s the problem with carbon markets?
Far from reducing climate-wrecking pollution, carbon markets are a mechanism that allow polluters to keep polluting, while purchasing the right to do so from countries with lower emissions. Carbon markets offer the opportunity to pretend you are not contributing to the overall levels of carbon in the atmosphere, keep polluting, keep relying on fossil fuels, all the while giving the impression that you are reducing the overall problem by buying someone else’s share of the right to pollute.
Emissions’ reductions are far from being the first priority of carbon markets, which artificially create new investment possibilities for financial markets.
For instance, the European carbon market (the EU-ETS) can reach 50% of its reduction targets for 2020 thanks to the Clean Development Mechanism through which developed countries obtain emission credits by financing projects which fraudulently claim to reduce emissions in developing countries. Real emission reduction efforts must happen domestically, not through offset mechanisms, which provide an easy escape from real emission cuts, presenting an absolute increase of emissions as a relative decrease.
Proposals for carbon trading have no place in a climate agreement that needs to drive carbon emissions to zero by 2050. We note that for the third time in a row at the international climate talks, the group discussing market and non-market approaches has failed to come to a conclusion.
However, carbon market mechanisms remain in the text about action after 2020. Real action on climate change demands real solutions. Fudging the numbers on emissions levels is not a solution by any stretch of the imagination. We do not see any space in the process for continuing to discuss false solutions. False solutions must be completely removed from the Paris text and future climate treaties if we are to see robust action on climate as science and justice demand.
Read more about carbon trading ‘Our climate is not for sale’