Chapter 1 : Climate Finance & CDM’s

Chapter 1

Climate financing crisis and the CDM’s crash


By Patrick Bond and Khadija Sharife



Is Africa being drawn into a climate policy framework and project funding based on financial markets that mainly enrich speculators and impoverish the continent’s poor people? In the wake of South Africa’s unsuccessful hosting of the December 2011 world climate summit, in which yet again elite negotiators postponed decisions to save the planet from catastrophic warming and ever more extreme weather events, the newest signals from the United Nations, World Bank and European Union suggest that rising fears of – and resistances to – carbon markets in Africa are well grounded.

The context is crucial, prior to any investigation of the mechanics of carbon markets. Africa will be ‘cooked’, as Nnimmo Bassey of the Niger Delta NGO Environmental Rights Action, puts it in a new book.[1] According to UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change director R.K. Pachauri, ‘crop net revenues could fall by as much as 90 percent by 2100.’[2] Climate damage to Africa will include much more rapid desertification, more floods and droughts, worse water shortages, increased starvation, floods of climate refugees jamming shanty-packed megalopolises, and the spread of malarial and other diseases. The danger is imminent, for eight of the twenty countries which the Center for Global Development expects to be most adversely affected by extreme weather events by 2015 are African: Djibouti, Kenya, Somalia, Mozambique, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Zambia and Zimbabwe. In the Horn of Africa, those affected by 2015 by these storms or droughts are anticipated to include 14 percent of Djiboutis, 8 percent of Kenyans, 5 percent of Ethiopians, and 4 percent of Somalis.[3]

In 2009, former UN secretary general Kofi Annan’s Global Humanitarian Forum issued a report worth citing at length, ‘The Anatomy of a Silent Crisis” provided startling estimates of damages already being experienced:

An estimated 325 million people are seriously affected by climate change every year. This estimate is derived by attributing a 40 percent proportion of the increase in the number of weather-related disasters from 1980 to the present to climate change and a 4 percent proportion of the total seriously affected by environmental degradation based on negative health outcomes… Application of this proportion projects that more than 300,000 die due to climate change every year – roughly equivalent to having an Indian Ocean tsunami annually. …climate change … means deterioration in environmental quality, such as reduction in arable land, desertification and sea level rise, associated with climate change.[4]

1.1 Africa as climate change victim

Source: United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

What can be done to prevent this? Our own answer – drawing upon the April 2010 Cochabamba, Bolivia climate justice conference declarations – includes the decommissioning of the CDM mechanism and its replacement with a suitable climate debt payment system that directly channels resources to climate victims without corrupt aid-agency and middlemen or venal state elites.

Instead, those who followed the Durban United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of the Parties 17 (COP17) in December 2011 heard that the solution to climate crisis must centre on markets, in order to ‘price pollution’ and simultaneously cut the costs associated with mitigating greenhouse gases. Moreover, say proponents, these markets are vital for funding not only innovative carbon-cutting projects in Africa, but also for supplying a future guaranteed revenue stream to the Green Climate Fund (GCF), whose design team co-chair, Trevor Manuel (South Africa’s Planning Minister), argued as early as November 2010 that up to half of the GCF revenues would logically flow from carbon markets.

If we take this logic seriously, of most interest for Africans is one small but important component of the emissions market, the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). The CDM’s size as a percentage of total carbon trading volume has been around just 5 percent, and the vast bulk of financing has gone to just four countries, as noted below. The strategy was established within the Kyoto Protocol in 1997. It aims to facilitate innovative carbon-mitigation and alternative development projects by drawing in funds from northern greenhouse gas emitters in exchange for permitting their continuing pollution. CDMs generate Certified Emissions Reductions (CERs) that act as another asset class to be bought, sold and hedged in the market. The European Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) is the main site of trading, following a failed attempt at a carbon tax in Europe due to intensive lobbying from resistant companies. Originally Europe ‘didn’t want the emissions trading,’ according to EU environment advisor Robert Donkers. ‘We were quite cynical about it, but we have implemented it.’[5]


1.2 Explaining carbon markets


CDMs were created to allow wealthier countries classified as ‘industrialised’ – or Annex 1 – to engage in emissions reductions initiatives in poor and middle-income countries, as a way of eliding direct emissions reductions. Put simply: the owner of a major polluting vehicle in Europe can pay an African country to not pollute in some way, so that the owner of the vehicle is allowed to continue emitting. In the process, developing countries are, in theory, benefiting from sustainable energy projects.

The use of such ‘market solutions’ will, supporters argue, lower the business costs of transitioning to a post-carbon world. In a cap and trade system, after a cap is placed on total emissions, the high-polluting corporations and governments can buy ever more costly carbon permits from those polluters who don’t need so many, or from those willing to part with the permits for a higher price than the profits they make in high-pollution production, energy-generation, agriculture, consumption, disposal or transport.

Durban COP17 was utterly useless for committing to the vital greenhouse gas emissions cuts of 50 percent by 2020, for ensuring the North’s climate debt to the South covers the sorts of damages Annan specified under a ‘polluter pays’ logic, and for establishing a transition path to a post-carbon society and economy. Even within the very limited, flawed strategy of carbon markets, there were mixed outcomes from the Durban COP17. In spite of Trevor Manuel’s efforts to bring emissions trading into the GCF, where it does not belong, and in spite of the United Nations CDM Executive Board’s decision to allow ‘Carbon Capture and Storage’ experiments to qualify for funding, the most profound flaw in the existing market was not addressed. Without an ever-lowering cap on emissions, the incentive to increase prices and raise trading volumes disappears.

Worse, in a context of economic stagnation in Annex 1countries, financial volatility and shrinking demand for emissions reduction credits, the world faces increasing sources of carbon credit supply in an already glutted market. And fraud continues, including in Durban’s own celebrated pilot CDM project, the Bisasar Road landfill, which converts dangerous methane emissions into electricity.

As carbon market specialist Payal Parekh of concluded:

Since there is now a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol, the CDM is still alive. The problem is that there are still no targets in the second commitment period; Japan, Russia, Canada and USA will not be participating, while Australia and New Zealand are mulling over participation. Given the current low price of the carbon credits coupled with economic downturn in Europe, there is unlikely to be a demand or need for carbon credits. … The EU would like to have a new market-based mechanism designed under the auspices of the COP to ensure a harmonised global market. Since the EU has also banned the use of CDM credits from projects registered after 2012 in non-LDC countries (projects in non-LDCs that have their crediting period renewed post-2012 remain eligible), it would prefer a new market mechanism under the UNFCCC rather than having to make bilateral agreements with a number of countries… Rather than strengthen commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the carbon markets are being used to further weaken action on climate change. Given that pledges are so weak, it is quite incomprehensible why developed countries are even putting so much energy into expanding markets, instead of increasing ambition by committing to deeper emission reduction targets and closing accounting loopholes.[6]

In sum, Durban left the world’s stuttering carbon markets without a renewed framework for a global emissions trading scheme. Durban turned the Kyoto Protocol – which is now applicable to only 14 percent of world greenhouse gas emissions – into a ‘Zombie’ (walking-dead) because its heart, soul and brain (binding emissions cuts) all died, as former Bolivian ambassador Pablo Solon put it.[7] All that appears to be moving is the stumbling and indeed crashing commitment to CDMs.

These markets can be expected to die completely if Qatar’s COP18 does not generate more commitments to legally-binding emissions cuts. And judging by Washington’s threat, it won’t be until 2020 – the COP26! – when the United States will review its own targets: the Copenhagen Accord’s meaningless 3 percent cuts offered from 1990-2020. By then it will be too late, because the Kyoto Protocol’s mistaken reliance on financial markets means that the period 1997-2011 will be seen as the lost years of inaction and misguided financial quackery – when we urgently need the period going forward from 2012 to be defined as an era in which humanity took charge of its future and ensured planetary survival.

To do so, requires understanding, first, why carbon markets are crashing, then why CDMs ‘can’t deliver the money’ to Africa using a variety of case studies to make the case, and finally why an alternative ‘climate justice’ strategy should be adopted instead. That is the objective of the pages that follow.

Faith in markets dashed by Durban

For those hoping Durban would provide a better global-scale negotiating terrain, the opportunity has been lost. The balance of forces will not improve in Qatar in December 2012, given the prevalence of irresponsible major powers – best represented by Canada’s withdrawal from the Kyoto Protocol just after the COP17 – and the probability that in Washington, Republican Party rightwing climate deniers will prevent further concessions. There are no prospects that the European Union’s Emissions Trading Scheme will turn around in the near future. Only the $100 million World Bank-European Union ‘Partnership for Market Readiness’ continues the myth that markets are an appropriate strategy, through grants to gullible officials in Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Indonesia, Mexico, Thailand, Turkey and Ukraine. As even the pro-trading Point Carbon news services remarked just after the Durban COP17 ended,

such initiatives are essential to ensure new markets get off the drawing board because a nervous private sector has little appetite to invest in new programmes without further political guarantees that someone will buy the resulting credits… while a lot of the focus of the last fortnight of UN meetings was on supply of carbon credits, not one country deepened its carbon target, leaving international carbon offset prices languishing at near record lows – something unlikely to entice investors.[8]

Reuters news service concurred:

Carbon markets are still on life support after [the COP17] put off some big decisions until next year and failed to deliver any hope for a needed boost in carbon permit demand… Many traders and analysts said the agreement will do little for carbon prices which are at record lows, as the two main EU and UN-backed markets are stricken by flagging investments, an oversupply of emissions permits and worries about an economic slowdown. ‘It’s a sedative situation, in which a sick market needs a cure and instead of deciding which cure to use, the doctors keep using pain relief to gain more time to make the final prognosis,’ said CO2 carbon trader Jacopo Visetti.[9]

The EU system was meant to generate a cap on emissions and a steady 1.74 percent annual reduction, but the speculative character of carbon markets gave perverse incentives to stockpile credits, since large corporations as well as governments like Russia (with ‘hot air’ excess emissions capacity subsequent to their 1990s manufacturing collapse) gambled that the price would increase from low levels to doubled or trebled prices (as promoters continually predicted). Instead, now, with the market collapsing, the next perverse incentive is to flood the market so as to at least get some return rather than none at all when eventually the markets are decommissioned, as happened to the Chicago climate exchange. Those who held shares in the Chicago exchange subsequently sued the high-profile founder, Richard Sandor, for misrepresenting the value of their assets – a strategy that should be repeated across the world given the prolific false claims associated with carbon markets.

A month after Durban’s denouement, it was evident to the French bank Societé Generale that ‘European carbon permits may fall close to zero should regulators fail to set tight enough limits in the market after 2020’ – and without much prospect of that, the bank lowered its 2012 forecasts by 28 percent.[10] The 54 percent crash for December 2012 carbon futures sent the price to a record low, just over €6.3/tonne.

Worse, an additional oversupply of 879 million tonnes was anticipated for the period 2008-2020, partly as a result of a huge inflow of UN offsets: an estimated 1.75 billion tonnes. This glutting problem is not only due to the demand deficit thanks to the COP17 negotiators’ failure to mandate emissions cuts, but is also in part due to the lax system the UN appears to have adopted. All manner of inappropriate projects appear to be gaining approval, especially in Africa. According to Professor David Victor, a leading carbon market analyst at Stanford University, as many as two-thirds of registered carbon emissions reductions do not constitute real cuts.[11] For example, more than 70 per cent of accredited CDM projects CERs were to cut nitrous oxide and trifluoromethane (HFC-23), a greenhouse gas used as a refrigerant, primarily derived from Indian and Chinese projects.[12] It was estimated by the CDM Secretariat that a tonne of HFC-23 in the atmosphere has the same effect as 11,700 tons of CO2.[13] Yet according to Benjamin Sovacool and Marilyn Brown, a great deal of the HFC-23 cuts were gamed by Asian producers who produced the gas in order to get CERs by claiming to make cuts. Before it ended in 2011, the value of this scam exceeded €4.7 billion. Sovacool and Brown’s study also evaluated 93 randomly selected CDM projects and found that ‘in a majority of cases, the consultants hired to validate CERs did not possess the requisite knowledge needed to approve projects, were overworked, did not follow instructions, and spent only a few hours evaluating each case.’[14] This problem appears widespread in Africa.

The additional problem, in the wake of Durban, is that many credits issued by middle-income countries are destined to become ‘junk assets’ with national governments writing them off by 2013. After assessing UN Data, Bloomberg news noted both the glut in the market as well as the consequences for ‘phased’ out stocks: ‘A UN program that encourages reductions in greenhouse gases awarded almost twice as many credits this year as in 2010 for projects that destroy industrial gases known as HFC-23 and nitrous oxide…With Europe set to stop recognizing some credits in little more than a year, investors are ‘racing to beat’ the ban.’[15] This junk-sale mentality just adds to the underlying glut. Bloomberg cited investment analyst Geoff Sinclair, head of carbon trading at Standard Bank Plc, who described it as a future ‘junk market’. But until the ban, both credits had racked up over 500 million CERs worth more than €2.5 billion.[16]

Unlike soft and hard tangible commodities such as corn or gold, the carbon credits exists purely on the basis of ‘authorisation’ on the part of national governments. If ‘deauthorised’, the entire credit market – and the justification of hundreds of billions of dollars worth of carbon trades – becomes pure fiction. Chances are that methane – yet another consistently gamed gas – will also soon become a junk asset.

To be sure, the fact that the Kyoto Protocol was nominally extended a few years means that CDMs will continue to be traded, even though from 2007 to 2010 the volume of activity fell by 80 percent. Jonathan Grant, director of carbon markets and climate policy at PricewaterhouseCoopers stated: ‘Thanks to Durban, the CDM will live to see another day, but demand for credits for these projects is lackluster. Carbon markets are expected to stay in the doldrums, because of oversupply in the (European carbon) market as a result of the recession.’[17] According to Barclays Capital’s lead carbon researcher, Trevor Sikorski, there are vast surpluses of credits – at least a billion carbon credits’[18] That problem will be exacerbated by pressure on the voluntary markets from new Reducing Emissions through Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) offsets as well as by the UN Executive Board’s decision to include Carbon Capture and Storage experimentation in CDMs.


The critique from the Durban Group for Climate Justice

Frustration with CDMs in Africa reached a critical mass as early as 2004 when the Durban Group for Climate Justice gathered for an historic meeting. A global civil society network, the Durban Group[19] was formed to oppose carbon trading’s ‘privatization of the air’. From the vantage point of an austere Catholic mission on Durban’s highest central hill, the Glenmore Pastoral Centre, a score of the world’s critical thinkers and activists for environmental justice convened by the Swedish Dag Hammarskjold Foundation, deliberated over the neoliberal climate fix for several days. We worried that the main test case, the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme, not only failed to reduce net greenhouse gases there, but suffered extreme volatility, an inadequate price, the potential for fraud and corruption, and the likelihood of the market crowding out other, more appropriate strategies for addressing the climate crisis. The critique can be summed up in eight points:

  • the idea of inventing a property right to pollute is effectively the ‘privatization of the air’, a moral problem given the vast and growing differentials in wealth inequalities;
  • greenhouse gases are complex and their rising production creates a non-linear impact which cannot be reduced to a commodity exchange relationship (a tonne of CO2 produced in one place is accommodated by reducing a tonne in another, as is the premise of the emissions trade);
  • the corporations most guilty of pollution and the World Bank – which is most responsible for fossil fuel financing – are the driving forces behind the market, and can be expected to engage in systemic corruption to attract money into the market even if this prevents genuine emissions reductions;
  • many of the offsetting projects – such as mono-cultural timber plantations, forest ‘protection’ and landfill methane-electricity projects – have devastating impacts on local communities and ecologies, and have been hotly contested in part because the carbon sequestered is far more temporary (since trees die) than the carbon emitted;
  • the price of carbon determined in these markets is haywire, having crashed by half in a short period in April 2006 and by two-thirds in 2008, by another 50 percent during 2011, thus making mockery of the idea that there will be an effective market mechanism to make renewable energy a cost-effective investment;
  • there is serious potential for carbon markets to become an out-of-control, multi-trillion dollar speculative bubble, similar to exotic financial instruments associated with Enron’s 2002 collapse (indeed, many former Enron employees populate the carbon markets);
  • as a ‘false solution’ to climate change, carbon trading encourages merely small, incremental shifts, and thus distracts us from a wide range of radical changes we need to make in materials extraction, production, distribution, consumption and disposal; and
  • the idea of market solutions to market failure (‘externalities’) is an ideology that rarely makes sense, and especially not following the world’s worst-ever financial market failure, and especially not when the very idea of derivatives – a financial asset whose underlying value is several degrees removed and also subject to extreme variability – was thrown into question.[20]

With Europe as the base, world emissions trade grew to around $140 billion in 2008 and although markets then went flat due to economic meltdown, increasing corruption investigations and Copenhagen-induced despondency, the trade in air pollution was at one point projected to expand to $3 trillion/year by 2020 if the US were to sign on. The $3 trillion estimate didn’t even include the danger of a bubbling derivatives market, which might have boosted the figure by a factor of five or more.[21]

In November 2010, a new estimate of up to $50 billion/year by 2020 in North-South market-related transfers and offsets emerged from a United Nations High-Level Advisory Group on Financing for climate mitigation and adaption, including South African planning minister Trevor Manuel, later a co-chair of the Green Climate Fund.[22] World climate managers evidently hope to skimp on grants and instead beg business to push vast monies into CDMs instead.

As discussed later, Durban is an important guinea pig, not only for hosting the COP17, but for initiating SA’s lead CDM pilot, the Bisasar Road landfill. There, methane from rotting rubbish is converted to electricity and fed back into the municipal grid. As argued by Khadija Sharife, the CDM was set up illegally because it fails the crucial test of its validity for raising international funding, ‘additionality’. It was always assumed that the R100 million estimated cost of the project would not be justified by the small amount of electricity fed into Durban’s municipal supply, and hence that the R100 million would have to come from external sources. But as Sharife notes, Durban officials now concede that the Bisasar Road methane-electricity project would have gone ahead without the external credits. This is scandalous.

After helping set it up, the World Bank refused in August 2005 to take part in marketing or purchasing Bisasar Road emissions credits. The reason was growing awareness of Durban’s notorious environmental racism, via activism and an environmental impact assessment challenge. In March 2005, just as the Kyoto Protocol came into force, a Washington Post front-page story revealed how community organizer Sajida Khan suffered cancer from Bisasar Road’s toxic legacy.[23] Back in 1980, the landfill – Africa’s largest – was plopped in the middle of Durban’s Clare Estate suburb, across the road from Khan’s house, thanks to apartheid insensitivity. Instead of honoring African National Congress politicians’ promises to close the dump in 1994, the municipality kept it open when $15 million in emissions financing was dangled. After Khan died in mid-2007 after her second bout with cancer – which she believed was landfill-induced – Clare Estate civic pressure to close Bisasar subsided and Durban began raising €14/tonne for the project from private investors.[24] More discussion on this case can be found in Chapter Three.

Similar controversy surrounds the Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation programme. In theory, REDD sells investors forest protection. But at Cancún, notwithstanding disagreements in civil society, it was seen as a boon to voracious commercial forestry and a danger to indigenous peoples, given that proper safeguards were not adopted. And everyone from EU climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard (a Danish conservative who hosted the 2009 Copenhagen summit) to Greenpeace warned that REDD could wreck fragile carbon markets, not only due to socio-ecological forest controversies but because a fresh glut of credits would again crash the price.[25] As Hedegaard put it, REDD ‘could undermine the entire carbon market.’[26] Likewise, an emerging idea (mainly promoted by the World Bank) that soil-related carbon sequestration should be rewarded with carbon credits (see Chapter 8) would also flood world markets at a time of both oversupply and receding demand.

Figures 1.3 and 1.4 below show the concentration of CDM projects in a few countries, further analysed in the next chapter..


1.3 Concentration of CDM projets


1.4 Four countries get between 70-85% of funds



Never-ending market failures

In short, the return of market mania to climate negotiations is a dangerous diversion from a daunting reality: the US, China, South Africa and most other big emitters want to avoid making the binding commitments required to limit the planet’s temperature rise, ideally below the 1.5°C that scientists insist upon. Naturally the (binding) Kyoto Protocol is a threat to the main emitting countries, which have been working hard since early 2010 to replace it with the voluntary, loophole-ridden Copenhagen Accord. This is the easiest way to understand the procrastination and lack of ambition in the December 2011 Durban deal.

And naturally, the North’s failure to account for its vast ‘climate debt’ continues. The total on offer from the North to the whole world was just $30 billion for 2010-12, according to promises made in Copenhagen. By the time of the Durban COP17, there was no realistic chance that $30 billion in North-South flows would actually be delivered.

      Climate negotiators should have known that carbon trading was a charade that would do nothing to reduce global warming. What was an incentive scheme meant to provide stability and security to clean energy investors had become the opposite. A low and indeed collapsing carbon price – futures at around €4/tonne in mid-December 2011, down from a peak seven times higher six years earlier – was useless for stimulating the kind of investment in alternatives needed: for example, an estimated €50/tonne is required to activate private sector investments in ‘carbon capture and storage’, the as-yet-non-existent (and dangerous) technology by which coal-fired power stations could, theoretically, bury carbon dioxide emitted during power generation. Substantial solar, tidal and wind investments would cost more yet. The extreme volatility associated with emissions trading so far makes it abundantly clear that market forces cannot be expected to discipline polluters.

The only real winners in emissions markets have been speculators, financiers, consultants (including some in the NGO scene) and energy sector hucksters who made billions of dollars in profits on the sale of notional emissions reduction credits. As the air itself became privatized and commodified, poor communities across the world suffered and resources and energy were diverted away from real solutions. But one of the most powerful set of critiques came from the inside: internal contradictions which created a tendency to repeatedly crash the market and prevent it from carrying out actual emissions reductions.

These problems were sensed, to some extent, by the very founders of the notion of environmental markets. Canadian economist John Dales (who died in 2007) first justified trading in emissions rights by applying market logic to water pollution in a seminal 1968 essay, ‘Pollution, Property, and Prices.’ Waste quotas were to be imposed along with a market in ‘transferable property rights … for the disposal of wastes’, interchangeable amongst firms.[27] Thirty-three years later, he expressed doubts about carbon markets in an interview: ‘It isn’t a cure-all for everything. There are lots of situations that don’t apply. It is not clear to me how you would enforce a permit system internationally. There are no institutions right now that have that power.’[28]

Also in the late 1960s, in the US, graduate economics student Thomas Crocker had famously advocated emissions trading for discrete problems, but in 2009 told The Wall Street Journal, ‘I’m skeptical that cap-and-trade is the most effective way to go about regulating carbon.’[29] And a leading financier with intimate knowledge of financial fraud and market failure, George Soros, argued in 2007 that carbon trading would be ineffective: ‘The cap and trade system of emissions trading is very difficult to control and its effects are diluted… It is precisely because I am a market practitioner that I know the flaws in the system.’[30]

On the other hand, market advocates claimed a degree of success, especially in a US pilot aimed at tackling acid rain. A 1990 amendment to the Clean Air Act legalized trade in sulphur dioxide. A cap was imposed and polluters gradually reduced to the levels required to mitigate emissions so as to avoid acid rain.  They traded their permits. However, on closer examination, this approach was less successful than the parallel European ‘command-and-control’ environmental policy on SO2 based on agreed periodic reductions on “critical loads” allowed in different territories. Critics of emissions trading insist that, had command and control strategies – such as the 1999 EPA’s New Source Review imposition of scrubbers on older plants (with a 95 percent SO2 removal record) – been applied, the results in the USA would have been far more impressive.  Technical changes (use of more natural gas and less liginite for electicity production) also helped to reduce SO2 emissions.

Command-and-control strategies in Europe had faster and more decisive results. Moreover, in the US by addressing only a part of the SO2 from high-emissions sources (about 43 percent emissions reduction from 1990-2007), there were ongoing adverse local impacts of co-pollutants (e.g. mercury, lead, dioxin, nitrous oxide), especially in geographical areas with high concentrations of people of colour.[31]

In spite of the calls for carbon taxes or for the effective command-and-control alternative, in 1997, the Kyoto Protocol was negotiated to include carbon trading as a core strategy to reduce global emissions. This was because then US Vice-President Al Gore threatened that his Congress would only sign up if corporations gained the ability to continue emitting above set limits by paying to buy someone else’s right to pollute. After co-opting critics in Kyoto, the Clinton-Gore Administration and Congress did not keep their word and, later George W. Bush pulled out of Kyoto. But the idea of carbon trading stuck and in Europe the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) was launched in January 2005.

Emissions trading’s flawed friends


One reason for carbon trading’s acceptance as the primary climate-crisis capitalist management technique was the extraordinary support found in the world’s most powerful circuits of capital: finance. As Goldman Sachs critic Matt Taibbi warned in a Rolling Stone article six months before Copenhagen,

Instead of credit derivatives or oil futures or mortgage-backed CDOs, the new game in town, the next bubble, is in carbon credits – a booming trillion dollar market that barely even exists yet…The new carbon-credit market is a virtual repeat of the commodities-market casino that’s been kind to Goldman, except it has one delicious new wrinkle: If the plan goes forward as expected, the rise in prices will be government-mandated. Goldman won’t even have to rig the game. It will be rigged in advance…

Goldman wants this bill…Goldman started pushing hard for cap-and-trade long ago, but things really ramped up last year when the firm spent $3.5 million to lobby climate issues. (One of their lobbyists at the time was none other than [Mark] Patterson, now Treasury chief of staff.)… The bank owns a 10 percent stake in the Chicago Climate Exchange, where the carbon credits will be traded. Moreover, Goldman owns a minority stake in Blue Source LLC, a Utah-based firm that sells carbon credits of the type that will be in great demand if the bill passes…

Goldman is ahead of the headlines again, just waiting for someone to make it rain in the right spot. Will this market be bigger than the energy-futures market? ‘Oh, it’ll dwarf it,’ says a former staffer on the House Energy Committee. Well, you might say, who cares? If cap-and-trade succeeds, won’t we all be saved from the catastrophe of global warming? Maybe – but cap-and-trade, as envisioned by Goldman, is really just a carbon tax structured so that private interests collect the revenues. Instead of simply imposing a fixed government levy on carbon pollution and forcing unclean energy producers to pay for the mess they make, cap-and-trade will allow a small tribe of greedy-as-hell Wall Street swine to turn yet another commodities market into a private tax-collection scheme. This is worse than the bailout: It allows the bank to seize taxpayer money before it’s even collected… .[32]

In an August 2009 report about Enron alumni in the carbon markets, the Financial Times offers not a hint of irony:

‘People who were attracted to Enron and its desire to open new and cutting-edge businesses are also likely to be attracted to the carbon market,’ says Lynda Clemmons, who started the emissions trading desk at Enron in 1994. It also innovated in the electricity, gas and coal markets, to which carbon is highly correlated, which makes former Enron traders particularly suited to trading carbon. ‘They bring a breadth of cross-product coverage that makes them natural candidates to look at emissions,’ according to one industry insider.[33]

Europe’s bad example


Mirroring Enron’s 2001 crash, by the end of 2009, with Copenhagen hosting the COP15, it was clear that the ETS had failed in its main objectives. Severe price swings showed how erratic and unreliable these markets can be. Each of at least five major spikes up and down from 2006-09 can be explained by specific factors, such as the extreme 2006 crash when it was revealed that the ETS had over-allocated free permits, or the 2008 onset of both generalized financial chaos and economic recession (hence lower-than-normal emissions to offset), or the 2009 post-Copenhagen decline.

But even discounting the ETS’s extreme volatility, the more general data began to show a trend towards increased traded emissions. In mid-2009, Grist columnist Gar Lipow explained,

During the three year period where we have verified emissions, emissions among traded entities rose by 1.8 percent. During that same period emissions for the EU as a whole fell… The overwhelming evidence is that the European Trading Scheme is retarding rather than driving emission drops.[34]
Prospects for the ETS were bad because of economic decline and deindustrialization in Europe. The continent’s 2008-09 year-on-year GDP fall was 4.1 percent and industrial output was down 12 percent. The carbon-intensive construction sector was also adversely affected by the real estate bubble’s burst. Given these economic trends, the medium term outlook for the ETS was grim, with even Lord Adair Turner – chair of the UK Climate Change Committee – admitting, ‘the existing particular form of liberalised market structure has reached the end of its road… Prices [will] struggle to reach €20-30/tonne of CO2e by 2020.’ Just a year earlier, Turner’s committee had optimistically assumed a price of €50 by 2020, high enough to support many alternative energy projects.[35]

But faith in the ETS was shaken again and again by more than these economic factors. Unending tales of scandals and market mishaps emerged from dismayed financiers and business journalists. The intrinsic problem in setting an artificially generated market price for carbon was revealed with the April 2006 ETS crash, thanks to the over-allocation of pollution rights. The EU had miscalculated how to set up the market and granted electricity generation firms far too many credits. Carbon lost over half its value in a single day, destroying many carbon offset projects earlier considered viable.

By 2007, the European Commissioner for Energy had admitted the ETS was ‘a failure.’ Peter Atherton of Citigroup conceded: ‘ETS has done nothing to curb emissions…[and] is a highly regressive tax, falling mostly on poor people.’ Had it achieved its aims? ‘Prices up, emissions up, profits up… so, not really.’ Who wins, who loses? ‘All generation-based utilities – winners. Coal and nuclear-based generators – biggest winners. Hedge funds and energy traders – even bigger winners. Losers…ahem…consumers!’[36] The Wall Street Journal confirmed in March 2007 that emissions trading ‘would make money for some very large corporations, but don’t believe for a minute that this charade would do much about global warming.’[37] In October 2008, with the market crashing, Carl Mortished wrote in The Times of London: ‘The ETS is making a mockery of Europe’s stumbling attempts to lead the world in a market-based carbon strategy. It is causing irritation and frustration to the armies of advisers and investors who seek to cajole utilities into big investments in carbon reduction.’[38]

Specific carbon offsets and CDMs fared no better in these investigations. The Economist hosted a debate on carbon offsets in December 2008, in which Michael Wara of Stanford and Kevin Smith of Carbon Trade Watch argued the proposition that they ‘undermine the effort to tackle climate change’ – and by a readers’ vote of 55-45, defeated Henry Derwent of the International Emissions Trading Association and carbon trader Mark Trexler.[39] Not only were voluntary offsets increasingly dubious, but verified CDM projects in the Third World were also considered counterproductive. According to a Newsweek investigation in March 2007, ‘it isn’t working… [and represents] a grossly inefficient way of cutting emissions in the developing world.’ Notorious projects like the Plantar timber monoculture in Brazil secured vast funds, with dreadful consequences for local communities and ecosystems. Newsweek called the trade ‘a shell game’ which has already transferred ‘$3 billion to some of the worst carbon polluters in the developing world.’[40]

In early 2009, the London Times uncovered problems in Mozambican tree planting investments supported by high-profile celebrities (including Ronnie Wood of The Rolling Stones and actor Brad Pitt), including that ‘it is almost impossible to guarantee that the trees will survive the length of time needed to offset any significant carbon emissions.’[41] As a TransNational Institute Carbon Trade Watch report remarked,

These failings are not caused by teething problems, but are symptomatic of the extreme difficulties of assessing the value of ‘carbon,’ which is a commodity that bears little relation to any single real world object. More generally, the scheme over-estimates the capacity of price to achieving structural change in energy production and industrial practice.[42]

The ETS was delegitimized further in September 2009 when the UN’s main verification contractor was disqualified for repeated procedural violations, and in December 2009 when Europol discovered that up to 90 percent of trades in some EU countries were flagrant tax scams.[43] The tide turned further and faster against carbon trading after the Copenhagen fiasco. The failure of the Copenhagen Accord to confirm financing was a major blow to the market, which crashed by 10 percent from December 17-21 2009 as it appeared there would be a serious legitimacy deficit. As The Guardian reported in January 2010, ‘Banks are pulling out of the carbon-offsetting market after Copenhagen failed to reach agreement on emissions targets.’[44] Moreover, due to over-allocation of permits and the ongoing economic slump, the ETS would face further declines in price and so, as Anthony Hobley of the law firm Norton Rose reported, ‘We are seeing a freeze in banks’ recruitment plans for the carbon market. It’s not clear at what point this will turn into a cull or a rout.’[45]
      By March 2010, the New York Times observed of carbon trading:

The concept is in wide disrepute. Obama dropped all mention of cap and trade from his current budget. And the sponsors of a Senate climate bill likely to be introduced in April, now that Congress is moving past health care, dare not speak its name… It was done in by the weak economy, the Wall Street meltdown, determined industry opposition and its own complexity.[46]

According to Senator Maria Cantwell (a Democrat from Washington State who fruitlessly offered her own non-trading alternative bill to Congress), cap and trade was ‘discredited by the Wall Street crisis, the Enron scandal and the rocky start to a carbon credits trading system in Europe that has been subject to dizzying price fluctuations and widespread fraud.’[47]
Shortly afterwards, yet another example of corruption was the Hungarian government’s resale of carbon credits, which when exposed, drove the price of a ton down from €12 to €1 and crashed two emissions exchanges.[48] In December 2010, even the ordinarily pro-trading World Wide Fund for Nature and Öko-Institut attacked steel producers ThyssenKrupp and Salzgitter as fraudulent carbon profiteers, demanding that ‘the EU put a halt to the use of fake offsets.’[49] In late January 2011, the EU ETS was suspended for more than two weeks due to theft of emissions reductions credits from the Austrian and Czech governments, with some of the better-functioning market regulators – e.g. Finland and Sweden – requiring a full two months before resuming operations.[50]
To underline the market’s fragility and vulnerability to fraud, the country that has been the biggest supplier of emissions reductions credits, Ukraine, was suspended by the United Nations from carbon trading in August 2011. The move blocked delivery of more than 78 million units from carbon-reduction projects through 2011, because according to the ICIS Heron consultancy, Ukraine’s government ‘under-reported its greenhouse gas emissions. Experts advising the enforcement branch said Ukraine had failed to act on earlier warnings and it was in non-compliance. The Ukraine argues that many of its actions have stalled due to lack of funding since the recession.’[51]
By that time, it was obvious that emissions markets were in crisis and many credits now represented ‘zombie carbon’, as Carbon Trade Watch’s Oscar Reyes put it:
Proposed emissions trading schemes in the USA, Japan, and Canada have stalled indefinitely; new markets in Australia and South Korea face significant delays; and climate justice activists have successfully blocked the start of a planned scheme in California. Trading has become ever more concentrated around the EU ETS, which could well see carbon permit prices drop to zero if the 27-country bloc adopts stricter guidelines on energy efficiency. Overall carbon trading volumes were lower in 2010 than in the previous year. The CDM, the carbon offsetting scheme at the heart of the Kyoto Protocol, has declined for four years running, with fewer credits purchased from new projects than at any time since the Protocol came into force in 2005. The price of CDM credits continues to fall, and they are now ‘the world’s worst performing commodity.’ [52]

These flaws did not prevent the new ‘sectoral markets’ from being proposed for Durban. For governments from the EU, Japan, Australia and Canada – those advanced economies meant to reduce emissions most under Kyoto but which largely failed to do so – the ideal outcome of Durban would be retention of the Kyoto Protocol’s carbon trading mechanism without its emissions-reduction targets. But without the US taking a lead on promoting carbon trading in its vast financial markets, the other major emitters would not do so.

With the resurgence of Congressional climate deniers in 2010, the US elite debate over the optimal technical fix to climate change ended, apart from California where it was delayed by community activists who argued the state’s Air Resources Board had not considered other (non-trading) options to comply with state climate legislation. But before the debate had died, even pro-trading economists conceded that the US could well repeat Europe’s market and state failures. Denny Ellerman and Paul L. Joskow observed how the ETS’s disastrous mismatches of money, permits and polluters logically follow the EU’s uneven regulations between countries, and ‘the differing effects of allocation and auctioning decisions on a partially liberalized electricity sector are likely to be at least as contentious and complicated in the US as they have been in Europe.’[53] (The Value-Added Tax fraud was made possible through the buying and selling of permits between jurisdictions and making fake claims.)

In several other areas where the EU ETS remains flawed – political lobbying, inadequate revenue generation, ‘rent-seeking activity’ and high administrative costs – the danger remained that these would be repeated in the US, according to MIT economists Sergey Paltsev, John Reilly, Henry Jacoby and Jennifer F. Holak. For example, some inefficient coal-fired facilities should urgently be closed, but won’t be thanks to EU ETS rules:

The cheapest abatement option may be to simply shut down some of the highest emitting facilities, but this rule [trading rights for grandfathered permits] in the ETS creates an incentive to keep them operating at a low level, or to install more expensive abatement technology so that they do not have turn back in valuable allowances.[54]

As for dangers associated with the ETS’s Cap and Giveaway of free permits to pollute, the MIT authors warned, ‘If the allocations are distributed on some ‘grandfathering’ principle to firms at the point of regulation [which was the case in the main 2009 US congressional legislation], then these firms receive the asset value or scarcity rent.’ This would mean that the US follows the disastrous EU lead in ‘paying the polluter for past pollution.’[55] Tragically, US legislators and policy-makers knew of such problems in the EU ETS case and yet still promoted a similar scheme, rather than finding an urgent route to cutting emissions directly. The tragedy is even deeper when one moves to Africa for evidence of faith-based not evidence-based assessment of carbon commodification.

Africans ‘build faith in the carbon market’


Notwithstanding the chaos and corruption, the frauds and frequent market failures, there are prominent African supporters of the emissions trade. For some, this follows the endorsement of carbon trading by international luminaries seen to be friendly to the continent’s interests, of whom the highest profile may well be former Irish president Mary Robinson, who was also the United Nations Human Rights Commissioner and now heads up the Trinity University ‘Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice’. In March 2011, Robinson argued in a London School of Economics lecture that carbon trading is ‘finally starting to reap dividends for Africa and least developed countries…’ and that ‘The experience gained through the design and implementation of successful regional cap-and-trade programs is hugely valuable if shared with developing country regional groups.’[56] She provided no justification for these claims, and several efforts made in 2011 to discern what evidence lies behind her optimism came to naught.

For other African carbon trading proponents, their support can also be attributed to substantial conflicts of interest, which arise due to actors with joint roles as climate cooling advocates and carbon traders. As Michael Dorsey wrote:

After more than a decade of failed politicking [on behalf of carbon trading], many NGO types… are only partially jumping off the sinking ship – so as to work for industries driving the problem. Unfortunately, many continue to influence NGO policy from their current positions, while failing to admit to or even understand obvious conflicts of interest.[57]

For example, there were certainly self-interested reasons for Valli Moosa, South Africa’s former environment minister (1999-2004), to promote carbon trading as minister at the critical 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development. In the latter half of the 2000s, Moosa went on to preside over the IUCN and chaired the board of the continent’s largest energy company and CO2 emitter, Eskom, and became actively involved in the trade as a sideline. Then in March 2010, he was implicated, as a member of the African National Congress (ANC) financing committee, in unethically channeling tens of millions of rands in earnings to the ruling party by signing Eskom purchase orders for Medupi’s new boilers in a way that directly benefited the ANC, which in turn was financed by the controversial World Bank loan.  The SA government’s Public Protector acknowledged that his role was ‘improper.’[58]

In fact, Valli Moosa’s triple role (in the coal industry, in South African politics and in a top position in the IUCN, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature), while being humorous, is not exceptional. The big financing and policy-making role played by the fossil fuel and mining interests (Shell, Rio Tinto and other such companies) in the  nature conservation movement is well known and it is openly in display at the  World Conservation Congresses (as in Barcelona in October 2008).  John Muir would have been horrified.

The rationale of carbon trading extends to the more general idea of “net positive impact” peddled by Rio Tinto, and endorsed by IUCN executives and by the high-profile TEEB project (The Economics of Ecoosystems and Biodiversity) sponsored by IUCN and UNEP between 2008 and 2010. By “net positive impact” is meant that environmental and social damage done in one mining site or oil extraction spot can be compensated for by investment in conservation elsewhere, in parallel to the CDM logic but extended here to biodiversity loss and to human rights. This principle of “net positive impact” will facilitate destruction, in parallel to how CDM projects facilitate climate change.

Moosa’s successor as minister of environment and tourism, Marthinus van Schalkwyk, a youth spy for the white apartheid regime during the 1980s, took control of the National Party in the late 1990s and then dissolved it into the ANC in exchange for the ministerial position. In 2009, he was demoted to tourism minister. An enthusiastic proponent of the carbon trade, Van Schalkwyk argued in 2006 that ‘The 17 CDM projects in the pipeline in Sub-Sahara Africa account for only 1.7 per cent of the total of 990 projects worldwide. To build faith in the carbon market and to ensure that everyone shares in its benefits, we must address the obstacles that African countries face.’[59] At the International Emissions Trading Association Forum in Washington a year later, he insisted, ‘An all-encompassing global carbon market regime which includes all developed countries is the first and ultimate aim.’ [60] Van Schalkwyk was nominated by South Africa to replace Yvo de Boer as UN climate negotiations director in early 2010, but his candidacy failed at the last moment, as Costa Rican carbon trader Christiana Figueres got the position.

In the highest-profile African case of NGO support for carbon markets, the late Wangari Maathai, the former Kenyan deputy environment minister and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, such conflicts were not a factor. Prior to her death in 2011, Maathai, also promoted carbon trading through her own Greenbelt Movement in the expectation that CDMs and emerging proposals for REDD would reward tree-planting in both her indigenous strategy as well as mono-cultural timber plantations. She was also the leading proponent of the document ‘Africa speaks up on Climate Change’, which fed into the ‘African Climate Appeal’, a statement which insists upon more CDM finance with fewer strings attached, especially for afforestation:

African governments should ensure that there is equity in geographical distribution of CDM projects and that this is entrenched in the international policy process. They should negotiate for the requirement of upfront funding of CDM projects to be waived for many African countries who cannot afford it. The appeal calls upon African countries to embark on the development of CDM capacities and projects including capacity building and development of centers of incubation for CDM projects. African governments should explore possibilities of accessing grants to provide upfront funding for CDM projects and also project development and financing through bilateral arrangements. [61]


1.5 African CDMs, 2003-11



1.6 Africa’s CDM share is 1/6th of Latin America’s and 1/5th of Asia’s, per capita



Maathai criticized three existing funds – the Special Climate Change Fund, the Least Developed Countries Fund and the Bali Adaptation Fund – because these funds have not been able to address concerns of African countries on adaptation, namely:

Access, adequacy and equitable geographical distribution. The funds are largely inadequate and inappropriately structured; currently relying on a 2 percent levy on CDM projects. Access to the funds has been made difficult, among others, by bureaucratic bottlenecks of the Global Environmental Fund and the World Bank. [62]

Maathai’s appeals for a more generous and efficient system for Africa were never properly satisfied, for the Bank continues to play the most critical role in carbon market stimulation (see BOX 1). A proliferation of new Bank funds has not changed the basic calculus: CDMs ‘can’t deliver the money’ to Africa. This report shows, in sum, that the emissions markets were the wrong idea (a neoliberal strategy) in the wrong place (financial markets) at the wrong time (the 2000s era of repeated bubbles and bursts).

1.7 Carbon price crash, from Cancun to Durban

Source: Jane Burston, National Physical Laboratory, London

After a review of market players in Chapter Two, the following pages spell out these problems in great detail using case studies from across the continent. We begin in Chapter Three with South Africa’s pilot CDM fraud and environmental racism in Durban’s Bisasar Road landfill methane-electricity project, alongside similar trends in Egypt (where wastepickers, the zabbaleen, have learnt to claim with reason that their recycling activities “cool down the earth”). Chapter Four explains the case of Nigerian CDM corruption of local governance, especially where oil companies are receiving subsidies for reducing their Niger Delta gas flaring – an act which by law they are prohibited from doing in the first place. Chapter Five addresses the emergence of tree plantations and forests within CDM financing debates, with cases from Uganda, Mozambique, the DRC, Tanzania and Kenya. Chapter Six is about two failed CDM proposals both involving exploitation of Mozambique’s gas reserves. Chapter Seven discusses the way mega-dams are being lined up for CDM status, with case studies from Ethiopia and the DRC. Chapter Eight considers the rise of the Kenyan and Mozambican Jatropha biofuel industries which are supposed to decrease carbon dioxide emissions. It also mentions the new “soil carbon” scams considered in Box 1 (below). Chapter Nine concludes. An Appendix shows how  lack of or biased information – especially coverage of CDMs in South Africa’s pro-business media – helps to achieve extremely distorted, adverse outcomes.

[1]. Nnimmo Bassey, To Cook a Continent, Oxford, Pambazuka Books, 2011.

[2]. R.K. Pachauri, ‘Summary of testimony provided to the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming,’ US Congress, Washington DC, 2008,

[3]. David Wheeler, ‘Quantifying vulnerability to climate change,’ Center for Global Development Working Paper 240, Washington, DC,, p.15.

[4]. Global Humanitarian Forum, ‘The human impact of climate change,’ New York, 2009,

[5]. Washington Post, ‘Kyoto credits system aids the rich, some say,’ 11 March 2005,

[6]. Payal Parekh, ‘What Durban means for carbon markets’, 13 January 2012,

[7]. Pablo Solon, Wolpe Lecture at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, 2 December 2011,

[8]. Susanna Twidale, ‘Durban deal delays debate on new markets’, Point Carbon, 13 December 2011.

[9]. Reuters, ‘Carbon markets still on life support after climate deal’, 13 December 2011.

[10]. Catherine Airlie and Matthew Carr, ‘EU, UN carbon prices could fall ‘close to zero’, SocGen says’, Bloomberg, 17 January 2012.

[11]. John Vidal, ‘Billions wasted on UN climate programme,’ The Guardian, 26 May 2008,

[12]. China Daily, ‘China to suffer from fluctuations in EU’s emission trading policy’, 10 December 2010,

[13]. ENS Wire, ‘China Threatens Deliberate Release of Potent Greenhouse Gas’ , 9 December 2010,

[14]. Benjamin K. Sovacool and Marilyn A. Brown. ‘Scaling the policy response to climate change’, Policy and Society, 27, 4, March 2009, pp. 317-328.

[15]. Bloomberg, ‘Carbon credits turning ‘Junk’ as Ban shuts door,’ 7 December 2011,

[16]. Ibid.

[17]. Reuters, ‘Carbon markets still on life support after climate deal’, 12 December 2011,

[18]. Ibid.

[20]. The analyses of emission market contradictions authored by Larry Lohmann are probably the best, Lohmann, L. 2006. Carbon Trading: A critical conversation on climate change, privatisation and power, Development Dialogue, 48, September,; Lohmann, L. (2009a), ‘Climate as investment’, percent20as percent20Investment.pdLohmann, L. (2009b), ‘Neoliberalism and the calculable world: The rise of carbon trading’, in K. Birch, Mykhnenko, V. and Trebeck, K. (eds.), The Rise and Fall of Neoliberalism: The Collapse of an Economic Order?, London: Zed Books; Lohmann, L. (2009c), ‘Regulatory challenges for financial and carbon markets,’ in Carbon & Climate Law Review, 3(2); Lohmann, L. (2009d), ‘Toward a different debate in environmental accounting: The cases of carbon and cost-benefit’, in Accounting, Organisations and Society, 34(3-4): 499-534; and Lohmann, L. (2010), ‘Uncertainty markets and carbon markets: Variations on Polanyian themes’,

[21]. See Nina Chestney and Michael Szabo, ‘Emissions traders expect US carbon market soon,’ Reuters, May 28, 2009,, last accessed October 11, 2009.

[22]. United Nations, Report of the Secretary-General’s High-level Advisory Group on Climate Change Financing, New York, 5 November 2010,

[23]. Shankar Vedantam, ‘Kyoto credits system aids the rich, some say,’ The Washington Post, 12 March 2005.

[24]. Patrick Bond, ‘True cost of Durban’s waste strategy’, The Mercury, 2 February 2010.

[25]. Chris Lang, ‘New Greenpeace report: Trading in forest carbon would crash carbon markets’, REDD-Monitor, April 1 2009,

[26]. Jessica Cheam, ‘Ministers expected to speed UN climate talks, forest deal could be delayed’,, December 7, 2010,

[27]. Dales, J. 1968. Pollution, Property and Prices: An essay in policy-making and economics, Toronto: University of Toronto Press, p.85

[28] Jon Hilsenrath, ‘Cap-and-trade’s unlikely critics: Its creators – economists behind original concept question the system’s large-scale usefulness, and recommend emissions taxes instead,’ Wall Street Journal, August 13, 2009.

[29]. Ibid.

[30]. Hugh Wheelan, ‘Soros slams emissions trading systems: Market solution is ‘ineffective’ in fighting climate change’, Responsible Investor, October 18, 2007, In early 2010, Soros U-turned and supported carbon trading in the US Senate out of desperation to see some kind of climate legislation pass – but was not reported to have retracted his earlier skepticism about regulation. Instead, he was cited as merely desiring ‘a price on carbon’: Business Green, ‘Soros calls for US cap-and-trade scheme: Billionaire promises to get ‘more engaged’ with efforts to tackle climate change’, New York, 15 January 2010, In late 2010, he enthusiastically supported forest-related carbon trading in Indonesia.

[31]. The coal industry initially succeeded in grandfathering in plants built before 1977 so as to avoid CAA regulation, and these old plants were later brought into the cap and trade arrangement. Hence they were allowed to stay open longer by virtue of buying pollution allowances, from more efficient plants. Activists at the US Public Interest Research Group and Clear the Air showed how ongoing environmental health hazards from these beneficiaries of SO2 cap and trade have a class/race bias (Howard Ehrman, [no-offsets] listserve correspondence, 22 January 2010).

[32]. Matt Taibbi, ‘The Great American bubble machine’, Rolling Stone, July 9-23, 2009.

[33]. Markus Sommerauer, ‘A strange alliance making profits for a cleaner cause’, Financial Times, August 5, 2009; and Solomon Lawrence, ‘Enron’s Other Secret’, Financial Post, May 30, 2009,

[34]. Gar Lipow, ‘Cap-and-trade: filling up the political space that should be used for real solutions,’ Grist, May 31, 2009, last accessed October 11, 2009.

[35]. Ibid.

[37]. Wall Street Journal. 2007. Cap and charade: The political and business self-interest behind carbon limits. 3 March.

[38]. Mortished, C. 2008. Policy leap vital for any serious cut in carbon emissions. The Times (London), 5 November.

[39]. The Economist. 2008. Carbon offsets, 24 December.

[40]. Vencat, E. 2007. Global warming: No easy fix. Newsweek International. 12 March.

[42]. Carbon Trade Watch, ‘Submission to Environmental Audit Committee Inquiry on the role of carbon markets in preventing dangerous climate change’, Amsterdam, March 2, 2009,

[43]. Europol. Press statement. December 3, 2009.

[44]. T.Webb, ‘Copenhagen dampens banks’ green commitment’, Guardian, January 24, 2010.

[45]. Ibid.

[46]. J. Broder, ‘Cap and Trade’ Loses Its Standing as Energy Policy of Choice’, New York Times, March 25, 2010.

[47]. Ibid.

[48]. Pointcarbon, ‘Hungary lifts lid on controversial CER deal’, May 14, 2010,

[49]. World Wide Fund for Nature, ‘ETS credibility at stake as industrial polluters profit yet again’, December 14, 2010,

[50]., ‘Update on transitional measure: EU ETS registries of Finland, Romania, Slovenia and Sweden to resume operations on 21 March,’ March 18 2011,

[51]. ICIS Heron,’UN suspends Ukraine from carbon trading’, 12 August 2011,

[52]. Oscar Reyes, ‘Zombie carbon and sectoral market mechanisms’, Capitalism Nature Socialism, 22, 4, December 2011.

[53]. Denny Ellerman and Paul Joskow, ‘The European Union’s Emissions Trading System in perspective’, 2008, Pew Center on Global Climate Change, Arlington,

[54]. Gilbert E. Metcalf, Sergey Paltsev, John Reilly, Henry Jacoby and Jennifer F. Holak, 2008, ‘Analysis of US greenhouse gas proposals’, National Bureau of Economic Research, Cambridge, Working Paper 13980,

[55]. Sergey Paltsev, John M. Reilly, Henry D. Jacoby, Angelo C. Gurgel, Gilbert E. Metcalf, Andrei P. Sokolov and Jennifer F. Holak, ‘Assessment of US cap-and-trade Proposals’, 2007, Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change, MITJPSPGC_Rpt146.pdf, last accessed October 11, 2009.

[56]. Mary Robinson, ‘Protecting the most vulnerable,’ Speech at the London School of Economics Centre for the Study of Human Rights, London, 10 March 2011.

[57]. Cited by P. Bond, ‘A timely death? Obama and carbon trading’, New Internationalist 419, January 2009.

[58]. Ernest Mabuza, ‘Valli Moosa-Eskom ‘Conflict of Interest’, Business Day, February 19, 2009.

[59]. International Environmental Governance dossier,

[60]. Marthinus van Schalkwyk, ‘Speech to the International Emissions Trading Association,’ http://…/sa-van-schalkwyk-international-emissions-trading-association-forum-26092007-2007-09-26

[61]. Wangari Matthei, ‘African climate change appeal’, Nairobi, 2009, p.4

[62]. Ibid.