The Carbon Folly; Policymakers Have Settled on 'Emissions Trading' as Their Favorite Global-Warming Fix. but It Isn't Working

By Vencat, Emily Flynn; Stowers, Chris | Newsweek International, March 12, 2007 | Go to article overview

The Carbon Folly; Policymakers Have Settled on 'Emissions Trading' as Their Favorite Global-Warming Fix. but It Isn't Working


Vencat, Emily Flynn, Stowers, Chris, Newsweek International


Byline: Emily Flynn Vencat (With Chris Stowers in Raipur)

Global warming isn't the only debate that may be over. Governments and policymakers around the world also seem to have settled on a solution. "A responsible approach to solving this crisis," Al Gore said recently at New York University's Law School, would be "to authorize the trading of emissions ... globally." Emissions trading, also called carbon trading, is being expanded in the European Union and Japan. And in many places where it's yet to take hold, like Sacramento, Sydney and Beijing, politicians are embracing it. Nicholas Stern, former chief economist of the World Bank and Europe's foremost political expert on global warming, predicts that the value of carbon credits in circulation, now about $28 billion, will climb to $40 billion by 2010.

This should be great news for the environment, but many experts have their doubts. The notion that emissions trading is going to make a significant dent in global warming is deeply flawed, they say. Current emissions-trading schemes have proved to be little more than a shell game, allowing polluters in the developed world to shift the burden of making cuts onto factories in the developing world. Too often factory owners use the additional profits banked from carbon credits to expand their dirty factories. Even more worrying, emissions trading may have set back the battle against climate change by diverting investment from renewable-energy technology, which arguably is essential to any long-term solution. So far, the real winners in emissions trading have been polluting factory owners who can sell menial cuts for massive profits, and the brokers who pocket fees each time a company buys or sells the right to pollute. "Carbon trading is a promising strategy for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions," says Dan Esty, director of Yale's Center for Environmental Law and Policy, "but the current structures have serious flaws."

Part of the appeal of emissions trading is that it is a market mechanism that's easy to implement. By turning the right to release greenhouse gases into a commodity that can be traded like gold or sugar, governments need only set caps on the amount of pollution they'll allow and let the invisible hand of capitalism do the rest. But emissions trading is proving to be a grossly inefficient way of cutting emissions in the developing world. For instance, under the Kyoto Protocol, the U.N.-brokered agreement that set limits for carbon and other emissions, companies in nations with Kyoto targets can avoid making expensive cuts to their own emissions by paying companies in countries like China to make cuts instead. This approach has been a boon to developing-world factory owners and international brokers, but the impact on the environment is more ambiguous. Since developing countries don't have any caps on emissions, companies can take the handsome payments they receive from carbon cuts and use the money to build new fossil-fuel and coal factories. India's Gujarat Fluorochemical, for instance, made [euro]27 million in the last three months of 2006--triple its total company earnings compared with the same period in 2005--thanks to carbon credits. That boost in profits will no doubt help fund its new plant for making Teflon and caustic soda, both polluting substances.

One reason emissions trading is so politically popular is that it's vulnerable to lobbying. The European Union's Emissions Trading Scheme, which accounted for two thirds of the global carbon trading that went on last year, or $20 billion, is a case in point. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Carbon Folly; Policymakers Have Settled on 'Emissions Trading' as Their Favorite Global-Warming Fix. but It Isn't Working
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.