June 6, 2007

Carbon Trading Beset by Fraud and Doubt

A new report finds the most common system for trading carbon emissions, which allows rich European countries to continue polluting while also investing in environmental projects in developing countries, has major flaws.

The report finds that as many as a third of the “green” projects approved in India are actually regular commercial ventures, wrongly approved by fraudulent middlemen.

Those concerns led British airline Easyjet to cut out the middleman entirely, buying U.N.-backed carbon credits on the open market and selling them directly to passengers.

The Guardian reports that scientists have doubts about how effective carbon credits actually are.

Widely-used carbon offset schemes, such as tree planting, may ironically increase global warming by trapping heat, the newspaper reports.

But that hasn’t stopped Canada and Australia from jumping on the bandwagon.

British Colombia is creating a carbon-trading registry that would allow residents to invest in green projects within their own province rather than buying credits over the Web.

Last week, Australian Prime Minister John Howard said that a proposed mandatory national greenhouse emissions-cutting program would not come cheap.

The program, which includes emissions trading on a large scale, is predicted to increase the price of travel and cause higher gas prices and electricity bills.

A government official said education would also be needed to induce people to change their lifestyle habits.

Sources:

“Abuse and incompetence in fight against global warming”
Guardian (U.K.), June 2, 2007

“Living costs to rise after carbon trading”
The Australian, June 2, 2007

“Would you like carbon credits with those fries?”
CanWest News Service, May 29, 2007

“Airline slams ‘snake oil sellers'”
Guardian (U.K.), May 7, 2007

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