When Will Media Report the Kyoto Carbon Con?
There’s a huge financial scam being cynically perpetrated on the people of the world that, for the most part, American media are not reporting: the Kyoto Carbon Con.
What makes this silence so astounding is that the press love stories about corporations and governments bilking people out of their life savings.
Take for example the media’s fascination with Enron in the early part of this decade, or more recently all of the focus on oil company profits and supposed price gouging at the pumps.
Yet, despite the predictable media mania for such financial schemes, press outlets have largely ignored the con game involved with anthropogenic global warming irrespective of the billions of dollars at stake.
Fortunately, as has been addressed before, foreign media seem much more willing to expose the charlatan behind the curtain. For example, England’s the Guardian reported Saturday in an article entitled “Truth About Kyoto: Huge Profits, Little Carbon Saved” (emphasis added throughout, h/t Benny Peiser):
The [Clean Development Mechanism] is one of two global markets which have been set up in the wake of the Kyoto climate summit in 1997. Both finally started work in January 2005. Although both were launched with the claim that they would reduce greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, evidence collected by the Guardian suggests that thus far, both markets have earned fortunes for speculators and for some of the companies which produce most greenhouse gases and yet, through a combination of teething troubles and multiple forms of malpractice and possibly fraud, they have delivered little or no benefit for the environment.
Pretty delicious stuff, yes? Would make a great “60 Minutes,” “Dateline,” or “20/20” story correct? Alas, don’t hold your breath. Why? Read on:
While the CDM is run under the umbrella of the UN, the second market is overseen by the European commission. Before launching, it churned through a mass of figures and produced a maximum number of tonnes of carbon dioxide which could be produced by each nation in the scheme; each nation then handed its big corporations and organisations a set number of permits - EU allocations - defining the number of tonnes of carbon dioxide they could produce between January 2005 and December 2007. But they got their sums wrong.
The carbon market's leading analysts, Point Carbon, recently calculated that this scheme handed out 170m too many EUAs. In the early days, nobody realised quite how badly the commission had miscalculated, and so the price of the EUAs was quite high, at up to €30 a tonne. But individual companies, particularly energy companies, rapidly saw they had millions of tonnes of EUAs that they didn't need, and so they sold their surplus, making huge profits. A 2005 report by IPA Energy Consulting found that the six UK electricity generators stood to earn some £800m in each of the three years of the scheme.
A separate report by Open Europe, in July 2006, found that UK oil companies were also poised to make a lot of free money: £10.2m for Esso; £17.9m for BP; and £20.7m for Shell. And behind this profiteering, the environmental reality was that these major producers of carbon emissions were under no pressure from the scheme to cut emissions.
Should be a front-page story virtually every day, wouldn’t you agree? Isn’t this the type of financial scandal the media just adore? Especially since others are being hurt by it:
At the other end of this EU market, smaller organisations like UK hospitals and 18 universities, who had been given far fewer EUAs, were forced to go out and buy them - while the price was still high. So, for example, the University of Manchester spent £92,500 on EUAs. Now that the truth about the glut has been revealed, the university would be doing well if it managed to get £1,000 for the lot of them.
While this EU market has failed to make any serious impact on climate change, the UN's Clean Development Mechanism has done little better. In contrast to the EU system, which sells permits to produce supposedly limited quantities of greenhouse gases, the CDM sets up projects which are supposed to reduce the quantity of greenhouse gases and then sells carbon credits which allow buyers to emit more gases.
Ten years after the idea was launched at Kyoto; six years after the guidelines were drawn up at Marrakech; a year and a half after it finally went to work: the CDM thus far has issued only 50m tonnes of certified emissions reductions to offset global warming: Britain produces more emissions than that in a single month.
As amazing as it might seem, this was the second piece at the Guardian Saturday dealing with this scam. Here’s number one (emphasis added throughout):
A Guardian investigation has found evidence of serious irregularities at the heart of the process the world is relying on to control global warming.
The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), which is supposed to offset greenhouse gases emitted in the developed world by selling carbon credits from elsewhere, has been contaminated by gross incompetence, rule-breaking and possible fraud by companies in the developing world, according to UN paperwork, an unpublished expert report and alarming feedback from projects on the ground.
One senior figure suggested there may be faults with up to 20% of the carbon credits - known as certified emissions reductions - already sold. Since these are used by European governments and corporations to justify increases in emissions, the effect is that in some cases malpractice at the CDM has added to the net amount of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere.
Separately, one of the CDM's experts calculates that as many as one third of the projects registered in India are commercial ventures which do not produce any additional cut in greenhouse gases and were wrongly approved.
Other errors are said to be more serious, including conjuring up numbers when projects on the ground failed to provide them; giving a green light to commercial projects which make no contribution to reducing greenhouse gases; and approving existing projects which cannot claim to be part of the drive to cut emissions.
Add it all up, and according to these two Guardian reports, billions of dollars are being spent on credits which end up exclusively benefiting the seller without any improvement to the environment. In fact, the whole scam might be adding to “the net amount of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere.”
Are our media all over this? Hardly.
Yet, obviously unfettered by the need to advance the American media’s position concerning anthropogenic global warming, a Russian writer by the name of Alexander Zaitchik wrote the following related article Friday having just attended a conference called “Kyoto: Carbon Market Opportunities for Russian Enterprises" (emphasis added):
For two days I listened to speakers probe the dry nexus between development finance, commodity trading, and environmental policy. It didn't keep me on the edge of my seat, but it did open a window into how the architects of Kyoto imagined Russia's role in the treaty. Boiled down to its essence, they scripted Russia as a poor dirty whore in need of a shower and some nice new clothes. These were treats European governments, financiers, and carbon traders could provide, in exchange for a little something.
The purpose of the Gazprom/World Bank event was to introduce Russia to these Kyoto-era carbon suitors, and to educate local industry about how best to profit from the growing trade in carbon credits. Because what's climate change about if not profit? The global market for carbon reduction credits is worth more than $20 billion and booming. The business bustles at the heart of "market-friendly" Kyoto.
Because most industrialized Kyoto signatories won't sacrifice short-term economic growth to cut emissions at home -- best accomplished by mandatory absolute cuts accompanied by a draconian carbon tax -- Kyoto lets them instead make efficiency investments in places like Russia and China, where it's cheaper to reduce CO2 and where there's plenty of low-hanging fruit. How many tons of CO2 countries save abroad equals how many carbon credits they get toward meeting their own national targets. Targets that they are in reality missing, in some cases by a wide margin.
The idea is similar to the one behind the trendy personal "carbon offset" industry, but transferred to the international level. Just as Brad Pitt and Al Gore can invest in some reforestation project in Tamil Nadu and then declare themselves "carbon neutral" without changing their carbon-intensive lives, so too can France invest in Russia and claim Kyoto success without cutting its domestic CO2 output. Critics of personal offsets and Kyoto's credit scheme have compared them to the medieval Church practice of selling Indulgences to sinners. It's a good analogy. Kyoto's carbon-trading game allows signatory nations to think they're going to heaven while we continue slouching toward likely global warming hell.
Amazing. Yet, for the most part, America’s media are mum on this issue, making one conclude that advancing this green agenda is more important than exposing a financial con that could end up costing Americans billions of dollars.
For those interested, below are some other NewsBusters articles on the financial scam involved in global warming: