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    I found the below a little depressing:

    Alarm on carbon trading scheme

    Tim Colebatch
    July 15, 2008

    ONE of the world’s best-known economists, Jeffrey Sachs, has warned Australia against using an emissions trading scheme to tackle climate change, saying it would never win global support.

    On the eve of the Rudd Government releasing its blueprint for emissions trading, Professor Sachs said the concept was “highly disliked” by China and other developing countries, and they would never agree to it.

    Professor Sachs, economic adviser to United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon, and author of the best-seller The End of Poverty, made the warning yesterday at a conference at the Australian National University. Standing alongside the Government’s climate change adviser Ross Garnaut, who wants Australia to adopt emissions trading, Professor Sachs declared that:

    â–  There would never be a global agreement to introduce emissions trading or carbon taxes to tackle climate change.

    â–  The world instead should seek agreement on goals, and plans to develop and share new technologies, then leave each country to decide how much of the burden it would take on, and how.

    â–  Australia should introduce a carbon tax as a simpler and less rort-prone system, and invest the proceeds in the development of new technology.

    Professor Sachs said any attempt to get an international agreement had to start with the West assuring developing countries that their goals to achieve economic development would take priority over tackling climate change. “I think nobody is going to like this (emissions trading), frankly,” Professor Sachs told the ANU’s annual China Update.

    “It’s such a mess administratively. It covers only a fraction of what needs to be covered. It’s hard to implement. It’s hard to monitor. It’s not transparent, it’s highly manipulative – which is why the banks love it.

    “I can’t ever believe we’re going to get global agreement on these mechanisms. We’re going to get agreement by showing a path, and saying to (nations like) China, first, we understand that your desire to catch up (in living standards) is non-negotiable.

    “Yes, we need (carbon) pricing. I actually believe it will come country by country, and not by a global agreement.”

    Professor Garnaut quickly disagreed, warning that without global agreement, every country would put its own interests first. “China is an essential part of the solution to the problem,” he said.

    In a paper with ANU colleagues Frank Jotzo and Stephen Howes, Professor Garnaut warned that under business as usual, China’s carbon dioxide emissions would more than treble by 2030 – when they would make up 37% of global emissions, three times those of the United States.

    “With China’s emissions now growing at more than 10% a year, they urged it to adopt the goal of cutting emissions growth to half the growth in GDP – slowing emissions growth to 3% to 4% a year over the medium term.”

    But another world-renowned ANU climate change economist, Warwick McKibbin, endorsed most of Professor Sachs’ critique, while warning that without a long-term carbon price, business would not invest to develop clean technology.

    Prime Minister Kevin Rudd made a surprise appearance to close the conference, but steered away from any mention of climate change.

    Earlier, he used a visit to the drought-hit Hume Dam near Albury-Wodonga to bolster his case for a robust emissions trading system.

    Brandishing a new CSIRO report predicting water inflows into the Murray River will continue to drop dramatically over the next 20 years, Mr Rudd said: “The situation in the Murray Darling Basin demonstrates that doing nothing on climate change is not an option.”

    Mr Rudd also appeared to be rebranding emissions trading before tomorrow’s green paper, repeatedly referring to it as a “carbon pollution reduction scheme”, a term also adopted by Climate Change Minister Penny Wong.

    The CSIRO report says water extraction along the Murray has reduced the flow reaching the mouth of the river by 61%. Its best estimate predicts the availability of surface water in the river will fall by another 14% by 2030, with a worst-case scenario predicting a fall of 41%.

    Inflows into the Murray over the past decade have already been less than those predicted for 2030 under climate change.

    Opposition Leader Brendan Nelson, meanwhile, has decided to break his week’s leave to respond to the Government green paper. This followed bad publicity after his office said he would be on leave when the paper was released.

    Support in the electorate for emission trading appears high, with new polling showing 75% of respondents believe Australia should move to emissions trading even if other countries do not. Of Coalition voters polled, 58% supported an early move to emissions trading, despite Dr Nelson saying last week that Australia should not move before major emitters. The poll, conducted by Essential Research, found just 10% of respondents were sceptical about climate change.



    My concern about carbon trading is that it’s hard to regulate.  How do you make sure there is actually a net reduction of carbon being emitted into the admosphere?  Also, it shifts the carbon reduction away from the worst producers.  If we were trying to improve air quality in a large city for instance, but everyone used carbon credits to reduce their impact, you won’t get any air quality improvement because the carbon reduction is occurring elsewhere. 

    In the end, this is going to come down to economics and politics unless people really pay attention.  The environment has always fought with economics, and with the state of the economy so fragile right now, I worry the environment is going by the wayside – even though improving the environment can improve the economy. 

    It’s interesting to see what other perspectives are.  I’m surprised though, because I thought a lot of people were leaning toward the carbon credits.  I mean, if Bush can push them as a good idea, they must be right. *sarcasm*

    I was watching a show the other day that said there are countries that have greatly reduced their energy cost and carbon emissions without breaking their economy, including France and Germany.  Sometimes I think people have just decided it can’t be possible, so they just ignore it and shut down ingenuity from the get go.  I hope those countries can become more persuasive so we can all make the changes needed to adapt to our changing world, no matter what the cause.


    I don’t know how much people on these forums understand about carbon credits and trading but, from what I have read, I fear that there is some confusion. When I was pursuing my degree in Environmental studies, I did a paper on the then proposed carbon credit and trading proposition. I do not view it as a “scheme” and that article does not present enough information that is accurate for one to make an educated decision regarding the issue.

    Here is what the carbon credit and trading proposition is about:

    Each country would be awarded credits as to how much carbon they can produce. Thus country X has just been given credits to produce 14 million tons of carbon for that given year. Country Z is a developing country and has been given credits to produce 50,000 tons of carbon for that given year. If country X does not need all of its credits, it can sell or trade the credits to country Z that may need the credits to facilitate development. Thus, country X will sell 10 million tons of carbon credits to country Z, bringing that country’s carbon credits up to 10,050,000 tons. The total amount of carbon produced has not changed, only where the carbon is being produced has changed.

    In the ideal situation, incentives would be offered in developed countries, such as Australia, many European countries, the United States, etc. to encourage the companies in those countries to utilize scrubbers and develop more environmentally friendly modes of transportation, and so on, in order to reduce the number of credits used. These would leave credits that could then be traded or sold to other countries that need more carbon credits.

    What may occur, though, since this is not an ideal situation and since the U.S. government has a long-standing habit of not enforcing the use of scrubbers and the like, is that the U.S. and other developed countries may choose to keep all the credits, thus depriving the poor countries of the ability to develop further. There is one thing that may prevent this from occurring.

    We must remember that the economy of each country, and especially the U.S., is dependent upon the economies in other countries. If country X does not trade with country Z, then the people of country Z would not be able to participate in the world economy and this could, in the long run, pose a hardship to country X. Especially so if other poor countries can not obtain the necessary credits needed to develop and help their people to have expendable income.

    There is also the question of what country Z will have to trade in order to get credits from country X. There are currently countries that are having to sell off land and other resources to larger nations, and in some cases to large industries, because they bought items on credit and the loans were sold at a higher rate to collection agencies that have pursued these countries relentlessly in order to collect onthe debt. For example, South Africa bought some tractors from an industry in Romania and then defaulted on the loan. The company sold the loan to a collection agency which has put a lien on lands in South Africa that are owned by the government and are producing diamonds. So what will country X ask for in order to trade the credits to country Z? What will the desperate country Z be willing to trade?

    This is where the problems come in. First of all, maybe the large, develop countries will not want to trade the credits or will only trade for “pennies on the dollar” so to speak, asking for material goods in excess of what the credits are worth. This will harm the developing countries greatly.

    Additionally, on the flip side of the coin, wealthier nations that need more credits may put pressure on poor nations and make an offer that the poor nation can not refuse. Take for example Ethiopia. One of the greatest needs in Ethiopia is food and healthcare supplies. If Ethiopia is given enough credits for 50,000 tons of carbon production, what will prevent the U.S. from pressuring Ethiopia to sell them the credits for twice what they are worth in food and healthcare? Now Ethiopia does not have the ability to develop industry because the greedy U.S. presented them with a solution to save their starving and ill populace and the Ethiopian government, realizing that rulers need subjects to rule, took the food and healthcare. Thus, those countries that need humane supplies may be very vulnerable to being pressured into selling the very thing that will help them get out of poverty.

    Measurements of carbon production occurs at the smokestakes, exhaust pipes, and other sources, so each country can have their carbon production measured. In some cases, it needs to be estimated but, for the most part, the calculations are very accurate.

    The problem does not lie in whether there will be a net reduction of carbon, because there would be a reduction, but in whether poor nations will be taken advantage of by wealthier nations. This has alway been my greatest concern with the carbon credit and trade program. Human nature and politics being what they are, I do not see anything good coming from this program.

    What needs to occur is that quotas need to be assigned to each country based upon the population and, when the country exceeds that quota, the country pays a penalty. That penalty goes into a kitty that, at the end of the year, is distributed among the designated poorer nations so that they can develop energy resources that are clean, not dirty. Why should China go through the industrial revolution when the U.S. has the technology to take them beyond that?

    The problem is that some countries are feeling the need to say that this country or that country is not deserving of their assistance. The truth of the matter is that energy conservation is not for this country or that country. It is for the whole world!!!! When we help the people in China skim quickly through the filthy, pollution ridden industrial stage of development, we are not only helping them but also helping ourselves. Short sighted politicians and international officials seem to fail to understand that concept, even though it is the simplest concept around.

    Jade Light


    Personally, I think it’s too much of a hassle.  I agree with Jax that it is difficult to regulate.  I’m mean, think about how many people-in the US alone-that don’t register their taxes.  How many cars are out on the street that no one knows about?  You can’t say that you can regulate the credit cards-in Japan only about half the places here will even take credit.  I’ve even run into a couple of gas stations that require you use physical money.  Some of places the credit card machine might be down.  So what then?  Cashier asks for a carbon credit card(or whatever they plan on calling it).  We’ve got people out there that can replicate a Military ID Card, with all the magnetic strips that can read stuff.  OR they could increase the value of the carbon credits by using a computer to change the reading.  Etc, etc, etc.

    Unless you mean like Corperations, businesses, etc are subject to the carbon credit system only-which I believe I actually read somewhere.  But even then, you’d have all sorts of people cheating the system :/.

    May the Force be with you,
    Setanaoko Mizu Oceana

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