DANGER: Carbon capitalism
October 8, 2010...11:42 am
Conflicts with Indigenous Knowledge
Trading of Hot Air – Privatization of the Sky
“The modalities and procedures for activities under the Clean Development Mechanisms (CDM) do not respect and guarantee our right to lands, territories, and self-determination. CDM and Sinks projects do not contribute to climate change mitigation and sustainable development” – Paragraph, Tiohtiá:ke Declaration, Indigenous Declaration, UNFCCC, COP11/MOP1, Montreal, Canada 2005
The adoption of mechanisms that allow for carbon pollution trading in the Clean Development Mechanisms (CDM) of the Kyoto Protocol has turned the potential threat of climate change into an opportunity for profit. The trading of carbon and greenhouse gases is a new form of colonialism. It creates CO2lonialism.
Carbon trading enables corporations and governments to avoid reducing greenhouse gas emissions by purchasing carbon credits. These carbon credits can come either from carbon offsetting projects like tree plantations, which are established under the guise of “development” in poor countries.
Many Indigenous peoples reject the claim that carbon trading will halt the climate crisis. This crisis has been caused more than anything else by the mining of fossil fuels and the release of their carbon to the oceans, air, soil and living things. This excessive burning of fossil fuels is now jeopardizing Earth’s ability to maintain a livable climate.
Governments, export credit agencies, corporations and international financial institutions continue to support and finance fossil fuel exploration, extraction and other activities that worsen global warming, such as forest degradation and destruction on a massive scale, while dedicating only token sums to renewable energy. It is particularly disturbing that the World Bank has recently defied the recommendation of its own Extractive Industries Review which calls for the phasing out of World Bank financing for coal, oil and gas extraction. In contradiction, the World Bank facilitates these false, market-based approaches to climate change through its Prototype Carbon Fund, the BioCarbon Fund and the Community Development Carbon Fund at the same time it is promoting, on a far greater scale, the continued exploration for, and extraction and burning of fossil fuels – which will only ensure more of the same failed policies of the North.
Many Indigenous peoples and organizations denounce the further delays in ending fossil fuel extraction that are being caused by corporate, government and United Nations’ attempts to construct a “carbon market”, including a market trading in “carbon sinks”.
History has seen attempts to commodify land, food, labor, forests, water, genes and ideas. Carbon trading follows in the footsteps of this history and turns the earth’s carbon-cycling capacity into property to be bought or sold in a global market. Through this process of creating a new commodity – carbon – the Earth’s ability and capacity to support a climate conducive to life and human societies is now passing into the same corporate hands that are destroying the climate.
Carbon trading will not contribute to achieving protection of the Earth’s climate. It is a false solution which entrenches and magnifies social inequalities in many ways.
- The carbon reductions claimed through the CDM are not real. They rely upon hypothetical baselines that can be manipulated to produce credits for imaginary reductions. CDM projects routinely fail to demonstrate that they are not giving credit for projects that would have occurred anyway, and there is no methodology that can truly show that the projects are additional.
- The CDM shifts the responsibility to act from those who have contributed most to the climate problem to those who have contributed least.
- Using the CDM, timber plantations, for example, are being planted under the guise of sustainable development. These projects are neither “clean” nor “sustainable” nor a means of “development.” This applies not only for CDM sinks projects, but also for most other CDM (carbon trading) projects.
- Sinks are particularly troubling. Confusing fossil carbon with biological carbon results in sinks being phantom reductions which do not actually address the problem of climate change.