Monday, December 6, 2010


by Uchita de Zoysa (Convener-Climate Sustainability PLATFORM)

Carbon trading is like exchanging bad karma for the good; while the rich climate sinners keep living their destructive lifestyles, the poor are asked to continue to conserve the environment so the sinful emissions could be absorbed. The price to sin is just a few dollars, and then they get to keep profiting from the prevalent dirty brown economy. If the brown economy is serious being challenged, then the plan would be to green wash it and find another marketplace to keep the exploitation alive.

Trading ecological space for a few dollars
Sadly, some developing country governments are rushing into trading their forest gods and ecological space for a few dollars. That money will not be worth the cost that all nations will have to spend to adapt to climate change. But not like nations and communities, governments are only there for a few years and money matters more to be in power than serving the future generations! During that short period their partners in crime, the corporations, have been generous to show them the way to money. A New York Times article reported that “carbon trading is one of the fastest-growing specialties in financial services and companies are scrambling to get a slice of a market now worth about $30 billion and that could grow to $1 trillion within a decade. Carbon will be the world's biggest commodity market, and it could become the world's biggest market over all.”

Intra-national level climate justice and equity
While some developing country governments are looking at trading their forest gods, Indian mountain ecologist Prof. Jayanta Bandyopadhyay writing to the Calcutta Daily Telegraph had said, “Although about half of the Indian population has historically not emitted any significant amount of Greenhouse Gas Emissions, it will face the greatest impacts of global warming and related climate change. The question of delivering climate justice at the intra-national level is equally significant. The rich in India should not seek protection behind the vast numbers of the poor to present a low per-capita emission figure. India’s demand for climate justice at the international level can be more authentic if steps are taken within the country to advance climate justice and equity”.

Adding to the Indian debate Pradeep Mehta, a consumer activist from the ‘Consumer Unity Trust Society’ writing to the Economic Times said, “as an emerging power, India should also assume the responsibility of leading by example in climate issues. The resulting moral pressure on the rich to clean up their act is sure to have a greater impact than expressions of resolve not to compromise, which have had ‘zero success’ in mitigating climate change. After all, the impacts of climate change through decreased agricultural yield, floods, droughts and desertification will be felt mostly in the tropical zone, and therefore on India, China and their neighbours.”

Changing games of the carbon race
The Chinese President Hu Jintao, last year prior to COP15, pledged that China will change its fossil fuel based development course with significant cuts to their emissions, and that would be only if the developed countries can make their due commitments. China is the largest carbon dioxide (CO2) emitting country today even though their per capita emissions are low. The Americans have helped China to beat them in the emissions race simply by inducing an investment regime that saw a process which is called ‘made by America in China’. Now that the Chinese have inherited a new consumption culture, they would want to experience it for some time and that would increase the pressure on climate.

The world today is a place of inequity and injustice, and a new world needs to ensure equity in consumption, production, trade and wellbeing opportunities for all across the world and across society within nations. The struggle to achieving a better quality of life for consumers in developing countries is clearly denied by the over consumption lifestyles in developed countries. If the rich consumers in the emerging economies start consumer higher and if the consumers in the industrialised countries continue on the current consumption patterns, we will require more than several planets of resources to sustain them. If not, and if they still wish to consume the same volumes on this single planet, they may as well get rid of all the poor, and that would mean to eliminate half of the global population. In such a scenario, forest gods are the last to be remembered and the first to be traded.

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