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For 10 years Jutta Kill has monitored and critiqued EU’s climate policy and carbon trading with a focus on forests and the rights of forest dwellers. She now works with FERN, a European social and environmental justice organisation. Kill was recently in India to visit communities around CDM projects in the country. Aparna Pallavi caught up with her in Nagpur
Why doesn’t carbon trading work?
The basic argument for carbon trade is that since global warming is a worldwide phenomenon it does not matter where the emissions are reduced. But it creates pollution hotspots.
If the larger energy crisis underlying the problem is to be addressed, the entire energy system—how we produce, distribute and use energy—has to change. The use of fossil fuel has to stop. Carbon trading is a cheaper option than such transformation. It allows the North to keep putting off the expensive switch from fossil fuels to renewables while continuing to pollute.
Carbon offsets are part of carbon trade that are mostly visible in the South. They don’t reduce emissions but move emissions to another place. For instance, a reduction through clean development mechanism, or CDM, project in India allows an extra emission by a company in an industrialised country.
What about CDM?
In theory, CDM projects allow entities in the South to reduce emissions against payments and sell the reductions to large corporates in the North, and in the process help the South shift to sustainable energy infrastructure. In reality, CDM is the largest subsidy mechanism for polluters in the South, and its ultimate beneficiaries are the over-consuming countries in the North. Most CDM registered energy projects in the South are not replacing fossil fuels but merely supplementing them. In key CDM countries like China, India and Brazil fossil fuel-powered infrastructures are sometimes directly financed through CDM.
Isn’t it true CDM allows communities in the South to access clean technology?
On the contrary, the communities rarely stand a chance to benefit. They have no resources to enter international negotiations, no money to pay consultants to prepare technological documents, and very few emissions to reduce.
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