Carbon Trade Watch, 'The Sky is not the Limit: The Emerging Market In Greenhouse Gases'

IssueJune - August 2004
Review by Marc Hudson

Any TNI production merits close attention, and this handsomely produced, tightly argued and informative briefing is no exception.

As stated in the introduction;

The Kyoto Protocol has begun laying the foundation for a completely new global marketplace in greenhouse gases. Six gases... will be traded interchangeably in the brokerage houses and trading floors of the world markets. These `environmental markets' are being left to the private sector and neo-liberal government institutions to design with little or no public consultation or accountability.

The authors give various cogent and well-sourced reasons why emissions markets are a Very Bad Idea. Principally, they are full of perverse incentives, a virtual invitation cheat on declared emissions and to export pollution to those least able to protest. Fundamentally, according to one source (p35) “emissions trading does not in fact reduce pollution“.

There are good sections on the origins of trading, the World Bank, and excellent capsule biographies of key corporations, lobby groups and NGOs. It's depressing to read of ostensibly oppositional groups like Greenpeace succumbing - over time - to the blandishments of front groups like the World Business Council for Sustainable Development.

There are, however, numerous problems with the work. It is let down by shoddy sub-editing (groaning cliche's, nonsensical sentences, and variable numbering of footnotes etc). There is no index, no glossary for the alphabet soup of acronyms, no biographies of key individuals, few eye-catching illustrations, and no mention of the Global Commons Institute's “Contraction and Convergence” model ( ). It lacks easily accessible “killer” facts, arguments and slogans that a busy, non-expert activist trying to “win” a pub argument or use a soundbite opportunity would want. It is probably much more suited to fulltime climate change campaigners.

Now, if TNI collaborated with Kate Evans, artist and author of the brilliant illustrated guide Everything you wanted to know about climate change (see ), that would be something.

Topics: Climate Change
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