Category Archives: Carbon Trading

South Baltimore incinerator opponents applaud Stop-Work Order

Note: Considering that carbon offsets are a ridiculous scam designed to allow industries to buy an excuse to keep polluting, it is ironic that they were used to stop a polluting incinerator.  Living green carbon cannot be used to offset fossilized carbon that has been released into the atmosphere after being stored in the Earth for millennia–especially when that living green carbon (i.e. native forests, grasslands, etc) is being recklessly and ruthlessly destroyed.

–The GJEP Team

In December, students left flowers at the fence of a former chemical plant in South Baltimore where a trash incinerator is proposed. In December, students left flowers at the fence of a former chemical plant in South Baltimore where a trash incinerator is proposed. Photo by Fern Shen

Photo by Fern Shen

By Fern Shen, June 26, 2014. Source: Baltimore Brew

 

Opponents of the trash-burning incinerator being built near Curtis Bay are rallying there today following an announcement this week that the Maryland Department of the Environment is halting construction because the company had not purchased enough energy offsets to make up for the pollution the plant’s emissions are expected to generate.

“The failure to purchase pollution offsets calls into question the validity of the construction permit, as well as the company’s ability to comply with the Clean Air Act going forward,” said Leah Kelly of the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP), announcing a news conference this afternoon at Benjamin Franklin High School.

EIP and United Workers (through their youth-powered human rights committee, Free Your Voice) have been organizing in opposition to the Fairfield Renewable Energy Project, which they say will generate dangerous toxic emissions in an area already burdened with high levels of industrial pollutants.

The Albany, N.Y.-based company building it, Energy Answers, says the 120-megawatt plant will remain within the legal limit for emissions and free up landfill space by burning trash.

Destiny Watford, a long-time resident of Curtis Bay and member of Free Your Voice, said in a news release that the order by the state is good reason for a victory lap.

“This ruling marks one step within our larger fight for the human right to clean air and to live in a healthy community,” she said.

$8 Million Violation, Offer to Settle

First proposed in 2009, the long-delayed project began construction in August. According to MDE, Energy Answers International was required to buy credits representing more than 1,500 tons of emissions of pollutants, including nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds, as well as particulates.

But in a June 19 letter to Energy Answers, MDE said Sasol North America notified the state on June 2 that Energy Answers failed to buy about 80 tons of emissions offsets that it had said it would buy from the Houston-based chemical company.

MDE could fine Energy Answers more than $8 million for the violation – $25,000 for each day since construction began last year, letter said. MDE’s letter offers the company a chance to pursue a settlement of the violations, but opponents say they plan to argue that the construction permit is invalid.

In December, along with Unite Here Local 7, the opponents marched from Benjamin Franklin High School to the plant, described meeting door-to-door with 20 area residents and collecting nearly 2,000 signatures on a petition calling for a halt to the project.

Last month, a group of students armed with research, a video and a spirited musical performance went to a city school board meeting to protest the board’s agreement to buy power from the Fairfield plant.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Actions / Protest, Carbon Trading

U.N. climate talks fracture over future of carbon markets

By Ben Garside, June 15, 2014. Source: Reuters

Photo from CBC

Photo from CBC

The use of carbon markets to curb rising greenhouse gas emissions was dealt a blow on Sunday after two weeks of United Nations talks on designing and reforming the mechanisms ended in deadlock.

The negotiations, held as part of U.N. climate negotiations in Bonn, Germany, made scant progress as envoys representing almost 200 nations tied reforms to progress under the wider discussions and remained entrenched in diverse positions.

The stalemate gives investors little sign that there will be a pickup in demand under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), the U.N.’s current main carbon market which has seen activity dry up after funnelling over $400 billion into emission-cutting projects in developing countries over the past decade.

It also offers no guidance on how the growing patchwork of national and regional carbon markets worldwide will fit into a future international framework to tackle climate change. Continue reading

Leave a Comment

Filed under Carbon Trading, Climate Change, False Solutions to Climate Change

Opposition mounts as California’s cap-and-trade law adopts methane capture from coal mining, rice farming

April 25, 2014. Source: Indigenous Environmental Network

Photo: Langelle/GJEP

Photo: Langelle/GJEP

Global civil society, Indigenous Peoples, environmental organizations and social movements from over 30 countries slammed the State of California’s plans to include methane offsets from coal mining and rice cultivation in its cap-and-trade program because they are false solutions to climate change that greenwash mining and use food for carbon trading.

“The peoples of the world reject offsets and carbon traders, big polluting corporations like mining companies and oil giants Shell and Chevron, defend offsets,” notes Americans against Offsets.

This resounding international outcry has already opposed other forms of offsets in California’s Global Warming Solutions Act (AB32) including offsets from urban trees, domestic and Canadian forests, and REDD (Reducing Emissions form Deforestation and Degradation) in countries such as Mexico, Brazil and other tropical forest countries. Furthermore, the Environmental Justice Advisory Committee of AB32 echoed this opposition to offsets when it submitted its final recommendations to the California Air Resource Board on April 11, 2014.

“Offsets are a carbon trading scam to supposedly compensate greenhouse gas emissions and are used by polluters instead of reducing pollution at source”, says Tom BK Goldtooth, executive director of the Indigenous Environmental Network, who has 16 years of experience participating in national and United Nations climate negotiations.

Continue reading

Leave a Comment

Filed under Carbon Trading, Climate Change, Coal, False Solutions to Climate Change, Forests and Climate Change, Greenwashing, Indigenous Peoples, REDD, UNFCCC

Cleaning dirty gas enabling CO2 sales to dirtier oil producers

Note: This sentence pretty much sums it all up: “He’s betting hydrocarbon consumers will increasingly opt to trap emissions from natural gas, if not to help the environment then to duck potential government sanctions — or to sell CO2 at a profit.

Capturing carbon from gas used to extract tar sands–and using that gas to extract more tar sands!  We wish this one was for April Fools.

-The GJEP Team

By John Lippert, April 1, 2014. Source: Bloomberg

Drillers burn off the natural gas that surfaces with oil on a farm in North Dakota. Photo: Spencer Lowell/Bloomberg Markets

Drillers burn off the natural gas that surfaces with oil on a farm in North Dakota. Photo: Spencer Lowell/Bloomberg Markets

Andre Boulet, chief executive officer of Inventys Thermal Technologies Inc. in Burnaby, British Columbia, holds up a 6-inch piece of charcoal, showing how light passes through toothpick-sized air shafts. He says the crevices in this filter offer a cheap way to capture carbon dioxide before it ascends into the atmosphere and haunts future generations.

Boulet, who has spent $12 million on his seven-year-old company, predicts Inventys’s sales may reach hundreds of millions of dollars in five years — driven in part by North America’s natural gas boom, Bloomberg Markets magazine will report in its May issue.

President Barack Obama calls gas a bridge fuel for the U.S. economy. Power plants, factories and refineries are jumping onboard, lured by a 73 percent plunge in U.S. prices from 2005 to March 31. The country generated 28 percent of electricity with gas in 2013, up from 22 percent six years earlier, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

Buoyed by gas, the fossil-fuel industry is trying to bask in a newfound green image.
Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Carbon Trading, Climate Change, Coal, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Hydrofracking, Tar Sands

Are Norway’s REDD deals reducing deforestation?

By Chris Lang, March 6, 2014. Source: Development Today

Protest outside of a Norwegian government meeting to promote REDD in Oslo, Norway highlights the social and ecological costs of the REDD scheme and draws attention to a scandalous Norske Hydro project that threatens to destroy Amazon rainforest in Brazil. Photo Courtesy: Friends of the Earth Norway

Protest outside of a Norwegian government meeting to promote REDD in Oslo, Norway highlights the social and ecological costs of the REDD scheme and draws attention to a scandalous Norske Hydro project that threatens to destroy Amazon rainforest in Brazil. Photo Courtesy: Friends of the Earth Norway

When I started the REDD-Monitor website in 2008, REDD – Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation – was promoted as the “low-hanging fruit” that would save the rainforests and address climate change. In 2006, for example, the economist Nicholas Stern had described REDD as “highly cost-effective” and explained that it could reduce emissions “fairly quickly”. More than seven years on, REDD is neither cheap nor quick. (In 2012, I asked Stern whether he has reconsidered his views on REDD in the interim. He didn’t reply.)

The Norwegian government is the biggest funder of REDD, including US$1 billion REDD deals in Indonesia and Brazil, two countries with large areas of forest and high rates of deforestation. The money is payable when deforestation is reduced. But have Norway’s rainforest billions had any influence on rates of deforestation in either country?

Forest Politics

Forest politics in the two countries are different. Brazil is opposed to REDD offsets but Indonesia is in favour. Deforestation in Brazil has fallen since 2004, but in Indonesia it is increasing. Brazil has reliable deforestation data, produced annually by the National Institute for Space Research (Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais). Indonesia’s deforestation data is produced by the Ministry of Forestry – and the data is not supported by satellite data. Continue reading

Leave a Comment

Filed under Biodiversity, Carbon Trading, Climate Change, Commodification of Life, Corporate Globalization, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Forests, Forests and Climate Change, Green Economy, Land Grabs, Latin America-Caribbean, REDD, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests

The World Bank’s role in climate and energy finance

By Chris Lang, February 25, 2014. Source: REDD Monitor

Protest against the World Bank's involvement in the Green Climate Fund at 2011 UN climate negotiations in Durban, South Africa.  Source: Flickr/Friends of the Earth International

Protest against the World Bank’s involvement in the Green Climate Fund at 2011 UN climate negotiations in Durban, South Africa. Source: Flickr/Friends of the Earth International

Bruce Rich’s excellent new book about the World Bank, features two chapters about the Bank’s role in climate and energy finance. Rich describes this as “arguably the most critical and intractable development issue facing the Bank and the world at large as global warming accelerates”.

Foreclosing the Future: The World Bank and the Politics of Environmental Destruction builds on Rich’s 1994 book, Mortgaging the Earth. Unfortunately, in the intervening years, the Bank has learned few lessons and continues to finance socially and environmentally destructive projects. The Bank’s role on climate change has been to cook up carbon trading schemes which not only fail to address climate change, they actually make matters worse.

This post looks at Rich’s chapters: “The Carbon Caravan” and “A Market Like No Other”. A forthcoming post will focus on Rich’s analysis of the World Bank’s role in REDD.

The World Bank didn’t produce a climate strategy until 2008 – 16 years after the Rio Summit and the negotiation of the UNFCCC. Perhaps surprisingly the climate strategy did not recommend a stop to funding climate damaging projects. Instead, Bank management decided that, Continue reading

Leave a Comment

Filed under Carbon Trading, Climate Change, Coal, False Solutions to Climate Change, Green Economy, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests, World Bank

Forest Stewardship Council certification does not guarantee reduced forest carbon emissions

By Chris Lang, February 19, 2014. Source: REDD Monitor

fscA recent study in East Kalimantan revealed no difference in carbon emissions between Forest Stewardship Council certified logging operations and conventional logging concessions.

This has potentially huge implications for REDD. “Sustainable management of forest” is one of the “plus” parts of REDD as agreed in December 2010 in Cancun. “Sustainable management of forest” could mean subsidies to industrial-scale commercial logging operations in old-growth forests.

The findings of the recent study also have serious implications for the Forestry Stewardship Council which is expanding its certification system to include forest carbon.

The Forest Stewardship Council was formed in 1993, with the aim of promoting environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial and economically viable forest management. It does so through a certification system. An FSC accredited “certifying body” assesses whether the company’s forestry concession complies with a series of FSC principles and criteria. Continue reading

Leave a Comment

Filed under Biodiversity, Carbon Trading, Climate Change, False Solutions to Climate Change, Forests, Forests and Climate Change, Green Economy, REDD, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests

REDD myth no.1: Deforestation accounts for 25% of greenhouse gas emissions

Note: Yes, deforestation needs to be addresssed–and NOT through the development of massive-scale industrial monoculture tree plantations, but by addressing deforestation at its very source–namely agro-industrial expansion, especially of GMO crops, livestock production and overconsumption of paper and timber products.

As far as climate change is concerned, the tunnel vision of the UN, World Bank and other bodies on deforestation as a driver of climate change has been a deliberate misdirection to keep the focus away from where it needs to be–reducing fossil fuel consumption, and preventing its replacement with plant-based fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel, which also put out huge emissions.

-The GJEP Team

By Chris Lang, February 15, 2014. Source: REDD-Monitor

Photo: Arnoldo Garcia

Photo: Arnoldo Garcia

Myth: “Deforestation accounts for 25 percent of all man-made emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide.”

That statement comes from a 2005 press release from the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation. A year later, FAO had decided that the figure was too low:

in fact between 25 and 30 percent of the greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere each year … is caused by deforestation.

In its 2007 report, the IPCC estimated that deforestation accounted for 17% of emissions.

Two years later, in a paper published in Nature Geoscience, Guido van der Werf and colleagues, argued that the figure was actually closer to 12%. While estimates of the rate of deforestation globally are fairly steady, emissions from burning fossil fuels are increasing rapidly. As such, the percentage of emissions from deforestation is falling. Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Carbon Trading, Climate Change, Commodification of Life, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Forests, Forests and Climate Change, Green Economy, Land Grabs, REDD, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests

What is climate geoengineering? Word games in the ongoing debates over a definition

By Rachel Smolker, February 12, 2014. Source: TruthOut

(Photo: Kai Morgener / Flickr)

(Photo: Kai Morgener / Flickr)

Climate geoengineering advocates have long argued over how to actually define the term “geoengineering.” The precise details of that definition are important for various reasons, not the least of which is that it will determine what likely is to be subjected to the scrutiny and potentially complex and difficult legal governance processes that such a global scale climate-tweak effort would necessarily involve.

Already, as of 2010, the Convention on Biological Diversity, a treaty that 193 UN member countries (all other than the Holy See, Andorra and the United States) have ratified, adopted a de-facto moratorium on climate geoengineering in 2010. That was based in part on previous deliberations and decisions on one particular form of geoengineering, ocean iron fertilization, which also is regulated under the London Convention. Those decisions were negotiated and agreed in painstaking process, with each word and its implications carefully weighed in the balance.1 Obviously, there is much need to specify exactly what is geoengineering and, thus, subject to the moratorium or any other legal ruling.

For most people, it seems intuitively clear that, for example, spewing sulphate aerosols into the atmosphere – a technology in the category of “solar radiation management” (SRM) clearly would be considered “geoengineering.” We would not consider doing that for any other reason or intent – there are known anticipated serious risks and dangers, etc. Continue reading

Leave a Comment

Filed under Carbon Trading, Climate Change, Commodification of Life, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Forests and Climate Change, Geoengineering, Green Economy, Oceans, Pollution, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests

Report: Fossil fuel carbon not equivalent to carbon stored in trees

By Chris Lang, January 31, 2014. Source: REDD-Monitor

evergreen-forest-646x433“It is a mistake to think that emissions from fossil fuels can be negated by increasing or protecting the storage potential of forests and other land based carbon.”

So says a new report from Brussels-based NGO FERN. The report exposes the myth that fossil fuel emissions can be offset by planting trees or preserving forests. Titled, “Misleading Numbers: The Case for Separating Land and Fossil Based Carbon Emissions”, the report can be downloaded here.

The report summarises the difference between greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels and those from land use change:

Land use change, through both natural causes and human impact, accounted for approximately 12 per cent of annual global CO2 emissions over the past decade. However, there are fundamental differences between ‘terrestrial’ and ‘fossil’ carbon pools and their impact on the climate. Emissions from fossil carbon are irreversible for all practical purposes as it will be millennia before fossil carbon released by human activity is removed from the terrestrial carbon cycle. Land-based carbon stocks such as forests, on the other hand, are highly reversible: their carbon is held for years or centuries at the most, and is easily returned to the atmosphere. In addition, while immense volumes of fossil carbon are held in the earth, there is a natural limit to the amount that can be held at any one time by terrestrial ecosystems. Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Carbon Trading, Commodification of Life, False Solutions to Climate Change, Forests, Forests and Climate Change, Green Economy, Land Grabs, REDD, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests