Friday, 17 August 2012

The mother of all unintended consequences...

Making greenhouse gases to cash in on carbon trading.  From price of
I always thought the whole concept of carbon trading had a major achilles heel: that it would tend to encourage the production of greenhouse gases so that you could trade them for money.
James Hansen pointed this out in 2009. "Because cap and trade is enforced through the selling and trading of permits, it actually perpetuates the pollution it is supposed to eliminate."
Now we have another, huge, unintended consequence of carbon trading.  The creation of harmful gases in order that its waste products can be traded....
When the United Nations wanted to help slow climate change, it established what seemed a sensible system.Greenhouse gases were rated based on their power to warm the atmosphere. The more dangerous the gas, the more that manufacturers in developing nations would be compensated as they reduced their emissions.
But where the United Nations envisioned environmental reform, some manufacturers of gases used in air-conditioning and refrigeration saw a lucrative business opportunity.
They quickly figured out that they could earn one carbon credit by eliminating one ton of carbon dioxide, but could earn more than 11,000 credits by simply destroying a ton of an obscure waste gas normally released in the manufacturing of a widely used coolant gas. That is because that byproduct has a huge global warming effect. The credits could be sold on international markets, earning tens of millions of dollars a year.
That incentive has driven plants in the developing world not only to increase production of the coolant gas but also to keep it high -- a huge problem because the coolant itself contributes to global warming and depletes the ozone layer. That coolant gas is being phased out under a global treaty, but the effort has been a struggle.
It seems there are factories now producing the "widely used coolant gas" only in order to get the credits for destroying its waste product....