Carbon Markets: Trading with our Future from Occupy Cop17 on Vimeo.

As COP17 draws to a close the only game in town is the market-based mechanisms that are false solutions to climate change. The same institutions, corporations and governments who have led the world into economic chaos are leading us towards climate chaos.

However, the cracks in the façade are starting to show. Carbon trading and offsetting, the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) have failed to cut carbon emissions, which reached record high levels in 2010, whilst further impoverishing the worlds poorest people, facilitating the largest land grab in history, destroying biodiversity and trampling the rights of indigenous communities.

In a new video released today, critics of the markets and even the architects and gatekeepers of climate finance admit to its failure.

Martin Hession, Chairman of the CDM Executive Board says:

We have had allegations in respect of a project in Honduras, people have been killed by people associated with the CDM project…. I don’t think the CDM can take on the job of being a human rights commission, I don’t think the CDM can take on the job of resolving every social problem in every country.

The failure to look at climate change in the wider context of climate and social justice is leading to gross human rights violations as well as environmental degradation. Those responsible are economists and financiers who are solely concerned with the numbers and tweaking them to create a positive balance in their books, both in terms of profits and “fictitious” emissions reductions.

As Prof Michael Grubb, Senior Research Associate, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge says:

Having created a market-based mechanism to cut carbon a lot of people seem to expect it to behave in a non-market way and deliver poverty alleviation, deliver sustainable development co-benefits, but fundamentally; you create a market, it’s behaving the way markets do, it chases where are the most cost effective things, where can they make the most profits and I think that anyone who didn’t expect a market instrument to behave in that way didn’t understand what they were doing.

So why are these carbon market mechanism now dominating the Un climate negotiations? Larry Lohmann, Co-founder of the Durban Group for Climate Justice explains:

The biggest buyer of carbon pollution rights, these offsets bought in from countries in the Global South today, the biggest buyers are not actually polluting firms in Europe, they’re not actually the steel mills, they’re not actually the electricity generators, although of course they also do buy pollution rights, the biggest buyers are Wall St and the City of London, they’re financial actors. Why are they buying these pollutions rights? Obviously they’re not buying them because they need to offset the huge amounts of smoke coming out of their smoke stacks in the City of London, they’re buying them to speculate with, they’re buying them because profits are to be made in the trading of them. Carbon markets are not a way of solving the climate problem, the impetus for them is not coming from people who are suffering from climate change, the impetus for them is not coming from environmentalists even, the impetus is largely coming from people like Fortis Bank.

As with all markets, the carbon market is subject to fluctuations and crashes. The price of carbon is already at an all time low, which has lead the International Emissions Trading Association (IETA) to oppose the European Energy Efficiency Directive because they claim it will have a negative effect on the price of carbon.

We now find ourselves in the insane situation where we have schemes designed to cut emissions being blocked by those whose ability to profit from climate change is predicated on emissions continuing and climate change getting worse.

There is no doubt that money is needed to tackle climate change and to help developing countries adapt to and mitigate the effects of climate change. But the volatility and single-minded nature of the markets is clearly not the way to do it. Developed nations must pay their historical climate debt, and this payment should not be in the form of loans, but rather in reparations. They may claim that there is no money available, but this is patently nonsense when trillions of dollars miraculously materialise when their own economies are in peril, only to vanish into the never-ending coffers of their financial institutions.

We support the People’s Agreement on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth, agreed by more than 30,000 people from over 100 countries who took part in the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth in Cochabamba, Bolivia.

We consider inadmissible that current negotiations propose the creation of new mechanisms that extend and promote the carbon market, for existing mechanisms have not resolved the problem of climate change nor led to real and direct actions to reduce greenhouse gases.

For more information please see:

You can view and download the Carbon Markets, Trading Our Future film at:


Comments on: "Scoop! New exposé of carbon markets" (1)

  1. Dears at Occupy COP17

    Please read the latest post from Pablo Solon at

    These Comments below highlight the dire situation we face and perhaps a solution:

    2 commentsComments feed for this article
    December 7, 2011 at 6:47 pm
    Peter Carter

    Dear Pablo tragically you are right about the deplorable negotiations situation and the terrible situation this puts Mother Earth and all Humanity in.

    You are one of the few people with the intelligence and the sensitivity to see these realities.

    Our fate is being decided in just the new years – by the Arctic.

    A planetary cataclysm is rapidly unfolding in the Arctic.

    The Arctic is not the agenda. None of the computer models relied on by the scientists include any of the Arctic feedbacks in projecting temperature increases.

    World leading Arctic expert professor Peter Wadhams (UK) made a public statement last month that the Arctic summer sea ice is on course to be virtually gone by 2015. I have spoken with him and he very concerned for Humanity.

    The loss of the Arctic summer ice large albedo cooling would increase the rate of Arctic and subarctic warming three and half time (David Lawrence 2008).

    The rapidly warming Arctic is releasing global warming methane feedback emissions from warming peat lands, thawing permafrost, and sea floor frozen solid methane gas hydrate from the East Siberian continental shelf. The entire open North Atlantic Arctic is emitting methane (HIPPO airborne monitoring)

    The loss of Arctic summer ice cooling replaced by open ocean heat absorption will drive these Arctic methane emissions at an ever increasing rate. Methane for 20 years after emissions has a global warming effect 72 times at that of CO2.

    Though there is no way of knowing if we can now survive if we do face this catastrophic reality – we will not survive if we do not.

    In solidarity Dr Peter Carter

    December 7, 2011 at 7:13 pm

    decolonial naions of the world unite, or is the adaptation hush money all thats at stake for you?

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    December 7, 2011 at 10:51 pm
    Ricky Ward

    What Peter Carter is saying does not come as news to me and so I call for some drastic action.
    Sometimes I wonder if anything short of a nuclear war, hopefully very limited in extent, will wake up the world to the peril we face?
    However short of nuclear war, which only India & Pakistan in the Third World could initiate there are bold actions available. These are actions which are necessary to drastically reduce CO2 emissions and poor nations of the South can initiate them and shock the North into responding.
    Please do this – BAN AVIATION and BAN the manufacture and external trade of MOTOR VEHICLES.

    This could start tomorrow if only one or two nations were to take the lead. Ideally South Africa as host nation should close its airports now, thereby extending COP17 to allow the delegates to leisurely decide on collective actions.
    And from Peter’s story these need to include protection and collection of the methane, be it plastic white sheeting over Siberia and the Arctic sea or whatever as well as rebuilding societies on an international socialist model.

    Failing these peaceful moves it would seem widespread sabotage as the Maquis undertook in Vichy France would be in order.

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