Monday, June 4, 2007

How carbon credits can INCREASE emissions

The incomparable Mark Steyn writes in NRO about an article in The Guardian describing how abuse and incompetence in the carbon credit industry have had the net effect of increasing carbon emissions:

You'd have to have a heart as cold as the pre-globally-warmed Arctic not to be howling with laughter at this, from The Guardian:

One senior figure suggested there may be faults with up to 20% of the carbon credits - known as certified emissions reductions - already sold. Since these are used by European governments and corporations to justify increases in emissions, the effect is that in some cases malpractice at the CDM has added to the net amount of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere.

I wouldn't be surprised if Katrina was triggered by Al Gore's carbon offsets.
The Guardian article focuses on Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), one of many carbon credit brokers. As a broker, CDM will collect money from those (governments, businesses, Hollywood poseurs, failed presidential candidates) who wish to maintain or increase their carbon emissions, and will then pass the money (minus a commission, of course) to some entity with the capacity to reduce their emissions by an amount at least equal to the amount of the first party's excess.

How does a broker verify that emissions reductions have in fact taken place? Lacking sufficient personnel to do the job themselves, brokers will hire specialist companies to conduct inspections of projects in developing countries to ensure that the emissions reductions are in fact taking place.

Some of these specialist companies have been fraudulently certifying the reductions. While the brokers may not be engaging in the fraud themselves, they are putting their name on the certification, which makes them responsible for the results. Brokers like CDM can also be faulted for maintaining that, even though fraud and incompetence has tainted as much as one in five of the credits already sold,
The chairman of the CDM board, Danish energy consultant Hans J├╝rgen Stehr, insisted that in the end the problem was not bad enough to require any of the companies to be suspended.
Of course, this scandal isn't an argument for or against the scientific merit of AGW, but it does seem fitting that the Great AGW Con is attracting plenty of con artists who want a piece of the action.