Carbon trading has emerged as the assumed 'solution' to climate change. It is the central pillar of the Federal government's proposed Clean Energy Future package. However carbon trading does not reduce emissions and creates a new set of social injustices. Carbon trading involves the creation of an artificial market, whereby polluters trade rights to pollute under an imposed cap on emissions set by government. Where it had been trialled, carbon trading has done nothing to reduce emissions, and has produced windfall profits for the most polluting industries in Europe's carbon market.
Trade in carbon rights also displaces the responsibility to reduce emissions from industries in wealthy nations to communities in the global South. Built into carbon trading schemes is the use of carbon offset credits used to 'compensate' for continued emissions in industrialised nations. Offsets are emissions reductions most often generated from projects in manufacturing industries of developing countries. The industrial gas projects comprising of 80% of European offsets have been shown to have no ecological integrity.
Meanwhile a new range of offsets from creating conservation areas in rainforest nations is being set up to provide cheap offset credits for new carbon markets such as the Australian carbon trading scheme. Known as REDD offsets (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation), these offsets have profound impacts on the livelihoods of local and indigenous communities living on and near to project sites. There are also serious doubts as to whether emissions reductions can ever be guaranteed from REDD projects.
In a shoking move, the proposed Australian carbon trading scheme announced as central to the Clean Energy Future package will allow for half of Australia's recorded emissions reductions to occur offshore through offset projects in developing countries. This part of the scheme will ensure carbon lock-in, undermining efforts to halt the expansion of coal and coal-seam gas in Australia.
Members of Friends of the Earth Melbourne and Sydney are working in solidarity with communities effected by REDD pilot projects in Indonesia.
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