Delegates from 197 countries are finalizing the details of one of the most controversial strategies to combat climate change: the international “carbon market”, which allows countries to offset their carbon emissions by funding environmental projects elsewhere,media The Verge reported. As in the talks held this week at the annual United Nations climate change conference in Madrid, protests over the carbon reduction plan have continued, which some environmentalists have called the “wrong solution.”
Existing “carbon markets” have a long history, and unless stricter regulations are in place, new “carbon markets” could actually exacerbate the climate crisis. This is because, in the case of poor system design, the existence of carbon credits may provide polluters with the risk of being free from the opportunity to actually have to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
“Without proper oversight, these mechanisms will seriously weaken climate action by creating loopholes,” Yamide Dagnet, a senior fellow at the World Resources Institute, an environmental think tank, said at a news conference in Madrid on December 2. It may not just deceive people. “
The term “carbon market” covers a wide range of strategies, all of which work in a similar manner. Often, they provide economic incentives for a country or business to reduce their carbon footprint. A polluting company or country can reduce its carbon footprint, and they have made excess achievements in reducing emissions, rather than cutting their own emissions. Otherwise, polluters may offset their greenhouse gas emissions by investing in afforestation schemes or renewable energy projects.
“If the logic of the carbon market is used correctly, the cost of decarbonization can be significantly reduced. Satyajit Bose, deputy director of the Sustainability Management Program at Columbia University, told The Verge: “Guess what, you can help a lot of developing countries. “
But Alliance Mo?eka De Oro, from Micronesia Climate Change, points out that islands in the Pacific are being threatened by more superstorms, with rising sea levels engulfing entire islands and more acidic oceans endangering marine life. “The carbon market and carbon offset sparing are the wrong solutions, and we really need real solutions,” she said. “
The carbon market is so complex and controversial that the strategy was the last in the landmark Paris Agreement in 2015, when all countries in the world agreed to work together to limit global warming. Since the agreement was reached, the annual United Nations climate conference has focused on developing a rule book on how to implement the Paris Agreement. The carbon market has always been a thorny issue, and this is the last remaining issue in the rulebook. The issue is now at the centre of the summit, which will be held from December 2 to 13. But there is still concern that the problem remains unresolved, or worse, that weak regulations regulating carbon markets could undermine global efforts to combat climate change.
“It’s important to handle it properly. No rule (finally determined in Madrid) is better than no bad rules. Bose said. According to Bose and the World Resources Institute, good rules would prevent countries that trade carbon credits from double-counting their emissions reductions. They will also ensure that countries that offset emissions invest in projects that would not otherwise be launched, rather than on a plan that has already been developed, whether or not it generates carbon credits.
These are lessons learned from the carbon market generated by the Kyoto Protocol. A 2016 study by the European Commission found that most projects funded by the Kyoto Protocol’s carbon market may not have produced any additional carbon emissions.
Christiana Figueres says the carbon market is productive despite the challenges. “It’s absolutely important to learn from it,” she said. “But not everyone is convinced that these lessons have been learned. “Our main concern is that these carbon offsets and carbon markets do not eliminate pollution at the source,” says Anthony Rogers-Wright of the Climate Justice Alliance from the United States, which says it’s not just global benefits to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Reducing national dependence on oil and gas can also provide additional benefits, namely, protecting communities that have been damaged in the fossil fuel supply chain.
The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says time is running out to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to reduce disasters, and most countries are still not doing enough. Carbon emissions have risen by 4% since the paris agreement was adopted, according to a new study released this week.
Any decision made by delegates in Madrid is likely to be announced next week. By then, groups on both sides of the carbon market debate will have a better understanding of the future of this complex system.