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Industry caught in carbon ‘smokescreen’

Fiona Harvey and Stephen Fidler, Financial Times
Companies and individuals rushing to go green have been spending millions on “carbon credit” projects that yield few if any environmental benefits.

A Financial Times investigation has uncovered widespread failings in the new markets for greenhouse gases, suggesting some organisations are paying for emissions reductions that do not take place.

Others are meanwhile making big profits from carbon trading for very small expenditure and in some cases for clean-ups that they would have made anyway.

The growing political salience of environmental politics has sparked a “green gold rush”, which has seen a dramatic expansion in the number of businesses offering both companies and individuals the chance to go “carbon neutral”, offsetting their own energy use by buying carbon credits that cancel out their contribution to global warming.

The FT investigation found:

  • Widespread instances of people and organisations buying worthless credits that do not yield any reductions in carbon emissions.

  • Industrial companies profiting from doing very little – or from gaining carbon credits on the basis of efficiency gains from which they have already benefited substantially.
  • Brokers providing services of questionable or no value.
  • A shortage of verification, making it difficult for buyers to assess the true value of carbon credits.
  • Companies and individuals being charged over the odds for the private purchase of European Union carbon permits that have plummeted in value because they do not result in emissions cuts.

(25 April 2007)
The Financial Times and Wall Street Journal have been doing some great environmentalist reporting of late. Also at Common Dreams. -BA

’08 hopefuls tout climate-change plans

Brad Knickerbocker, Christian Science Monitor
Polls show that most Americans think global warming is a serious problem, and candidates are being pressured on their positions by interest groups.

Liberal or conservative, declared or undeclared, candidates eyeing the 2008 presidential election are feeling political heat on climate change. They’re reading polls showing that most Americans think global warming is a serious problem, and they’re being pressured by interest groups who are keeping a close eye on candidates’ positions.

Though questions of national security and energy policy – both related to changing climate – have been part of the campaign rhetoric from the start, Earth Day on April 22 prompted many to tout their greenness.
(27 April 2007)

Climate change bites

Andrew Jack, Financial Times
When a 59-year-old man developed a fever and stomach ache on the French Mediterranean island of Corsica last August, his diagnosis surprised local doctors and sent a warning signal to the wider medical world. He had contracted malaria.

“Patient Y” fitted none of the usual explanations for the small number of cases that occurs each year in Europe, where the disease was eradicated decades ago. He had never travelled to a country where the parasite was endemic, nor for 10 years had he even been inside an airport to which an infected mosquito might have been inadvertently transported by aeroplane.

In the first case of locally derived or “autochthonous” malaria in Corsica in 35 years, researchers believe the patient contracted it via one of a number of carrier mosquitoes that have re-established themselves in the region. The insect is thought to have transmitted the disease from another local man who had been infected in Madagascar.

While much attention has focused on the broad environmental consequences of global warming, the Corsican incident highlighted its troubling medical implications. “Health is moving more to the centre of the climate change debate,” says Diarmid Campbell-Lendrum from the global environmental change, public health and environment programme at the World Health Organisation (WHO). “It’s no longer an environmental issue but one that poses a threat to people’s lives and livelihoods.”
(25 April 2007)

Wolfowitz deputy under fire over climate

Krishna Guha, Financial Times
One of Paul Wolfowitz’s two handpicked deputies, Juan José Daboub, tried to water down references to climate change in one of the World Bank’s main environmental strategy papers, the bank’s chief scientist has told the Financial Times.

Mr Daboub, a conservative former finance minister from El Salvador was brought into the bank by Mr Wolfowitz. He is already under fire for allegedly trying to remove references to family planning in the bank’s Madagascar country assistance strategy and reduce its prominence in its new health sector strategy.

The new claim will add to disarray at the highest ranks of the bank, which is in ­turmoil over revelations that Mr Wolfowitz personally arranged a large pay rise for his girlfriend as part of a secondment deal.
(24 April 2007)

More Swedes would lower living standard to help climate: poll

Four out of 10 Swedes are willing to lower their standard of living to help stop global warming, while seven out of 10 say they are worried about climate change, a study published on Tuesday showed.

“The concern is to be expected but the willingness to change the way we live is more widespread than seen before. Climate issues are very powerful and affect people profoundly,” Anders Lindholm, the head of the Demoskop polling institute which carried out the study, told the daily Dagens Nyheter.

“Previously people were not so affected by the phenomenon but now it has a personal impact on people. Buying environmentally friendly products, such as cars, now has status,” he added.

A total of 89 percent of those polled said it was important for individuals to take responsibility for a better climate and as many as 72 percent said they already recycle their rubbish.
(24 April 2007)