The fickle nature of a fake free market

Carbon prices have plummeted in the US.

(So they are that much closer to their true value…)

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative sold 40.7 million permits for $1.88 each, 19 cents lower than the last auction held in March and 2 cents above the minimum allowable bid, the cap-and-trade program said on its website today. Each permit in the carbon trading program for power plants from Maryland to Maine represents one ton of carbon dioxide.

Why are prices so low? On the one hand, people have doubts about Congress creating a national market for them. Fair enough. But on the other hand, “Tim Cheung, an analyst with Bloomberg New Energy Finance said: “Demand for power hasn’t increased with the economic recovery…”

Since people aren’t buying as much electricity there are spare “permits to pollute” all over the place. But it begs the question of what kind of economic recovery it is, if it doesn’t need … power?

Can I sell you some air over China?

Meanwhile some NGOs are waking up to the scammability of permits for invisible unverifiable goods. CDMWatch was set up by a group of NGO’s and has found the firms that sell the carbon emission offsets are lying about how much they produce, so they can sell more offsets. Who would have guessed?

HFC-23 is 12,000 times as potent as CO2, making it an ultra powerful greenhouse gas, and a hot favourite for companies who want to “destroy greenhouse gases” and get paid for it. The obvious end point in this market being that the easiest most efficient greenhouse gas to destroy is the one you didn’t make in the first place.

HFC offsets account for more than half of the 420 million CERs issued to date by the U.N.’s climate change secretariat. No one is quite sure how many are bogus, but the head of an environmental group Noe21 said it is “millions”.

CDM Watch cited two plants that cut HFC-23 generation when they were ineligible for crediting, and increased production once they could again claim CERs for its destruction. One even stopped HFC production when it was not allowed to request CERs, just to resume when it became eligible again, it added.

CDM Watch also revealed that many plants produced exactly the amount of HFC-23 they are allowed to claim credits for, even though chemical production was lower or varied annually.

Greens realize no one is playing “nice”

Meanwhile another NGO, Friends of the Earth, is starting to smell a rat, and thinks the developed countries are “not being sincere”. Apparently they (we) promised $30 billion to fast start some climate program (ask the UN) but FOE suspects that it’s just money that would have been spent anyhow and feels short-changed.

FoI chair, Nnimmo Bassey, said, “It seems developed countries are finally taking recycling seriously; they are recycling aid money and calling it ‘fresh’ money. But the world will not be fooled. Laundering aid money for climate change does not show leadership, it shows contempt.

He apparently hasn’t heard that Tuvalu is not sinking anymore, because he still thinks it’s severely threatened, and his colleague seems to be dealing with the new threat. The World Bank has far bigger plans than anyone guessed:

Karen Orenstein of the FoI in the US noted, “People in developing countries are already being forced to cope with the impacts of climate population that the World Bank is causing…

It’s like offering a signposted niche full of free treats and hoping the natural system won’t take advantage of it.

The saddest thing about this is that the NGO’s think that establishing a new UN fund would somehow work better and more honestly than all the other UN “managed” operations.

That some humans will succumb to temptation seems like the most obvious principle of psychology. Why do Green groups think that we can set up a global market trading goods that no one can see, no one uses, and which rely on “motivations” to even qualify for existence, and then expect that out of 6 billion odd souls, some people (like a few hundred thousand) won’t try every creative trick that human ingenuity can come up with to rort the system? It’s as if they don’t know anything about ecology. It’s like offering a signposted niche full of free treats and hoping the natural system won’t take advantage of it. See post h

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