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Carbon Market Fundamentalism

Publication Date: 
December 01, 2008
Source: 
Multinational Monitor
Author: 
Daphne Wysham

Professors David Victor and Michael Wara are referenced in an article by the Multinational Monitor about the future of carbon emissions reduction:

The waste-pickers of Delhi may soon rank among the world’s endangered species if carbon markets continue their rise. Now numbering in the tens if not hundreds of thousands, waste-pickers have plied the garbage of Delhi’s streets for decades. A disturbing spectacle, often including women and children in their ranks, they nonetheless provide a vital service: recycling. In a country like India, paper, plastic and metals are an increasingly valuable commodity. And for slum-dwellers, this may be their only source of income. And so they join the cows and dogs in a daily forage through garbage by the side of road, searching for plastic, paper, metals — anything that can be turned into cash.

Bharati Chaturvedi, director and co-founder of Chintan, a small non-governmental organization (NGO) servicing India’s waste-pickers, claims that more than 1 percent of Delhi’s population is engaged in waste-picking — a significant source of revenue for the poorest — and that they recycle 9 percent to 59 percent of all of the waste generated in the city. “These waste-pickers are providing a public service — for free,” Chaturvedi says.

But a waste incinerator now proposed in Timarpur, a suburb of Delhi, may change all that. Like other incinerators, this one will generate cancer-causing dioxins, mercury, and other heavy metals and persistent organic pollutants. What’s new and different about this particular waste incinerator: It will generate carbon credits under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM).

...

Even the “Certified Emissions Reductions” sold under the CDM seem a far cry from actual “emissions reductions.” In fact, according to David Victor of Stanford University, as many as two thirds of the credits being produced by the CDM from projects in developing countries are not resulting in any emissions reductions. Victor and Michael Wara, a law professor at Stanford, found in an April 2008 paper that virtually all of the hydropower, natural gas and wind projects in China are applying for CDM credits. Yet, clearly, China could not make the argument that none of these projects would have gone forward without CDM credits — a key criterion for support under the CDM.