Carbon Trading: Solution or Obstacle?

by Larry Lohmann

first published 3 May 2008

The growing recognition that carbon markets are not helping alleviate the climate crisis is an encouraging step toward a more constructive approach. But more is needed. First, more discussion is required of the ways that carbon markets damage more effective initiatives, and are steering societies away from needed structural change. Second, the question needs to be raised whether carbon markets ever could work, so that time is not wasted trying to fix an unfixable approach. Third, it is crucial to probe the reasons why, if carbon trading is a failure in climatic terms, it has nevertheless been a success in political ones. Only if the complex reasons why carbon trading is still being pursued by political elites are understood will it be possible to clear away the obstacles it presents.

This article was written for the book The Impact of Climate Change on India (WISE [India]) but never published.