Kyoto: A False Consensus?
Interview with Red Pepper

by Larry Lohmann

first published 6 November 2006

The sometimes noisy debate over whether the globe is warming, and by how much, hides a more important question: who is to own the earth's ability to regulate its climate? From this perspective, George Bush and supporters of the Kyoto Protocol are on the same side. Both are working to entrench the rights and privileges of big polluters.

By allowing the worst polluters to secure huge blocks of emissions rights, carbon trading schemes promoted by the Kyoto Protocol and the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme encourage inaction and block innovation. Carbon "offsets", moreover, cannot be measured, and global enforcement is impossible. Carbon trading impedes public discussion, and harms communities - mostly in the South - where many carbon "offset" projects are sited.

Rather than trading carbon, governments need to support communities already following or pioneering low-carbon ways of life and work to change the structure of energy use in industrialized societies.


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