Resources: Climate

To date, the principal official international response to climate change has been a neoliberal instrument: carbon pricing. This includes both carbon trading and carbon taxes. This response is being contested by many popular movements throughout the world. Indeed, it must be contested if more effective actions are to become possible.

Results 101 - @to of 155
A Short Debate
The Corner House

2 April 2009

Merrill Lynch is a major Wall Street investor in carbon pollution permits. Here its Global Head of Carbon Markets debates The Corner House on whether carbon markets are effective.

A Critical Look at Recent EU Climate Claims
Larry Lohmann

2 December 2008

The European Union claims that it is "on track" to meet its modest Kyoto Protocol emissions targets. It is not. Much more importantly, it is not "on track" to wean itself off fossil fuels -- which is the real point of climate change mitigation efforts.

REDD with Carbon Trading
Larry Lohmann

30 September 2008

Many new schemes are afoot to allow the North to pay the South for conserving its forests in return for permission to continue using fossil fuels. But how would a market in pollution rights generated by Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) play out in reality?

Six Soundbites
Larry Lohmann

20 August 2008

Will current plans to expand carbon trading in the US and elsewhere work? No. Carbon trading is aimed at the wrong objective, squanders resources on the wrong things, requires knowledge and institutions that do not exist, is antidemocratic, interferes with positive solutions, and puts ideology above experience.

Commerce du carbone, justice et ignorance
Larry Lohmann

18 August 2008

Carbon trading programmes such as the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme and the Kyoto Protocol have helped mobilize neoclassical economics and development planning in new projects of dispossession, speculation, rent-seeking and the redistribution of wealth from poor to rich and from the future to the present. Part of this process is the creation of ignorance, argues this article published in the journal Development. (French and Spanish versions are also available.)

El comercio de carbono, justicia climática y la producción de ignorancia: 10 ejemplos

El Protocolo de Kioto y el Esquema del Comercio de Emisiones de la Unión Europea han ayudado a movilizar a la economía neoclásica y a la planificación del desarrollo para crear nuevos proyectos de desposesión, especulación, búsqueda de rentas y redistribución de la riqueza de pobres a ricos y del futuro al presente. Una parte de este proceso es la creación de ignorancia.

The Inaugural Issue of an Indian Climate Change Magazine
Soumitra Ghosh and Subrat Kumar Sahu (editors)

10 July 2008

This new magazine is aimed at returning the Indian dialogue about climate change and its solutions to the "public space", instead of allowing it to remain the "exclusive property of governments, profiteers and 'experts' of various shades and hues".

Arlen Dilsizian interviews Larry Lohmann
Arlen Dilsizian with Larry Lohmann

10 July 2008

Climate change is not a new kind of social issue. It requires a re-examination of classic issues of power relations.

Larry Lohmann

9 July 2008

It's sometimes said that governments are failing to address climate change because they aren't taking the warnings of natural scientists seriously enough. In fact, as this draft chapter suggests, the failures may have more to do with lack of social science understanding -- in particular, with lack of appreciation of how the type of social change required actually takes place.

Larry Lohmann

3 May 2008

More and more commentators are now recognizing that carbon markets are failing to address the climate crisis. But more discussion is needed of why this is so, and how the way might be cleared for more effective approaches.

Kevin Smith

3 April 2008

Widely-publicized frauds in the carbon "offset" market have led to governmental and corporate proposals to apply standards. But no one has any standards that are working. And the more onerous any attempted regulation becomes, the more the market comes to be dominated by big corporate polluters with the money to work the system.

The Cases of Carbon and Cost-Benefit
Larry Lohmann

1 April 2008

Al Gore and many other mainstream environmentalists suggest that calculating and internalizing 'externalities' is the solution to environmental problems. Some critics counter that the spread of market-like calculations into 'nonmarket' spheres is itself a cause of environmental problems. In the course of a study of two real-world examples, carbon accounting and cost-benefit analysis, this article (published in the journal Accounting, Organizations and Society) proposes a possible way of getting beyond this stalled debate.

Hacia un debate diferente en la contabilidad ambiental: Los casos de la contabilidad de carbono y el análisis costo-beneficio

Al Gore y muchos otros ambientalistas de la corriente dominante afirman que la solución a los problemas ambientales es calcular e interiorizar las “externalidades”. Algunos críticos no están de acuerdo y dicen que la causa de los problemas ambientales es precisamente la expansión de la contabilidad mercantil hacia las esferas “ajenas al mercado”. Este articulo (de la revista Accounting, Organizations and Society) propone, a través de dos estudios de caso – los mercados de carbono y el análisis de costo-beneficio –, una salida de este debate improductivo.

Larry Lohmann

20 March 2008

Carbon trading proponents often assert that trading is merely a way of finding the most cost-effective means of reaching an emissions goal and a source of funding that leaves everything else exactly as it is. In fact, carbon trading undermines a number of existing and proposed positive measures for tackling climate change.

No Hair Shirt Solutions to Global Warming
Gar Lipow

28 February 2008

The obstacles to tackling the climate crisis are political, not technological, argues this book, which focuses on the most carbon-profligate country, the United States.

"Pay-to-Pollute" Principle Kills South African Activist Sajida Khan
Patrick Bond

30 December 2007

The death of Durban environmentalist Sajida Khan calls attention to the life-and-death consequences of the climate justice struggle. If South Africans are to be at the cutting edge of progressive climate activism, not partners in the privatization of the atmosphere, three citizens' networks -- environmentalists, community groups, and trade unions -- must join forces to identify the contradictions within both South African and global energy sector policies and practices and help synthesize modes of resistance.

Capitalist Patriarchy, Global Warming Gimmickry and our Responsibility for Rubbish
Patrick Bond and Rehana Dada

30 October 2007

Sajida Khan, an environmental activist based in Durban, South Africa, who died in July 2007, dedicated her life to fighting international corporations and local municipalities over the pollution and environmental degradation of her community. An interview with Khan about her views on environmental justice and possible ways forward to create healthier livelihoods is included.

Larry Lohmann

30 September 2007

Featuring photographs by Tamra Gilbertson, Nishant Male and Franceso Zizola, this slide show continues the series portraying the practical, on-the-ground effects of the trade in carbon credits through the United Nations' Clean Development Mechanism and the voluntary "offset" market.

Kevin Smith

19 September 2007

Carbon trading, its backers claim, reduces emissions and brings sustainable development in the global South. But in fact it may do neither, and is harming efforts to create a low-carbon economy. (A Chinese version is appended to the English version.)

Larry Lohmann

5 September 2007

Trading in carbon "offsets", which constitutes one part of carbon market arrangements such as the Kyoto Protocol, is ineffective and generally exacerbates local problems. This slide show offers some disturbing photographic evidence.

Larry Lohmann

5 September 2007

Emissions trading constitutes one part of carbon trading schemes such as those associated with the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme and the Kyoto Protocol. Emissions trading delays structural transition away from fossil fuels, hands out large assets to the biggest polluters, and cannot be enforced globally.

An Article for Red Pepper
Larry Lohmann

2 August 2007

The European Union, the US and big business are vying with each other to be recognized as taking serious action on climate change. But some of the most important leaders on climate change are groups fighting fossil fuel projects at the grassroots in places such as southern Thailand.

An Article for 1400 Sahitya
Larry Lohmann

30 July 2007

Under pressure to "tame" the threat of climate change to make it seem compatible with business as usual, many scientists have joined policymakers, economists and journalists in treating ignorance and uncertainty about climate as calculable "probabilities". Carbon traders, too, are forced to treat unknowns (and unknowables) as if they were calculable.

An Article from Environmental Finance magazine
Christopher Cundy

30 May 2007

For carbon trading advocates, the onward march of "cap and trade" schemes seems unstoppable. But a growing chorus of critics believes otherwise.

Kevin Smith

13 May 2007

When will it be publicly admitted that the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme is not working?,p>

An Article for Development Today
Soumitra Ghosh

3 May 2007

The Kyoto Protocol's Clean Development Mechanism is claimed to "promote sustainable development" in the South at the same time it gives Northern industries licenses to continue polluting. But the skepticism with which countries with colonial pasts have always viewed such "aid" is also warranted here.

Larry Lohmann

30 March 2007

This interview with a Brazilian science magazine touches on the nature of technical fixes for global warming, the US role in formulating the Kyoto Protocol, and how carbon trading is wasting time that could be better spent on other approaches to climate change. (A Portuguese version is appended to the English one.)

Offset Indulgences for your Climate Sins
Kevin Smith

28 February 2007

Buying "carbon offsets" to "neutralize" your carbon emissions is all the rage in middle-class society in Europe and North America. This book, published by Carbon Trade Watch, explains why offsets are not a constructive approach to climate change.

An Article for Climate Change Corp
Larry Lohmann

27 February 2007

Corporations seeking a good image in an era of climate change will steer clear of "carbon offset" projects, which are mostly propping up polluting and oppressive industries in the South. Instead, they will push for structural, long-term social changes that can help keep coal, oil and gas in the ground.

Comment and analysis in New Scientist
Larry Lohmann

2 December 2006

Far from being a solution to global warming, carbon trading is little more than licence for big polluters to carry on business as usual, says Larry Lohmann in this 'Comment and analysis' article in New Scientist magazine.

Interview with Red Pepper
Larry Lohmann

6 November 2006

The debate over how serious global warming is hides a more important conflict over 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.

A Critical Conversation on Climate Change, Privatisation and Power
Larry Lohmann (editor)

9 October 2006

The globe is warming. The more carbon dioxide pours into the air, the less stable the climate becomes and the more urgent it becomes to leave remaining fossil fuels in the ground. Yet the dominant neoliberal approach to the crisis -- carbon trading -- is failing. It is slowing social and technological change; dispossessing ordinary people in the South of their lands and futures; undermining already-existing positive approaches; and prolonging industrialised societies' dependence on fossil fuels. This book lays out the case and describes what can be done.

Chapter 2 of Carbon Trading:A Critical Conversation on Climate Change, Privatisation and Power
Larry Lohmann (editor)

9 October 2006

Chapter 2 of the book, Carbon Trading: A Critical Conversation on Climate Change, Privatisation and Power, tells the extraordinary story of how corporations, academics, governments, United Nations agencies and environmentalists united around a neoliberal or 'market' approach to climate change emanating from North America. They made pollution trading -- a little-tested, highly-theoretical instrument designed merely to save industrial polluters money in the short-term -- the centrepiece of international efforts to tackle climate change.

Chapter 1 of Carbon Trading: A Critical Conversation on Climate Change, Privatisation and Power
Larry Lohmann (editor)

9 October 2006

Chapter 1 of the book Carbon Trading, traces the growing climate crisis to the mining of coal, oil and gas, and describes the growing political conflict over how to divide up the world's capacity to clean its atmosphere. It outlines the dangers of the crisis to people's survival and livelihoods, explores the political nature and implications of the problem, and sketches reasonable and unreasonable solutions. The flow of fossil carbon out of the ground, it points out, has to be slowed and ultimately halted.

Chapter 4 of Carbon Trading: A Critical Conversation on Climate Change, Privatisation and Power
Larry Lohmann (editor)

9 October 2006

Chapter 4 of the book, Carbon Trading, describes how supposedly carbon-'saving' projects set up in countries of the South to 'compensate' for continued fossil fuel use are helping to disposses ordinary people of their land, water, air -- and their futures. Projects to plant trees, burn methane from waste dumps, improve efficiency and promote renewable energy are described in ten countries, together with the tensions and conflicts created.

Chapter 3 of Carbon Trading: A Critical Conversation on Climate Change, Privatisation and Power
Larry Lohmann (editor)

9 October 2006

Chapter 3 of the book, Carbon Trading, explains why carbon trading -- one of the largest world markets ever created -- is ineffective in dealing with the climate crisis. It demonstrates that the experience of the United States in pollution trading is an argument against, rather than for, making carbon markets the centrepiece of action on global warming. It explores property rights and privatisation; emissions trading vs. structural change; and the special problems of carbon projects.

Chapter 5 of Carbon Trading: A Critical Conversation on Climate Change, Privatisation and Power
Larry Lohmann (editor)

9 October 2006

Chapter 5 of the book, Carbon Trading, dissects and sets aside the claim that "there is no alternative to carbon trading". It cites conventional regulation, public works, legal action, green taxes, popular movements against fossil fuel use, and the shifting of subsidies away from fossil fuels toward renewable energy. For a more democratic and effective climate politics, the debate over climate needs to be conducted not only by corporations, ministries, specialists and big NGOs but by a wider public as well.

Can we save the planet?
Brian Tokar

15 February 2006

An accessible article from "Z Magazine" describing the key issues of global climate change discussed at last year's climate negotiations in Montreal.

Time for a Change
Larry Lohmann

9 January 2006

Carbon markets are not helping to phase out fossil fuels and are thus not helping to tackle global warming, this article for Foreign Policy in Focus argues.

Global Warming and the Privatised Atmosphere
Patrick Bond and Rehana Dada (editors)

20 October 2005

This book, from the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa, outlines some of the practical threats to public well-being and climatic stability that arise from the growing fashion for carbon trading. It focuses on the disturbing record of South African "carbon-saving" projects and their role in shoring up a destructive oil economy.

Commodification, Calculation and Counterfactuals in Climate Change Mitigation
Larry Lohmann

20 September 2005

The Kyoto Protocol and kindred carbon trading measures have usually been presented as a small but indispensable step forward to mitigate climate change. Are they? Or, as this article for the journal Science as Culture asks, do they amount to a stumble backwards and a block to the emergence of more constructive approaches?

How to Respond to a Proposed New Export Market?
Larry Lohmann

29 January 2005

The new export market in biological carbon-cycling capacity is likely to have effects similar to export markets in soya, paper pulp, petroleum, timber, palm oil, maize, bananas, coffee or tourism. What are the best ways of encouraging discussion among affected communities about this new form of globalisation? asks this article for the World Rainforest Movement Bulletin.

The Corner House, SinksWatch and Carbon Trade Watch

2 December 2004

International carbon trading systems are failing. They are both climatically ineffective and politically infeasible. The UK Parliament's Environment Audit Committee conducted an Inquiry into the International Challenge of Climate Change: UK Leadership in the G8 and EU in October-December 2004. This Memorandum was submitted as written evidence to the Inquiry by The Corner House, SinksWatch and Carbon Trade Watch.

Markets, States and Climate
Mike Davis

30 December 2002

A revised understanding of nineteenth cenutry famines illuminates many current challenges of 'development' and questions the wisdom of development policies still pursued today.

Recommendations from Friends of the Earth to the ECGD
Kate Hampton, Friends of the Earth

23 May 2002

In 2001, governments agreed that export credit agencies should support the transfer of climate-friendly technologies. Urgent institutional reform is needed if Britain is to fulfil its commitment, argues this presentation at an NGO Seminar on Export Credit Reform held in the House of Commons, London.

Neocolonialism and Fraud
Larry Lohmann

2 April 2002

The Kyoto Protocol is not a step forward in the struggle to stabilise climate, but a stumble sideways into spurious science and the privatization of the atmosphere, contends this talk given at the "Resistance is Fertile" gathering in The Hague, The Netherlands

The Corner House

30 January 2002

This submission outlines how and why the UK Department for International Development (DfiD), and the multilateral agencies and non-governmental agencies to which its contributes, should act to curb emissions of greenhouse gases in developed countries. It recommends that the UK should support: initiatives to keep fossil fuels in the ground; alternative sources of energy; and movements working towards these ends.

Intellectual Corruption and the Future of the Climate Debate
Larry Lohmann

30 October 2001

The “carbon market” approach of international agreements to tackle climate change is incoherent. No one knows how to value the goods in this market, nor to whom they belong. As a result, the market, backed by a growing, well-funded, global climate technocracy, will subsidise further climate change. Democratic challenges to this “carbocracy” will be crucial in opening up the climate debate and combating the scientific fraudulence now rife in mainstream discussions.

The Shady World of Carbon Laundering
Larry Lohmann

15 May 2000

Tradeable carbon credits from forests cannot be scientifically quantified. NGOs interested in participating in markets for such credits need to be aware of the climatic damage they sanction as well as the damage they may do to communities affected by fossil fuel exploitation.

A New Plantation Economy
Larry Lohmann

1 May 2000

Tree plantations to "compensate" for industrial carbon-dioxide emissions are being established in many parts of the world, often infringing local land and water rights in the South. Understanding the discourses through which the carbon "offset" market is being created is crucial to political action on climate change.

Ethnic Discrimination and Conservation in Thailand
Larry Lohmann

9 April 2000

The intersections between international nature conservation and ethnic politics are of serious and growing concern to many social movements in Southeast Asia. This paper offers evidence that international environmentalist practices interact with local and national conditions to advance the structural work of ethnic discrimination and racism in Southeast Asia. The racist outcomes of these practices do not flow exclusively from unprofessionalism, faulty science, irrationality, immorality or incorrect beliefs -- and anti-racist strategy has to accommodate this insight.

The Politics and Culture of Combustion
Stephen J. Pyne with Larry Lohmann

28 February 2000

Sensational images of wildfires often prompt calls for sweeping, high-tech measures to control fire in the open. Yet fire in the open is a planetary necessity. The problem is too little controlled open burning in the North, and too much wildfire in the South -- and too many catastrophic, destructive blazes and not enough cleansing, fertilizing ones. Constructive debate about climate change, agriculture or forestry requires a careful look at the culture, ecology and politics of global fire.

Larry Lohmann

26 February 2000

A presentation at a seminar on "Environmental Justice in a Divided Society", Goldsmiths College, University of London, suggests that individual Western environmentalists are often pushed into supporting racist or discriminatory structures by their need to adhere to the rules of professional performance, including those of peer-reviewed science.

Planting New Problems
Larry Lohmann

15 December 1999

This article outlines two options put forward to tackle global warming -- reduce fossil fuel use or plant trees to absorb carbon dioxide -- and analyses the substantial differences between the two approaches.

Carbon ‘Offset’ Forestry and The Privatization of the Atmosphere
Larry Lohmann

31 July 1999

This briefing questions the view that tree plantations are a viable way of mitigating the climatic effects of industrial carbon-dioxide emissions. This “solution” to global warming is based on bad science, enlarges society’s ecological footprint, and reinforces neo-colonialist structures of power.

4 April 1999

This short article from 1993, from the journal Medicine and War, argues that the 1992 Earth Summit failed to address key issues of land distribution, rights and security. In doing so, it made it impossible to address its own purported environmental goals, which require respect for ordinary people's efforts to conserve the land and forests on which they depend.

Aubrey Meyer and Nicholas Hildyard

2 December 1997

Most scientists agree that human-made emissions of greenhouse gases have to be reduced signifiantly. The North is the main emitter of these gases and should make the most cuts. Many Southern countries argue that emission targets should be set on a per capita basis within a framework of “contraction and convergence”: per capita emissions should converge globally to an agreed ceiling, allowing emissions of developing countries to increase and those of developed countries to contract.