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.

One lesson the financial crisis teaches us is: beware of the new carbon markets that constitute today's main official response to climate change. These markets are startlingly similar to the financial derivatives markets that have thrown banking systems into a tailspin. (German version also available.)


Mercados de incertidumbres y mercados de carbono: variaciones en temas de Polanyi

Una de las lecciones que la crisis financiera nos enseña es a tener cuidado con los nuevos mercados de carbono que constituyen hoy la principal respuesta oficial al cambio climático. Este artículo de la revista New Political Economy argumenta que estos mercados son sorprendentemente similares a los mercados de derivados financieros que arrojaron a los sistemas bancarios al caos en 2008.

In March 2009, the UK government published a Draft Bribery Bill, which a Joint Committee comprising members of both Houses of Parliament scrutinised in May and June, taking oral and written evidence from a wide range of individuals and organisations, including The Corner House. The Committee's final report, published on 28 July 2009, "strongly support[s]" the draft Bribery Bill. "It represents an important, indeed overdue, step in reforming the United Kingdom's bribery laws, which have been a source of criticism at home and abroad for more than thirty years."

These days, being a climate activist can easily get you arrested -- or worse. But the bigger danger -- especially for activists in industrialized countries -- may be that of being seduced into expending all your energies promoting "solutions" that turn out to be bogus.

40. Studying the financial crisis and the climate crisis together can provide useful tools for understanding how to tackle both. Overconfident commodification of uncertainty (in the form of a trade in new and complex derivatives) helped precipitate a global economic crash. Overconfident commodification of climate benefits (in the form of a trade in carbon) threatens to hasten an even worse catastrophe.


Cuando los mercados son veneno: Aprender sobre política climática de la crisis financiera

El estudio simultáneo de la crisis financiera y la crisis climática puede proporcionar herramientas útiles para hacer frente a las dos. Los intentos imprudentes de mercantilizar incertidumbres (en la forma de un mercado de derivados complejos) ayudaron a provocar una crisis económica mundial. Los intentos irresponsables de comercializar el clima amenazan con contribuir a una catástrofe aún peor.

Here is the long-awaited latest issue of a magazine aimed at returning the dialogue about climate change and its solutions to the "public space." Featured are pathbreaking articles uncovering the reality of UN-sanctioned "carbon saving" projects in the metals, hydroelectric, wind power, chemicals, waste management and electricity generating sectors, as well as analyses of the political economy of the scientific controversies over the monsoon and over Asia's so-called "brown cloud" of pollution.

A talk at a Cardiff Business School conference on the insights from political organising that can help not only understand what caused the financial crisis but also develop ways forward that could ensure it is not repeated and that finance serves a public purpose.

This short contribution to a Forum discussion on climate change in the journal Global Social Policy outlines how and why the climate solution requires turning away from fossil fuel dependence and how the main official approach to the climate crisis worldwide -- building a single, liquid global carbon market worth trillions of dollars -- is likely to make climate change worse, not only exacerbating its social impacts but also generating negative impacts of its own.

Overpopulation arguments in climate debates serve to delay making structural changes in North and South away from the extraction and use of fossil fuels; to justify increased and multiple interventions in the countries deemed to hold surplus people; and to excuse those interventions when they cause further environmental degradation, migration or conflict. Population numbers, in sum, offer no useful pointers toward policies that should be adopted to tackle climate change.

This book presents case studies and critiques of carbon offset markets from around the world, emphasizing how this pillar of current mainstream climate policy affects the lives of communities. The book also presents alternatives to carbon markets which enable communities to live low-carbon lives.