BBC2 Television's Newsnight current affairs programme summarised its 8 minute broadcast: "In 2006, the British government scotched a serious fraud investigation into BAE's biggest deal, with Saudi Arabia. Now, Peter Marshall [Newsnight presenter] reveals that the company may have returned the favour. It has stopped a billion pound insurance contract which tied the government to the Saudi business." Information about stopping the insurance contract came to light as a result of legal correspondence between The Corner House and Campaign Against Arms Trade with the UK Export Credits Guarantee Department.

The US public television's flagship public affairs programme, Frontline, produced a 60-minute documentary on "black money" -- the secret payments that make up the shadowy world of international bribery. It reveals how multinational companies create slush funds and set up front companies to obtain business and contracts. In describing the crackdown on these practices, the documentary focuses on BAE Systems and allegations about its billion dollar bribes. It includes an interview with former Serious Fraud Office (SFO) Director Robert Wardle, who describes as "blackmail" the Saudi threat to withdraw intelligence cooperation with the UK if the SFO's BAE-Saudi investigation continued.

Proposals for Green New Deals aimed at tackling both global warming and global recession are streaming forth worldwide. Unfortunately, many give short shrift to the need to phase out both fossil fuels and fossil fuel substitutes. Many also rely on obsolete conceptions of technology transfer. Future climate movements will have to focus increasingly on the democratization of research, planning and finance.

Can the financial derivatives markets be regulated? Can the carbon markets be regulated? The questions are parallel. Both markets try to commodify new things: in the case of the financial markets an unprecedented range of uncertainties; in the carbon markets, the earth's carbon-cycling capacity. Regulation tends to assume that any problems with either market can be handled by "internalizing externalities"; this approach will fail. A more practical approach to these markets' problems looks to decommodification. Both approaches, however, have attracted supporters from across the political spectrum.


La imposibilidad de regular los mercados derivados financieros y de carbono

¿Es posible regular los mercados derivados financieros? ¿Es posible regular los mercados de carbono? Estas preguntas son parecidas. Ambos mercados tratan de comercializar nuevas cosas. Los nuevos mercados financieros tratan de comercializar una serie de incertidumbres sin precendentes; los mercados de carbono tratan de comercializar la capacidad del mundo natural para absorber dióxido de carbono. Muchos funcionarios gubernamentales y académicos asumen que cualquier problema de estos mercados puede ser manejado con "internalizar externalidades". Esto no es cierto. Un enfoque más práctico a los problemas de estos mercados es la desmercantilización.

Carbon permit prices flashing on electronic screens in Wall Street trading rooms reflect a complex political movement to reorganize and redistribute power and knowledge. The carbon markets associated with the Kyoto Protocol, the EU Emissions Trading Scheme and the US's Waxman-Markey Act constitute perhaps the last great class project of a waning neoliberal regime – the ill-fated attempt to privatize the climate itself.


El neoliberalismo y el mundo calculable: El ascenso del comercio de carbono

Los precios de los derechos de emisión de dióxido de carbono que aparecen en las pantallas de las computadoras de Wall Street reflejan un movimiento político complejo para reorganizar y redistribuir el poder y el conocimiento. Los mercados de carbono del Protocolo de Kioto y el Esquema del Comercio de Emisiones de la Unión Europea son uno de los últimos grandes proyectos del neoliberalismo – un intento malhadado de privatizar el clima. Este capítulo del libro, "El neoliberalismo y el mundo calculable: El ascenso del comercio de carbono", describe las contradicciones del intento de formar una mercancía con el clima.

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.