What exactly is carbon pricing? Can we count on it to buy a free pass from impending climate doom—and build a just, green global economy all at the same time? Two recently published reports on market mechanisms and the climate crisis are essential reading for environmental activists trying to make sense of carbon offsets, REDD+ and cap and trade, collectively known as pollution trading.
Carbon Pricing: A Critical Perspective for Community Resistance was released by the Indigenous Environmental Network and Climate Justice Alliance right in the middle of COP 23 in Bonn, the latest UN Climate Talk where aggressive proponents of carbon markets were confronted by the Indigenous activists whose communities’ rights are being violated, and lands ruined by fossil fuel extraction. The report states that carbon market systems “only protect the fossil fuel industry and corporations from taking real climate action.” It’s intended as a tool in building grassroots resistance to false solutions. Key points:
- Carbon trading, carbon offsets and REDD+ are fraudulent climate mitigation mechanisms that help corporations and governments to continue extracting and burning fossil fuels.
- Revenues distributed to communities from carbon trading or carbon pricing never compensate for the destruction wrought by the extraction and pollution process required to obtain that revenue.
- The injustices, racism and colonialism of carbon-pricing schemes have worldwide effects that require international resistance.
Says Angela Adrar, Executive Director of Climate Justice Alliance, “We need this Just Transition to survive! This report demonstrates through a historical and international lens the mounting threats these markets have wreaked on frontline communities across the world. It is a call to action for community resistance and resilience.” Read the full report here.
Local environmental justice organization Greenaction partnered with Food & Water Watch to produce Paying to Pollute: The Environmental Injustice of Pollution Trading. Congresswoman Barbara Lee commented in the press release for the report: “As a member of the Appropriations and Budget Committees, I’m fighting to ensure that our government understands the reality of climate change and takes action to address it…. It’s time for us all to demand environmental justice and ensure that every community is protected from the devastating impacts of pollution and climate change. It is a moral imperative for Congress to take immediate action to end our reliance on fossil fuels.” Lee’s participation is not surprising, given the report’s obvious intent to bring the fight for environmental justice to the highest centers of American power.
Paying to Pollute has a clear, just-the-facts approach to mapping the realities of environmental racism and its perpetuation by carbon market trading schemes. It also provides a useful history of federal environmental regulations, with concrete suggestions for demanding their current enforcement. Another great guide for activists on how to keep fighting on the frontlines, in public hearings, and the courts—each fight also importantly serving to defend that progressive regulatory landscape which Trump—and Jerry Brown—have each set themselves to destroying.