Carbon Trading: Pushing the Snooze Button on Climate Change?

Pinning our hopes on politicians' plans for carbon trading is a bit like using your digital alarm clock. The alarm rings, then we hit 'snooze' periodically -- with a multi-year interval between wake up calls....

At the moment, the entire world is sitting in the carbon trading waiting room. We have an illness -- a carbon-intensive lifestyle -- and are sitting, waiting at the doctor's office for treatment. What form that treatment will take is the big question, and one that is being debated worldwide. Aside from concerns over whether the treatment will be effective or not, there is also the big wait to factor in (expect word on treatment in late 2009, after which we'll be queued for a 2012 appointment...).

It is said, and it's not hard to believe, that a large industry can do more damage in a couple of hours than the average individual can make in their entire lifetime. While 'consumers' are generally targeted as the main culprits (it's very convenient for industry, and the politicians that pander to them, to pass the blame to the little guy), incentivising or mandating change in industry is therefore of the upmost importance. (Indeed, some industries need to disappear entirely, whilst other new no-carbon industries need to begin.)

These industries do 'serve' consumers, however, so no matter what way we look at it, the end user is at least partly responsible for the resource use, emissions and pollution of the industries whose products and services they avail themselves of. But, due to the mass consolidation of industry over the last few decades, it has become increasingly difficult for consumers to have a choice -- and even more difficult to really know the environmental cost of the products and services we use, as what we know about these industries is usually only what they tell us. Political frameworks/policies, industry, media and advertising largely shape social structures -- so consumers can ultimately end up being captive participants in a system not of their making.

Everyone knows that Kyoto I was a flop. Big polluting industries made windfall profits, and emissions are still rising every year, and, wait for it, are expected to not only continue increasing, but to escalate. A replacement for Kyoto is due in 2012.

But, while we wait, how about picking up a 'magazine' or three (see links below) so you can become familiar with the implications of different options? You'll see I've laid out previous Celsias posts for and against carbon trading, with some alternative options at bottom.

Let us know your thoughts on this important issue. The reality is, we really can't afford to wait until 2012. Change needs to take place yesterday. We've already gone past the danger zone in upsetting Ms. Gaia, so need to promptly retrace our steps -- difficult to do when most politicians worldwide adhere to the concept of needing to constantly 'grow the economy'. If we don't understand the issues at hand, then there's a very real possibility that little will get done until 2012 -- after which a system may get implemented that only serves industry desires to keep on polluting, while they put the burden of reducing emissions on small communities in developing countries (communities that are out of sight and out of mind for the average Northerner).

Note: If you have other links you think would be good to add to the list below, please add them via your comment. This post is also a good link to spread around to help your friends, family and colleagues get up to speed on this critical issue.

Easy-to-Understand Backgrounders:

For Carbon Trading: Against Carbon Trading: Alternatives:

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  • Posted on May 21, 2008. Listed in:

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