Citizen Action Monitor

Catherine McKenna cheers Canada’s pitch for corporate-friendly emissions trading at COP24

In fact, corporate-friendly “emission trading systems” are a “false solution” to climate change, say critics.

No 2405 Posted by fw, December 19, 2018

At the conclusion of the United Nations COP24 climate talks in Katowice, Poland, federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna boasted that Canada ‘played a leading role in laying the groundwork for a global carbon market.’ In short, this is a corporate-friendly approach backed by the World Bank Group in which a central authority allocates or sells a limited number of credits to corporations to discharge specific quantities of carbon pollution. … As COP24 ended McKenna stated, ‘Today demonstrates that multilateralism works to tackle a clear global problem — climate change.’ As populist movements rise up against the neoliberal multilateralism of the institutions that are failing us, McKenna is charting a precarious path both for the future of liberal democracy and more importantly, planet Earth.” —Brent Patterson, rabble.ca

Brent Patterson is a political activist and writer.

On a related note, in my commentary on PM Trudeau’s recent CBC interview, which included a brief discussion about the challenge of selling a “carbon price” to resistant provincial leaders, the PM’s answer reflected his oversimplified understanding of the extremely complex nature of the global climate system.  He went so far as to boast: “A lot of countries around the world are looking with a lot of interest at how Canada is moving forward on putting a price on pollution and supporting ordinary citizens through this transition. It is a model that is going to set us on a path to reach our Paris targets [of 2°C]. But Dr. Nathan Hagens, professor at the University of Minnesota where he teaches a systems synthesis Honors seminar, Reality 101, A Survey of Human Predicament, would beg to differ with the PM. In a 2015 article Carbon Fee and Dividend: It Won’t Work Hagens noted: “Proponents of carbon fee and dividend policies believe that it will drive consumption towards renewable energy but do not understand that renewable energy cannot generate the same level of wealth as fossil carbon. So the policy will cause an economic decline and risks a public backlash when it becomes clear that the policy was falsely advertised.” (Source: PM Trudeau’s elevated sense of self is laid bare in televised CBC News interview posted Dec. 14, 2018)

Below is my repost of Brent Patterson’s excellent article, featuring my added subheadings and text highlighting. To read the piece on the rabble.ca website, click on the following linked title.

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McKenna’s global carbon market plan more charade than genuine climate action by Brent Patterson, rabble.ca, December 18, 2018

Canada “played a leading role” in pushing for “global carbon market”, boasts Catherine McKenna

At the conclusion of the United Nations COP24 climate talks in Katowice, Poland, federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna boasted that Canada “played a leading role in laying the groundwork for a global carbon market.”

In fact, the corporate-friendly “carbon market” scheme is a “false solution” to climate change 

In short, this is a corporate-friendly approach backed by the World Bank Group in which a central authority allocates or sells a limited number of credits to corporations to discharge specific quantities of carbon pollution. Polluters that want to increase their carbon emissions must buy credits from other corporations willing to sell their excess credits.

McKenna further noted in her December 15 media statement that “Canada took part in the Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition” and that “more work remains over the next year to finalize the guidelines for international trading.”

Her comment suggests that COP25 — which will take place November 11-22, 2019 in Chile — may well be a key moment where this agenda will be furthered, or indeed as she hopes, finalized.

Opponents to emissions trading systems protest at COP24 forum promoting scheme

During COP24, Oil Change International noted, “Friends of the Earth International, Corporate Accountability and other NGOs demonstrated outside a forum by IETA — the International Emissions Trading System — for promoting false solutions to climate change.”

Hard evidence of effectiveness of ETS is lacking

The Bretton Woods Project, which critiques the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, has noted, “Despite the emergence of ETS [emission trading systems] markets in North America, Europe and China, the jury is still out on whether they can be an effective tool to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions.”

Carbon pricing of $10 a ton for most ETS too low to make a difference

That’s in part because most of these schemes price carbon at less than $10 a tonne, while the High-Level Commission on Carbon Prices recommends the price should be between US$40-$80 a tonne by 2020 and between US$50-$100 a tonne by 2030.

Trudeau government’s proposed price of $20 a ton is also too low, says economist

The federal carbon tax proposed by the Trudeau government will start at CAD$20 a tonne in 2019 and is scheduled to rise to CAD$50 a tonne in 2022. Somewhat echoing the High-Level Commission on Carbon Prices, Simon Fraser University economist Marc Jaccard has stated that the carbon tax in Canada would need to start at $30 next year and rise to $200 a tonne by 2030 to meet the federal government’s (weak) commitment under the Paris climate agreement.

During COP24, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce expressed its support for carbon pricing — with some significant caveats. Their report cautioned:

Carbon pricing systems cannot be a tax grab. Provincial and federal governments should use revenues to reduce the costs of climate policies to businesses and households through tax rebates or programs aimed at incentivizing investments in energy efficiency and other climate technologies.”

More pipelines needed, says Canadian Chamber of Commerce, boasting “generous support” from pipeline companies

Furthermore, the report says the Chamber will continue to advocate “for the pipelines necessary to get our oil to tidewater and to international markets.” This perhaps isn’t surprising given the report boasts that “this report was made possible by the generous support of” Enbridge and TransCanada!

In short, we have the Trudeau government pushing for a global carbon market and a carbon pricing scheme with the price per tonne well below what’s needed to meet even its weak carbon emission reduction targets (30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030).

Also on board with carbon pricing AND pipelines is “the voice of Canadian business”

Add to that “the voice of Canadian business” backing the scheme, but continuing to push for “pipelines” (plural), “streamlining regulatory processes” and cautioning governments to “avoid layering regulation on top of carbon pricing.”

“… more charade than action”

Coupled with the Trudeau government purchasing the Trans Mountain pipeline for $4.5 billion — and seemingly prepared to spend an additional $15 billion to expand that infrastructure to an 890,000-barrel-per-day tar sands pipeline — and it’s not hard to draw the conclusion that all this is more charade than action.

With global neoliberal multilateralism failing us, McKenna charts a “precarious path” for planet Earth

As COP24 ended McKenna stated, “Today demonstrates that multilateralism works to tackle a clear global problem — climate change.

As populist movements — both left-wing and right-wing — rise up against the neoliberal multilateralism of the institutions that are failing us, McKenna is charting a precarious path both for the future of liberal democracy and more importantly, planet Earth.

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This entry was posted on December 19, 2018 by in climate change, environmental activism, evidence based counterpower, political action and tagged , .
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