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Another carbon credit fraud – $2b. The faked fixed unfree market feeds crooks and makes no difference to emissions.

More news of how the faked fixed unfree market in carbon credits feeds the people who are inclined to cheat, and may have actually increased emissions by 600 million tonnes as well (not that that matters). Around $2 billion dollars may have been wasted, but it’s worse than wasted; the money does not just evaporate. Rewarding cheating takes money from honest players of society and feeds the corrupt sector. Free markets are a powerful tool, but good tools can be used in stupid ways. And so it is with a market trying to sell units of an atmospheric-absence-of-a-gas that no one really wants or has a use for.

The only people calling for a free market in carbon are the people who don’t know what a free market is. Sometimes a free market is just a dumb idea — like when trying to run a global market in a ubiquitous gas molecule that is intrinsic to life on Earth and oceanic chemistry. Worse, we think we might do it in countries with weak law and order, and high rates of corruption. Even sillier than that, we’re trying to sell units that depend on intentions — was that a sincere new attempt at carbon reduction or were you going to make less anyway? This is such a big-government leftie idea. If someone discovers a diamond deliberately, does that make it worth less on the market? Adam Smith would be rolling in his grave. A reduction is a reduction, and all CO2 molecules are the same. But therein lies the rub. The biggest market player is Summer.

From the Stockholm Environment Institute we find that things would be more honest and productive if the money did not cross borders:

The analysis indicates that about three-quarters of JI (Joint Initiative, meaning multi-country) offsets are unlikely to represent additional emissions reductions. This suggests that the use of JI offsets may have enabled global GHG emissions to be about 600 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent higher than they would have been if countries had met their emissions domestically.

They did a random sample of 60 projects and found barely 14% of the Emissions Reductions Units (ERUs) issued were “credible”. Fully 73% were not credible, and 12% were questionable.

According to the  BBC News Germany and Poland largely did the right thing, but Russia and Ukraine rorted the system (and what was going to stop them?). Apparently most of the projects to reduce emissions in Russia and Ukraine would have happened anyway. They were not “additional”. The carbon credit money was money for nothing. A lot of the other credits were paid to people who were probably artificially ramping up a gas called  HFC-23 so they could “cut back” on this super-arch-villain of greenhouse gases and claim credits for producing less pollution. HFC-23 is the godfather of greenhouse gases: it’s 11,700 times as powerful at warming as CO2 is.

The Russians and Ukrainians were just copying the Chinese and Indians who were rorting the exact same carbon-credit game five years ago. We have learned nothing.

BBC News : Carbon credits undercut climate change actions says report

The vast majority of carbon credits generated by Russia and Ukraine did not represent cuts in emissions, according to a new study.

The credits may have increased emissions by 600 million tonnes.

In some projects, chemicals known to warm the climate were created and then destroyed to claim cash.

As a result of political horse trading at UN negotiations on climate change, countries like Russia and the Ukraine were allowed to create carbon credits from activities like curbing coal waste fires, or restricting gas emissions from petroleum production.

 Under the UN scheme, called Joint Implementation, they then were able to sell those credits to the European Union’s carbon market. Companies bought the offsets rather than making their own more expensive, emissions cuts.

According to the review, the vast majority of the offset credits went into the European Union’s flagship Emissions Trading Scheme. The authors estimate these may have undermined EU emissions reduction targets by 400 million tonnes of CO2, worth over $2bn at current market prices.

Is that “plausible deniability” or not quite:

They found that, in 2011, all three projects in the study significantly and simultaneously ramped up the amount of the chemicals they were destroying.

“As researchers we can not prove the fraud, we can just point to the facts so in the HFC case at the moment when they could gain credits they immediately increased production of this greenhouse gas in order to destroy them, and that lead to them getting many more credits than if they had produced it like they did before,” said Anja Kollmuss.

Tellingly, the Russians say that they did nothing wrong, and anyhow, they’re not doing the Kyoto thing anymore, so who cares:

“All the projects have been validated and the additionality has been proved – it was all following the rules and if the rules allowed them to be in, so you have them in.”

Mr Yulkin pointed out that the projects were no longer an issue. The EU emissions trading scheme no longer accepted the credits – and Russia was not taking part in the next commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol.

Download the policy brief (PDF, 1.4MB)

Read the full study »

   Getting credit where credit was due,
   From ‘carbon’ has enriched quite a few,
   Where the name of the game,
   Is “additional” claim,
   And “cut back”in gasses not true.
— Ruairi

h/t ClimateDepot — the place with all the news.

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