Wednesday December 16th, “Reclaim Power” day in Copenhagen, inside the Africans are shouting at the Ethiopians and outside the Climate Justice advocates are shouting at the COP who they accuse of being co-opted by corporate lobbyists. To a lobbyist climate change is an opportunity. Should the worst come to the worst they can take the last high speed yacht out of Houston to their favorite Caribbean Island and batten down the hatches in hurricane season.
There is a dearth of hope in Copenhagen, the islands states claim genocide and technically they are correct but no-one listens. Justice is the last thing on people’s minds in the Bella Center, and the second last thing on their minds is global warming. Their climate problems come from slipping on the ice in leather soled shoes or having to wait for their Mercedes taxis in the snow without an umbrella.
What is on people’s minds is money and the numbers are enormous. The Clean Development System (CDM) is a procedure made in America. The Clinton delegation said that the US would never sign a treaty that was not market based and did not have CDM (MDL in Spanish), the rest of the world said “Yes!” and the US did not sign anyway.
The Global South is looking for money too in the form of reparations. Not just seriously affected regions like Andean Bolivia and coastal Peru, highly dependent on glacial water supplies, but also the middle income countries like Argentina are calling for the repayment of “Ecological Debt”. Maybe these oil exporting countries, and one might include Venezuela in this too, might want to stop exporting oil before they ask for reparations for a problem from those who burn their own oil?
In the end the flurries of activity in Copenhagen are not about oil, nor are they about debt, but they very much about finance. The annex one countries and most especially the United States are there to create markets, markets in carbon credits, their offsets, and their derivatives. Financial services are what their economy do best, at least in the short term.
Sure if the US accepts a Kyoto-like deal in Copenhagen they too will have to buy carbon-credits abroad thereby imposing a cost on their economy, but this could be more than ‘offset’ by creating ever more CDM offsets thereby increasing supply and keeping their costs down. Also if their carbon traders could even get half of the commissions charged by the World Bank on offset trades (18% of the transaction) they would be happy indeed. However difficult this might be for the real economy, the three trillion US dollar carbon credit market will keep Citibank Financial and Goldman Sachs happy.
A Happy Christmas (2009) to all.