carbon trading

Climate change is already impacting our lives. As it gets worse, we will be affected by more floods and storms, bushfires and droughts.

Globally there will be less clean water and farmland available. This disproportionately affects those who have the least — women, Indigenous people and those living in exploited nations.

Climate change is a result of an economic system — capitalism — in which private companies’ profit-making is privileged over the real needs of communities and their environments.

The statement below was released by the Socialist Alliance on March 6.

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The carbon price framework recently agreed to by the ALP and the Greens is a step in the wrong direction.

This is not because, as the Coalition says, the economy — read the profits of big business — cannot afford to cut emissions. It’s because the framework will be counterproductive to real action on climate change.

The highest prices now being discussed will simply stimulate a mass rollout of gas, extending Australia's commitment to fossil fuels at the expense of renewable energy.

On the surface, Labor PM Julia Gillard appears to have done an about-face on climate change in the weeks since Labor scraped back into government. Immediate action on climate change — especially setting a carbon price — is back on the agenda, she says.

The Labor minority government has given in to a Greens demand for a new parliamentary committee on climate change. In doing so, Labor appears to be backing away from its pre-election promise to delay new climate legislation until 2013.

The US emission trading scheme in sulphur dioxide (SO2) — the gas that causes acid rain — is widely held as proof that the market can cut pollution.

Pro-market commentators point to the success of this “acid rain market” as evidence that similar kinds of carbon trading schemes are the best way to tackle climate change.

New York Times columnist Paul Krugman said on April 11 the scheme showed “that it is generally best to rely on a market-based approach”.

But this poster child for emissions trading has now collapsed in a heap.

The global carbon market, which trades “pollution rights” to encourage industry to cut greenhouse gas emissions, grew in 2009. Far from signaling a success, this reflects a huge increase in fraud, the dumping of surplus emissions permits by industry, and a rise in financial speculation.

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