Tuesday, July 17, 2007

How to Game the Carbon Trade

In an earlier post we pointed out that the U.S. Climate Action Partnership wanted to game a U.S. Cap-and-Trade system by putting into law a "credit for early action", basically saying "we used to pollute so give us money". Even if a reduction was, as in the case of DuPont's sale of their Nylon business in 2004, driven soley by profit considerations.

Their argument is as queer as a three-dollar carbon credit.

Europe had gamed Kyoto by out-negotiating at Kyoto and getting 1990 set as the base year, thus getting credit for CO2 emissions cuts stemming from the re-unification of Germany (closure of the Ost's filthy factories) and the British switch from coal to natural gas (Maggie Thatcher's plan to weaken the miner's union),
you remember Enron's giant Teesside co-gen plant?

Well now it turns out Europe has been raising the amount of CO2 they said they emitted in 1990!

That's not just gaming, that's bald-faced B.S.
In America we call it moving the goalposts and even in American politics smart folks don't try to do it when the ball is in the air,
you'd be laughed out of the room

Here's a 2 page PDF on the ex post facto increase in Europe's 1990 emissions. Let's hope they've stopped going up (1990 that is).

From the CEI:

...What does this mean? At current, collapsed prices on the ETS for 2007 contracts this still equals about $33 million per year – or over $100 million at the price for December 2008 contracts – in credits that need not be purchased.

Europe may find some minor dignity in knowing that the ETS’s collapse has lessened the bottom-line egregiousness of their creative accounting by at the very least about $100 million dollars per year. This is not quite the same as being the sort of actor whose record encourages other countries to team up with you in such a venture.

This is particularly the case for countries – like the U.S. and unlike the EU – whose judiciary must enforce treaty obligations, an important consideration with Kyoto’s Parties having elected to make it otherwise non-binding.

Other implications would prove critical, were Europe not so obviously seeking to implement Kyoto in whatever fashion allows them to claim compliance, and further reduce its costs by whatever means necessary.

As previously noted, although the variance between the (now at least 6) collective EU-15 baselines is “just” 1.3%, this amount still appears likely to be the difference in whether the EU could even attempt to claim compliance with its 8%-below 1990 promise.