Archive for Carbon market

Rules that need be neither bent nor broken

Photo (c) Darren Hester

The UK Government’s Low Carbon Transition Plan, published in July this year, makes the case for the creation of 10,000 hectares of new woodland a year for the next fifteen years. And that’s just for England: Scotland already has a similar target. If achieved, the English contribution alone could draw an estimated 50 million tonnes out of the atmosphere by 2050.

Only it’s not really a target. It’s an aspiration, an altogether different thing. Read the rest of this entry »


Greenwash, Ecobuild, Disclosure

Letting the train take the strainBit of a mixed bag this, and perhaps the title of this post is a little too sweeping, but then we’re feeling a little incensed by a recent article in the Independent. In a spectacularly poorly researched piece of dross, Simon Usborne and Helen Brown attempt to “face the facts many ecologists would rather ignore”.

There’s a grain of truth in some of them, such as the notion that food miles aren’t a bombproof proxy for the carbon footprint of a product. Indeed, we’ve touched on the same subject. Similarly, it’s true to say that an ancient woodland isn’t sequestering carbon at the same rate as a fast growing, young plantation of, say, eucalyptus trees. Read the rest of this entry »

The no-coal goal

Hopefully a thing of the past

Hopefully a thing of the past

In some parts of the world, tradition has it that naughty children find only a lump of coal in their Christmas stockings. They might not have presents to play with at Christmas, but at least the home fires will keep burning.

At Hogmanay, part of the Scottish tradition of first-footing (the first person to cross the threshold bringing luck, or ill-luck, to the household for the coming year) includes the presentation of a piece of coal to symbolize warmth.

And coal has hit the headlines this New Year. In an open letter to incoming US President Obama, Jim Hansen, head of Nasa’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, and wife Anniek stress both the urgency for action on climate change and the ineffectiveness of current policies. Read the rest of this entry »

How much should carbon cost?

Do trees grow on money?

Do trees grow on money?

Nowhere are the mysteries of carbon economics (carbonomics?) laid bare more than in the offsetting trade. Today’s internet prices for a tonne of CO2 varied from US$2 — yes, you did read that correctly — to a whopping 116 Swiss Francs, or US$95.55 at current exchange rates.

Some of the variability is perfectly legitimate. Carbon offset projects cost different amounts depending on their goals (e.g. wind farm vs tree planting) and location (industrialised vs developing countries). It stands to reason that the cost per tonne of CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent — the accepted measure of greenhouse gas emissions) varies with the complexity of a project and the associated cost of locking up carbon. Read the rest of this entry »

Carbon trading isn’t working

It's a dirty business

It's a dirty business

As the economic squeeze tightens, retailers, manufacturers and ultimately energy producers are experiencing a lower demand for their products. Less production means less pollution, which has to be a good thing, right?

Wrong. The trouble lies with the fact that we’re currently using two distinct currencies, money and carbon. In the good times, if that’s really what they are, the two work well together: demand drives prices of both production and the right to pollute. As production expands, the market for the limited and finite carbon permits heats up, pushing their price up. This in turn raises manufacturing costs, providing a steadying influence on the financial economy. Read the rest of this entry »