UN May Rein In
Carbon Trading Scam
JOHN HEILPRIN -
Associated Press Writer - Associated Press
Manufacturing.Net - August 23, 2010
UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- An obscure U.N. board that oversees a $2.7
billion market intended to cut heat-trapping gases has agreed to take
steps that could lead to it eventually reining in what European and
U.S. environmentalists are calling a huge scam.
At a meeting this
week that ended Friday, the executive board of the U.N.'s Clean
Development Mechanism said that five chemical plants in China would no
longer qualify for funding as so-called carbon offset credits until
the environmentalists' claims can be further investigated.
The "CDM" credits have been widely used in
the carbon trading markets of the European Union, Japan and other
nations that signed onto the 1997 Kyoto Protocol requiring mandatory
cuts in greenhouse gases.
Rather than cut their own carbon emissions, industrialized nations can
buy the credits which then pay developing countries to cut their
greenhouse gases instead.
But environmentalists say rich
nations could be wasting billions of dollars on what some are calling
"perverse financial incentives," because some of the largest
projects funded by the U.N.-managed CDM are a golden goose for
chemical makers without making meaningful cuts in emissions.
The CDM executive board, based in Bonn,
Germany, has asked for a decades' worth of data on the gases from
those five plants in China to study whether the system was
revolves around the apparent conflict between the Kyoto climate treaty
and another U.N. treaty, the 1987 Montreal Protocol for repairing the
Earth's fragile ozone layer.
The money from the
CDM-authorized fund goes to pay the carbon offset credits claimed by
more than 20 chemical makers mostly in China and India, but also in
nations such as South Korea, Argentina and Mexico.
The chemical makers are paid as much as $100,000
or more for every ton they destroy of a potent greenhouse gas,
HFC-23. The price for destroying it is based on its being 11,700
times more powerful as a climate-warming gas than carbon dioxide.
But that gas is a byproduct of
an ozone-friendly refrigerant, HCFC-22, which those chemical makers
also are paid to produce under the U.N.'s ozone treaty.
Environmentalists say there is so much money in getting rid of HFC-23
that the chemical makers are overproducing HCFC-22 to have more of the
byproduct to destroy.
"The evidence is overwhelming that
manufacturers are creating excess HFC-23 simply to destroy it and earn
carbon credits," said Mark Roberts of the Environmental
Investigation Agency, a research and advocacy group.
"This is the biggest environmental scandal in history and
makes an absolute mockery of international efforts to combat climate
HCFC-22 is widely used in hair sprays, air conditioners and
some refrigerators because it less damaging to the seasonal ozone hole
over Antarctica than previous coolants. It has been promoted
under the ozone treaty, often considered one of the world's most
successful environmental treaties, as a replacement for
chloroflourocarbons [sic ], or CFCs.