This week our blog features our Global Environment Campaign, Fin Walraven’s comments on the latest developments:
It’s been a busy few weeks here as we’ve started to look at a new area of work, involving the carbon markets. All quite complicated I’m afraid-would you expect anything else from the Global Environment Campaign!?
So in a nut shell here’s the story … under UN Climate talks European companies have to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. They can use carbon markets to ‘offset’ part of these reductions, whereby they pay factories in developing countries such as India and China to stop emitting greenhouse gases instead. In theory this can be a good thing as it promotes clean, sustainable development in developing countries. However the reality, sadly, is sometimes quite different. Under the European carbon markets companies, including power suppliers such a British Gas, EDF and Endel, have been shelling out huge sums of money to factories in developing countries to get them to destroy a very potent greenhouse gas called HFC-23. This is a waste gas emitted in the production of refrigerant chemicals.
Here’s where the madness becomes clear. It costs factories about 12 pence for every carbon dioxide equivalent tonne of the HFC-23 waste gas they destroy but European companies can pay up to £10 for every tonne of carbon dioxide they need to offset. This is outrageous as it’s we, the consumer, who has to pay for this via increased electricity bills. Clearly it’s time to rethink how we fund the destruction of these HFC-23 waste emissions; it’s pretty obvious that the carbon markets are not the right place for it. So EIA has decided to do something about it. Two weeks ago I travelled over to Brussels to tell Members of the European Parliament about this scandal and they were incensed by what we said. The next step is to get a review of Europe’s carbon markets started and then work towards removing these useful HFC-23 credits from these markets so they can be dealt with in a much more cost-effective and sensible manner…watch this space!