Carbon Credit Watch

Troubling similarities between carbon credits and mortgage derivatives

(February 8, 2011)  Chuck Spinney at the Atlantic has written an interesting article comparing carbon credits to the complex mortgage derivatives that led to the financial meltdown.

One of central causes of the financial meltdown was the lack of transparency in the complex derivatives, like bundled mortgages and credit default swaps.  Advocates of global warming would have us to believe that they can construct a transparent carbon emissions trading scheme that will provide market incentives to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases.

At the center of this trading scheme is the idea of a carbon credit, which is a generic term for any tradable certificate or permit representing the right to emit one ton of carbon or carbon dioxide equivalent. Think of a carbon credit as property in a free market economy — Ayn Rand, meet Global Warming.

Excessive Carbon emissions (like smoke from a steel mill or a coal fired power plant) can, in theory, be offset by buying carbon credits.  But the calculations involved will make bundled mortgage derivatives look like second-grade arithmetic, and, as Terry Macalister reported in the Guardian on 4 Feb 2011, carbon credits are very vulnerable to fraud and theft, so traders are wary of them, to say the least.

Read the full story here. [PDFver here]

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