February 02, 2010

Even without an education in finance, the strong point made in this, the conclusion of Mark Schapiro’s article in Harper’s Magazine, has a ring of disheartening truth:

“Indeed, carbon exists as a commodity only through the decisions of politicians and bureaucrats, who determine both the demand, by setting emissions limits, and the supply, by establishing criteria for offsets. It was the United States that sculpted the cap-and-trade system during the Kyoto negotiations, before pulling out of the accord and leaving the rest of the world to implement the scheme. Since then, most of the world’s major political financial and environmental interests have aligned themselves with the idea, because of its potential to generate profits out of adversity and to avoid the difficult economic decisions posed by climate change. Now the Obama Administration and the Democratic Congress – along with most American companies, which see cap-and-trade as the friendliest regulation they could hope for – want to rejoin the world and multiply the market. That market is, in essence, and elaborate shell game, a disappearing act that nicely serves the immediate interests of the world’s governments but fails to meet the challenges of our looming environmental crisis.”

Mark Schapiro, Harper’s Magazine, February 2010

The metaphor of the Shell Game seems fitting, conjuring both the feel of deceit and exposing the economic incentives that foster short-term goals. Has the world lost sight of, or rather, does the world understand the long-term goal? Beyond grassroots organizations, it seems so at times.

Earlier we discussed the protests that surrounded the Copenhagen Summit, and what seemed like a large division between the parties involved and their interests. Perhaps that division runs deeper, and that rift might prove to be more detrimental than I had thought. But still, I can’t believe that many international parties don’t have good intentions.

Is that naïve?

Categories: General News