Carbon Trading Indulgences

Last night I was watching CBC and endured yet another discussion of why does Canada not implement Carbon trading to solve our pollution problems. ‘Let the market set a price on carbon’ and poof, all the issues are dealt with. Problem is, I have yet to read anything that explains how the carbon credit and trade process will actually address the problem. Then it hit me — these things are indulgences. Churchmen sold these things to anyone with the promise that all their sins past and future would be forgiven. The money went to the erection of that splendid edifice called the Vatican.

With these modern day equivalents, polluters can purchase forgiveness for their environmental sins. But now it is the non-polluters who will (in theory) profit by being able to sell their credits — as will the middlemen and others. I guess that the total population is supposed to shrink over time and the cost of the indulgences go up to provide financial incentives to invest in cleaning up the process. Yeah, sure. Once they get the idea that forgiveness can be bought that will probably be the end of the story.

Personally, I think the whole business is just nonsense. Another Enron-type scheme to help people make money from a broken situation. If there is no business justification for cleaning up (or abandoning) a dirty process it just won’t change. All the carbon trading stuff will do is perpetuate the situation and raise prices for everyone. (Did anyone notice that this might make less money available to do any cleanup?) But their sins will have been forgiven. And we will all have to pay.

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