New Internationalist

Carbon Trading

Issue 399

According to the World Bank, the market in carbon dioxide will soon be worth billions.

Tony Blair is doing it. Coldplay does it. The World Cup can’t get enough of it. What’s so appealing to politicians, celebrities and sports organizers alike? They are all trading carbon dioxide. By giving cash to eco-entrepreneurs they can ‘offset’ responsibility for their pollution by paying someone somewhere else to reduce emissions for them. This is all part of the hottest new global market to erupt since the dot.com explosion. According to the World Bank, the market in carbon dioxide will soon be worth billions.

Beneath the celebrity sheen, however, lies a more sordid tale told brilliantly in this book – one in Development Dialogue’s new What Next? series. If the words ‘carbon trading’ make your brain go numb, this is for you. Lohmann adopts, quite literally, the form of a conversation, a dialogue with the reader, interspersed with case studies and images. In so doing he vividly reveals the world of international politics, NGO co-option, carbon colonialism and inspired grassroots movements. Shocking stories from India to Guatemala show how pollution, land-grabbing and human rights abuses are being perpetrated in the name of ‘carbon trading to save the world’.

Yet through all the doom and gloom Lohmann’s book is bursting with strategies for tackling climate change from a social justice perspective. It might even leave you feeling quite upbeat. One word of warning though – do not try to read Carbon Trading in one sitting. Take it slowly; it’s invitingly dip-in-able.

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