On Rorting Carbon Trading

“It is clear carbon emissions trading will continue to grow, nationally and internationally.

“At the moment the two biggest schemes are the European Union’s Emissions Trading Scheme and the UN’s Clean Development Mechanism, both of which arose from the Kyoto Protocol.

“According to estimates by the World Bank released in May, the total world carbon-trading market in 2006 was $US30 billion ($35 billion), with the ETS accounting for $US24.4billion and the CDM $US5.2 billion. It is a pity both these schemes have been disgracefully rorted…

Read the complete article by Alan Wood here: http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,20867,21895314-31478,00.html

39 Responses to On Rorting Carbon Trading

  1. Toby June 15, 2007 at 12:43 pm #

    If we rally want to cut emissions, then it seems to me a direct tax on carbon use is the best way to do it. Force up the price and we will naturally substitute away towards cheaper energy.
    The traders will be the ones who make money out of a cap and trade, and it certainly appears that there will be little if any real reduction.
    Arnost’s link yday to a tax based on changes in atmospheric temp was an interesting one because irrespective of your belief in the effects of co2 the tax would move in tandem with temp change.

    Of course if china and india do not partake then its all pointless anyway! And since they won t we will be giving the third world a significant advantage over the rest of us. Some would argue this is fair and will promote growth in these countries. I am sure china and india are laughing big time at us.

  2. Luke June 15, 2007 at 1:19 pm #

    I think you have omitted inertia in the system Toby. Ain’t as simple as this year’s temperature. And give the market unclear ever-changing signals and you’ll get a schmozzle. e.g. you’d like a tax system that varied markedly from year to year?

    The Indians and Chinese may be laughing or crying – depends what happens to their water supplies?

    You need to do the full simulation not just parts of it and assume everything else stays still.

  3. Anthony June 15, 2007 at 1:28 pm #

    Toby, China and India have a long way till they meet our per capita emissions so really they have every right to expect us to come to the party first.

    If we can’t take economic advantage from developing efficiency and clean energy improvements it will be our own fault, not theirs.

    Bring on a carbon price and let the games begin I say

  4. Ian Mott June 15, 2007 at 1:34 pm #

    Of course the trading is being rorted. It is based on the Kyoto rort and is being run by the same people who gave us the cheese mountain, the butter mountain, the beef mountain, the wine mountain, the pork mountain and the milk mountain.

    And now they want us to carry the cost of their carbon mountain?

  5. Toby June 15, 2007 at 2:15 pm #

    Luke, if carbon really is a problem, and we have to cut , the idea re Arnost’s link at least allows for a moving target, that could lead to dramatic cuts if the forecasts occur. If they don t then the price of carbon falls to zero ( seriously doubt theyd ever pay us to produce it!).

    You are quite right a tax that varies dramatically would be far far from perfect. But an outright cap and trade i believe will have questionable benefits in terms of real cuts in co2. If we need to cut then a tax will at least see the funds in govt hands, not as profits for businesses and traders/ speculators.

  6. gavin June 15, 2007 at 2:41 pm #

    Wood says “Rudd has promised to set up a national standard for carbon offsets intended to protect firms and households from being ripped off by what he calls the green-shoe brigade. But as the failure of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission to sort out shonky property companies shows, in the end investors can’t expect any scheme to be foolproof”

    Jennifer; the question remains – can we trust the biz sector to sort out anything long term with or with out regulations?

    IMO governments and the media “The Australian” writers included meerly reflect what the business sector requires in the short term.

    Growth as always drives the economy. Regular investors seem most unwilling to buy greenhouse concepts or strategies given the three decades or so weve been talking about the dangers of AGW.

  7. SJT June 15, 2007 at 2:46 pm #

    I heard that because the Australian tax system is being rorted, the Howard Government is going to give up on collecting taxes.

  8. Anthony June 15, 2007 at 3:26 pm #

    Ian, entertain us, exactly what are these cheese, wine etc mountains and exactly how were they dumped on us, presumably by Eurospivs?(your term)

  9. rog June 15, 2007 at 6:38 pm #

    You mean you dont know where to find the butter mountain, wine lake and the gravy train?

    In gaelic it is sliabh ime, loch fíona and sruth na meala

    First, take a trip to Brussels, then turn Left…

  10. chrisl June 15, 2007 at 7:32 pm #

    Anthony:The surpluses Ian is talking about are/were very real.Caused by the European Union subsidising farmers to allow Europe to be self sufficient in food production.It allowed inefficient small farmers to stay in business,proucing food that nobody wanted.At the height of the lunacy housewives were paying a pound a pound for butter, while the same butter was being sold to Russia for 19 pence.
    The European Union is up to something with the IPCC. Don’t trust them. They are sneaky bastards!

  11. Luke June 15, 2007 at 8:46 pm #

    Lordy me it’s depressing. The Euros are all are spivs. The yanks are invading. North Korea wants their coin back or else. The Chinese say we can’t talk to the Dalai. The Rusky’s are threatening to retarget us triple fold. Johnny’s rented out Kirribili. Rudd’s losing ground. Ian’s not attacking. Warwick Hughes hasn’t apologised to Rolf. And the debate about global warming is over. Sigh.. ..

  12. W.J.Pounder June 16, 2007 at 12:42 am #

    so Luke that means you can give up your day and night job!

  13. Aaron Edmonds June 16, 2007 at 10:55 am #

    And along comes cellulosic ethanol and all of the sudden those carbon sinks that have locked away valuable land from food production are likely to be eyed for their feedstock potential to fuel (excuse the pun) the liquid fuels market. Anything carbon is fair game! Carbon payments are pittance.

    Carbon trading is great in theory but in a carbon constrained world I doubt it will survive significant carbon fuel based hyperinflation. Particularly if the global economy sinks into recession and then depression once this period of unprecedented loose monetary policy comes a cropper, oil prices work their way strongly higher and/or food hyperinflation potentially starts to ignite spot shortages in the most import dependent nations.

  14. Aaron Edmonds June 16, 2007 at 11:03 am #

    And you won’t be seeing any food commodity mountains in the future … sorry those days will be the talk of legend in the future as a century of overindulgence and complacency.

    The Europeans aren’t a threat to anyone. They produce nothing in surplus we need or are likely to ever need in the future unless you count the chronicled escapades of Borat as an essential commodity. Its just the next chapter in the ‘immerse the humans in nonsensical green ideology’ epic to keep them from asking questions about natural resource (oil and gas) security.

  15. Schiller Thurkettle June 16, 2007 at 12:10 pm #

    I can just see all that money floating around sucking CO2 out of the air… some kind of novel adhesive currency.

    With the $US24.4billion and the CDM $US5.2 billion, your droughts and stuff should be getting better real fast!

    This money could have gone for medical care and stuff. Maybe even some research. So I guess unmeasurable results are more important.

    This is the coolest [sic] scam I’ve ever seen. You rip people off, and they actually enjoy it!

  16. Ian Mott June 16, 2007 at 1:09 pm #

    It is very easy to see the mountains of euroscamery, Anthony. Just take your head out of the paper bag. Which planet have you been on for the past half century, Gonzo Prime?

    The European Union IS the IPCC. That in itself is a scam where 27 provinces of the one country get 27 votes in the UN General Assembly and a majority vote in the IPCC.

    But the bit of Rudd$hit I like best is the notion that Australia won’t even get a vote on the EUPCC unless we ratify Kyotos Interuptus first. Can you believe the undemocratic logic of these dropkicks?

  17. Walter Starck June 16, 2007 at 2:47 pm #

    The Canadian economist Ross McKitrick (of hockeystick debunking fame/infamy) has recently

    proposed what appears to be a much superior alternative to carbon trading. It involves a carbon tax

    tied to actual levels of warming and would seem to meet the expressed concerns of both skeptics and

    alarmists. For more details see:

    I expect that most skeptics will favor it but that AGW supporters will somehow find reasons to

    oppose it. Too much is at stake to risk actual climate upsetting things. For the politically oriented the

    threat of catastrophic AGW has afforded a powerful lever to steer the course of humanity away from

    consumerism, gobalization, capitalism, growth, American influence and sundry other perceived evils.

    For many too, catastrophic AGW is more a faith than a fact and no faith ever willingly assents to

    empirical limitation. Making their virtuous demands subject to actual temperature change would be

    too much like dancing with the devil. Then, there are the recent converts attracted by the scent of

    prospective profits and to whom a tax rather than tradeable credits would indeed be the work of the

    devil himself.

    It will be interesting to see the reactions here.

  18. Luke June 16, 2007 at 3:26 pm #

    Indicates why McKitrick should stick to economics and working out radians from degrees.

    (1) Look the at the temperature growth curve in the last 30 years – your tax would be going up and down a fair bit.
    (2) Hit a 1998 spike and you’ll pay a mottsa
    (3) Doesn’t account for inertia in the system – takes year for the climate system to equilibrate to our current inputs of CO2 – you can’t steer it like a rudder
    (4) Doesn’t account for biopsheric feedbacks set in train
    (5) UAH data are dodgy stuff that’s always into review as to the next calibration and what it means – rember we’ve been from cooling to warming already with this data set

  19. Arnost June 16, 2007 at 5:39 pm #


    1/2 You can always take a rolling mean of say 5 years… that will smooth out any spikes and leave the underlying trend.

    3/4 So what…? All you are doing is measuring a temp – the “feedback” that causes it or with waht lag is irrelevant.

    5 Not a problem – UAH has been around for a long time and most of the kinks are probably worked out of the system. In any case, if it’s agreed that that’s the base, then all you need to worry about is the future anomaly to this base. Taking the average of RSS & UAH is also an easy solution.

    The two real problems are (as per our last exchange) somebody like GHCN/GISS adjusting the raw data to suit, and the fact that SOMETHING ELSE OTHER THAN CO2 is causing the temp increase.

    And it really is unfortunate that you can’t resist the ad hom. Is it really necessary? (The rain in Maine falls minly in the Seine).



  20. Pinxi June 16, 2007 at 5:44 pm #

    if the EU is no threat to anyone then why are you lot so bloody obsessed with them?

  21. Luke June 16, 2007 at 6:19 pm #

    “most of the kinks worked out of the system” – oh yea ! – which year did they revise the calibration – 2 years ago? and still fiddling. Ever played with NOAA satellite data?

    lags – try decades – rethink what you think about the climate system.

    The ad hom – yes I felt I needed to. Was built up abuse lag (blog inertia) in my system.

    And now we have a “fact” that something else is causing temp increase. Oh yea? Like what?

  22. Aaron Edmonds June 16, 2007 at 9:52 pm #

    You want to produce carbon, not food? Strange world …

    Global food abundance no longer guaranteed

    Last Updated: 1:33am BST 13/06/2007

    Global food abundance no longer guaranteed
    Hunger strikes? Global stocks of corn are at crisis levels as voracious ethanol plants eat up output

    Global corn stocks have fallen to the lowest level since modern records began as ethanol plants gobble up output and demand balloons in China, early evidence that the era of global food abundance may be nearing an end.

    Corn (maize) inventories have fallen to just 40 days’ consumption in America, according to the US Department of Agriculture, beneath the record low reached in 1973. The average is 88 days.

    Corn prices have doubled since the middle of last year, with ripple effects spreading to other crops that compete for scarce land. The soaring cost of animal feed has in turn pushed up meat and dairy prices worldwide.

    In New Zealand, the central bank cited a 60pc rise in milk prices as the chief reason for the latest increase in interest rates to 8pc.

    China’s food inflation reached 8.3pc in May, with rises of 33pc in eggs and 27pc in meat prices – not helped by an outbreak of swine fever. For now, the Communist Party is relaxed, hoping that costlier food will keep peasants on the land and slow the rush to urbanisation.

    Europe’s confectioners are reeling from a 40pc rise in butter prices over the past year, another symptom of the “agflation” hitting most food products. Food inflation is running at 6pc in Britain, 3.9pc in America, 4.9pc in Australia and 2.5pc in the eurozone. Food makes up about 13pc of the price index tracked by central banks in the rich OECD states.

    The European Commission no longer has reserves to help manage the market, having dismantled its mountains of butter, meat and powdered milk under reform of the Common Agricultural Policy.

    Brussels has drastically cut stocks of grains, and will soon close its maize silos altogether. Over the past year, EU barley stocks have fallen from 2.2m tonnes to 0.1m, wheat from 5.5m to 0.2m and maize from 5.6m to 2.6m.

    Michael Lewis, head of commodities research at Deutsche Bank, said grain prices still had much further to rise, predicting a long catch-up rally over coming years after lagging behind metals and oil in the early phase of the boom.

    “Fundamentals have been tightening ever since 2001, but now we’re hitting critically low levels of stocks. We’re seeing very big structural shifts in the world and this is going to make farmland much more expensive in the future,” he said.

    “Shortages are emerging in places like India, which has become a net importer of wheat for the first time since 1975. We expect China to become an importer of corn by late 2008.”

    Urban sprawl is eating up swathes of China’s most fertile land on the eastern seaboard. Crucially, the country’s 1.3bn people are switching steadily to a high-protein diet as they become wealthy, following the pattern seen in Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea.

    China’s annual meat consumption is now 6kg per capita, compared with 13kg for its richer neighbours, so it is still likely to double again. Perversely, animal protein diets use much more grain. As a rule of thumb, it takes 10kg of animal feed – mostly corn in China – to produce 1kg of meat.

    Supply is diminishing from the United States, source of 70pc of the world’s corn. America has switched a fifth of its corn harvest to ethanol as part of a strategic drive to cut dependence on oil from the Middle East. The figure was just 4pc in 2000.

    While farmers across the prairies are planting corn to reap windfall gains, this entails a cut in acreage of other crops.

    Even on a cyclical basis, Deutsche Bank says the corn boom remains young, far behind the 237pc rise from June 1972 to October 1974. Grain prices would have to jump 230pc from current levels to reach the 1970s peak in real terms.

    The question is whether the gathering food boom is a classic late-cycle symptom of inflation pressures, or something deeper, and possibly more ominous.

    Experts say food output can be raised in the Black Sea area, parts of Brazil and Africa, but arable land is not easily available. The world population will peak around 2040 but for now it is growing by 73m a year. Thomas Malthus, who predicted more than two centuries ago that population would outrun food supply, may yet enjoy a posthumous vindication, but farmers at least can smile.


  23. Schiller Thurkettle June 17, 2007 at 12:01 pm #

    I have to wonder…

    Is there a carbon investment scheme that guarantees your money back if things get colder?

    That would be clincher for some. Might even make some sense!

    Is there a carbon investment scheme that guarantees your money back if the investments don’t make things get colder?

    That would be good, too.

    Ah, well, these ideas would only work if carbon schemers were honest.

  24. wjp June 18, 2007 at 1:33 am #

    Further to Aaron’s posting Bernstein Research has U.S. food inflation at 6.7% annualized and is tipping 21% for the year which is line to be the largest increase since 1980. Ah,1980 inflation of 14%+ and it’s old mate interest rates of…… You know the figure! Doesn’t auger well for co2 if we all end up busting our bums struggling to exist in the economic environment.

  25. wjp June 18, 2007 at 1:36 am #

    Further to Aaron’s posting Bernstein Research has U.S. food inflation at 6.7% annualized and is tipping 21% for the year which is line to be the largest increase since 1980. Ah,1980 inflation of 14%+ and it’s old mate interest rates of…… You know the figure! Doesn’t auger well for co2 if we all end up busting our bums struggling to exist in that economic environment.

  26. Blair Bartholomew June 18, 2007 at 2:10 pm #

    Dear wjp
    Perhaps you could explain what is meant by:
    1.food inflation at 6.7% annualized
    2.21% for the year and
    3.1980 inflation of 14%+ and it’s old mate interest rates of…
    Bit of a mystery to me.

  27. wjp June 18, 2007 at 11:34 pm #

    Sorry Blair I meant to slip in a link:

  28. Aaron Edmonds June 19, 2007 at 10:14 am #

    wjp … Own fertilizer stocks! Its the best hedge against food based inflation out there. A great investment too. Reward Minerals is developing Australia’s only potash resource here in WA (RWD.AX). I like Minemakers (MAK.AX) also as they hold Australia’s second largest undeveloped phosphate resource. Crisis and opportunity! 😉

  29. Ian Mott June 19, 2007 at 11:41 am #

    I recently had a conversation with a truck owner/driver who had experimented with biodiesel. His conclusion was that the stuff was crap as it clogged up his oil filters. And the cost of replacing truck oil filters was far in excess of any benefit he might have got from the biodiesel.

    Don’t junk the coal stocks yet fellas.

  30. Schiller Thurkettle June 19, 2007 at 12:10 pm #

    The greens, at least the few of them that pay attention, know that buying and selling carbon offsets is a shell game. It’s all vapor and blue sky, but they don’t care.

    What makes them the happiest about the whole scheme is that it’s a taxation-style punishment for collective efforts to profit from providing goods and services people want (read: corporations).

    If corporations hurt, they’re happy. And if corporations that buy and sell carbon credits get hurt, they’ll like that, too.

  31. Anthony June 19, 2007 at 12:45 pm #

    Schiller, at what point will you realise you don’t speak for the rest of the world, in particular ‘the greens’ and that all your mumbo jumbo is some whack projection of your imagination?

  32. Schiller Thurkettle June 19, 2007 at 12:57 pm #


    I’ll realize what you suggest at the very moment when you present a plausible alternative explanation for the behavior of people who must otherwise be described as psychotic.

    The principle of charity requires that we must first consider that people have a rational motivation that makes sense to more people than merely themselves.

    Being “anti-corporate by any means” is the only rational explanation for people who persistently make claims which are opposed to human welfare and flatly contradicted by commonly-known facts.

    They may be emotionally frozen in an adolescent antipathy toward authority figures, but that’s not psychotic–just sad.

  33. Anthony June 19, 2007 at 2:33 pm #

    there you go again… projecting away…

    please specify
    1 – a person who you consider a ‘greenie’ – just for context
    2- actions that have made them psychotic

    all these sweeping generalations and stabbing in the dark is just building the anticipation…

  34. Aaron Edmonds June 19, 2007 at 10:29 pm #

    I can help there Anthony. The actions of the anti nuclear movement (read greenies) in the 80s has perpetuated a world economy humming on natural gas … apparently its a non renewable resource. Europe is finding out the hard way from Russia just how much of a problem that is. And you haven’t seen anything yet!

    The anti GM movement (read greenies) have stifled adoption of this technology and as an indirect result of this you are now seeing hyperinflation in food commodities. Better off fed than dead I’d say. You can’t even find an agricultural biotechnology company listed on the ASX which is kind of strange when you consider the important role plant breeders will have in a food insecure and weather risky future.

    Hardly rational behaviour on the behalf of the ‘green movement’…

  35. Schiller Thurkettle June 20, 2007 at 9:34 am #


    Another thing you have to understand about the greens is that they’re essentially anti-human. I.e., anything humans have done since the stone age must simply be described as environmental devastation.

    The high priests of the greenies describe us humans as a ‘virus on the planet’ and so forth. They insist that peaceful coexistence between humans and their environment cannot be achieved by any means–although some have suggested that extermination of ~80 percent of the human race might be acceptable.

    Failing the draconian measures that include genocide (as demonstrated in Africa), it would at least require Environmental Social Governance (ESG).

  36. Anthony June 20, 2007 at 12:04 pm #

    Schiller, plenty of so called ‘greenies’ are very much in favour of wind farms (for electricity), solar electricity, geothermal electricity, harnessing wave energy. These things came after the stone age?

    They are also against genocide, particularly when it is committed by war mongers. Forgive me for my child like innocence as opposed to your worldly understanding of things….

    what do you consider yourself Schiller? If I were to box you up and place you, what generalisations could I make about you? Paranoid, delusional right winger? Would that fit?

    Aaron, I think the cause of dependance on natural gas is just a teeny bit more complex than anti-nuclear greenies, don’t you think? And food inflation? Again, something tells me you have analysed the variable (i.e. your myopic obsession with hating ‘greenies’) and come to the logical conclusion…. must have been the greenies.

  37. Aaron Edmonds June 20, 2007 at 8:10 pm #

    Anthony the latest 1500mW plant going up in Finland is the first nuclear plant to be built in Europe in decades. And you won’t find a nuclear power plant in the US under 30 years of age. I’d say the anti nuclear movement is responsible for a great deal of the natural gas depletion that has occurred. I don’t hate greenies … just cannot tolerate irrational ones. I’m a greeny myself – WWF Governor, and yes I have some contradictory views to my peers at the WWF.

  38. Anthony June 20, 2007 at 9:08 pm #

    Aaron, why would a rational person decide nulcear is a good option and why should reason guide our decision making on this?

  39. Aaron Edmonds June 21, 2007 at 10:25 am #

    A little story for you Tony … When Russia shut off the gas to the Ukraine a year or so back, the Ukraine immediately shut off the gas spur lines to Italy. Italy was plunged into darkness and coldness (because it was winter) and had this situation not been addressed by surplus baseload capacity coming out of the robust French nuclear grid, I’d suggest the streets of Italy may have become full of ‘people deciding nuclear power is rational’. There is a fine line between civilization and anarchy, you just can’t see it … yet.

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