The increasingly politicized debate over climate change promises to heat up further with the publication of an exhaustively-documented but highly-readable new book, “Carbon Trading: A Critical Conversation on Climate Change, Privatisation and Power”. The book argues that the dominant “carbon trading” approach to climate change is both ineffective and unjust.

Carbon trading is the centrepiece of the Kyoto Protocol and other schemes for tackling climate change, but is prolonging the world’s dependence on oil, coal and gas and therefore slowing down the social and technological change needed to cope with the problem.

Carbon trading has two parts. First, governments hand out free tradable rights to emit carbon dioxide to big industrial polluters. Second, companies buy additional pollution credits from projects in the South that claim to emit less greenhouse gas than they would have without the carbon market investment.

Carbon trading “dispossesses ordinary people in the South of their lands and futures without resulting in appreciable progress toward alternative energy systems,” says the book’s editor, Larry Lohmann of The Corner House. “Tradable rights to pollute are handed out to Northern industry, allowing them to continue to profit from business as usual. At the same time, Northern polluters are encouraged to invest in supposedly carbon-saving projects in the South, very few of which are actually helping to halt dependence on fossil fuels.”

Download the book here.