Experts discuss the effectiveness of carbon reduction plans
(5 November 2007)
Experts from across Britain and Germany meet later this week (Wednesday) at Durham University to discuss whether carbon-trading can help cut greenhouse gas emissions.
Markets such as the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) are the currently favoured policy tool for slowing global-warming. Durham University’s Institute of Advanced Study (IAS) is hosting a workshop to look at the extent at which such carbon-emission markets are effective. MPs recently questioned whether the EU ETS is actually helping reduce the UK’s carbon emissions and asked the government to provide evidence of a reduction. Phase I of the EU ETS implemented in January 2005 will be followed by the Phase II part of the scheme scheduled to begin in 2008, both of which require member states to set a cap on the amount of carbon they emit. At the IAS workshop on 7 November 2007, speakers will look at various aspects relating to the EU ETS. This includes Professor Michel Callon’s consideration of the academic lessons to be learned from the study of carbon markets and Mr Marcel Braun’s historical look at the complex path by which Europe moved from initial opposition to carbon markets to embracing them. Professor Callon is one of the world’s leading economic sociologists and Mr Braun is a researcher at Germany’s Wuppertal Institute. Larry Lohmann of the NGO ‘The Corner House’, who is set to speak at the workshop, said: “Carbon markets are getting in the way of solutions to the climate crisis.” He argues that carbon markets are characterized by ‘rent-seeking’ and ‘horse-trading’ that enable those involved delay emissions cuts indefinitely. Fellow speaker Professor Donald MacKenzie of the University of Edinburgh agrees that existing markets have deficiencies but argues that these arise in part because the political forces seeking to improve carbon markets have been too weak so far. Professor Anita Engels of the University of Hamburg will reveal the results of the first academic survey of participants in the European Union’s Emissions Trading Scheme. Professor Engels said: “The EU ETS Phase I was probably not able to create additional emission reductions, but its real value is in the learning experience and in the institutional capacity building - the preparation for the "real" carbon market starting in 2008.”