Greenwash to wedge politics

Karl FitzgeraldCommentaryLeave a Comment

Steps in Aros Park 2
Creative Commons License photo credit: corvidmagic

The world of pass-the-buck hit home with Rudd’s cop out yesterday. It’s too hard for us, let’s ‘leave it to Obama to sort it out in Copenhagen’. Perhaps Obama has given the ALP a get out of jail card with the Democrat’s Waxman-Markey Bill beginning it’s long path through Congress. The US seems to be moving towards cap and dividend at worst, at best a carbon tax. That’s a long way from the unlimited importation of international Kyoto permits via the loophole ridden CPRS.

Smoke and Mirrors:

Meanwhile, the Government has thrown more compensation at big-polluting industry: more free carbon permits for the first five years, a low fixed permit price of $10 for the first year, and a 12-month delay to the entire scheme.

One of the side effects to the $10 carbon cap and the yearly delay is that is gives major emitters another year to buy carbon sinks (the carbon sequestration rights that forests enable). The $10 cap and the doubt the carbon reduction scheme raises will undermine the value of carbon sinks. Local dealings for carbon sequestration rights will put downward pressure on land prices in PNG’s forests (carbon sinks). With this doubt in mind, mining companies and the like will be hoping to fudge the true value of the massive carbon sinks in PNG, using this to wedge downwards the asking price of indigenous chiefs for their sacred forests.

This is a clear message to those tribal chiefs. DO NOT SELL YOUR LAND OUTRIGHT!

Only sell the carbon sink lease on a percentage basis. The mining company can claim the carbon credits if they pay you 25% of the value of those carbon permits, for example. The land does not need to be sold outright. Fishing, hunting and other customary rights can still be maintained.

Over time the value of these forests will dramatically increase as the speed of climate change increases. The PNG community must get a share in this resource scarcity and the resultant profits. Carbon sinks will be more valuable than oil wells in the near future. If the carbon sequestration rights are to the forest are leased, then every year that the carbon permits go up in value, the PNG crew get a share of this bounty. This can help fund the health and education that such countries need.

Back to the west, it seems that Handout Politics is the only way to get a policy passed. That is the advantage of the cap-and-dividend policy that Obama could be inching towards. The public gets a regular handout so that the future Bush Mark3 can’t easily remove climate friendly policy.

Unfortunately, it seems that not only do we have the world of lobbyocracy distorting the political process from the corporate end, but unless the public are given a handout in return, legislation gets bounced via opinion polls. Weak politics will lead to a weakened planet.

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