Tuesday, December 8, 2009

COP15: Equal time on World Streets
Cataloguing the Errors in "The Story of Cap and Trade"

World Streets thought it would make sense at this important juncture on the world climate stage to provide some rebuttal space for reactions to yesterday's white hot piece "The Story of Cap and Trade"' So here you have 'Cataloguing the Errors in "The Story of Cap and Trade"' as more food for thought. Bon appétit

Cataloguing the Errors in "The Story of Cap and Trade"

Posted by Eric de Place. Source: http://daily.sightline.org/daily_score/archive/2009/12/02/cataloguing-the-errors-in-the-story-of-cap-and-trade

Exactly what's wrong with the web video sensation.

There's a viral Web video making the rounds. I don't like it. (For context, read my first post on this subject: "A Story of Ignorance About Cap and Trade.") Today, I'm going to catalogue its errors.

You can find the transcript here (pdf), though just reading the transcript doesn't give you the full picture of the snark conveyed by the animated cartoons that accompany Annie Leonard's delivery in the video. Here's the video:

Now, let's take an inventory of all the errors. Get comfy, it's gonna take a while.

"Okay, meet the guys at the heart of this so-called solution. They include the guys from Enron who designed energy trading, and the Wall Street financiers like Goldman Sachs who gave us the subprime mortgage crisis."

False. For decades environmental activists, progressives, and scientists have labored against overwhelming odds to enact a cap and trade program. In no sense are "these guys" from Enron and Wall Street at the heart of the solution. They are not now and they never have been.

But I've got to hand it to her: this insult really stung. All these years that tens of thousands of folks like me have worked long hours at low pay (or no pay) to hash out a workable and effective climate policy and it turns out that our purported allies like Leonard would rather paint us as duplicitous bankers in pin-striped suits. (That's not an exaggeration, by the way: that's how the animated cartoon depicts cap and trade proponents throughout the video.)

"Their job is to develop brand new markets. They stake their claims and then when everyone and their grandmother wants in, they make off with huge amounts of money as the market becomes a giant bubble and then bursts."
Odd. Uh, what? This doesn't really have to do with cap and trade so I should probably leave it alone, but it's perplexing that this is what she thinks markets do. But I want clarification from the bien-pensants to my left: are progressives now anti-market in all circumstances? Do the recent bubbles mean that we're now supposed to be, in principle, opposed to stocks, commodities, etc? Are we supposed to hate the acid rain cap-and-trade programs too?

"...they’ve got a new idea for a market – trading carbon pollution."
False on two counts. It's not a new idea. Brokers have participated in cap and trade markets since the 1990s and in carbon markets for about a decade. There have been no instances of gaming or market manipulation.

What they trade is not carbon pollution -- sounds nasty, right? -- but a limited right (an "allowance" or "permit") to emit carbon pollution.

You get the idea. For the rest turn to http://daily.sightline.org/daily_score/archive/2009/12/02/cataloguing-the-errors-in-the-story-of-cap-and-trade

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And for the record and from their website at http://daily.sightline.org:
"About Sightline Daily: Sightline Daily offers a daily snapshot of the most important environmental, economic, and social news affecting the Northwest, combined with expert insight that helps connect the dots on issues and point to solutions. Sightline Daily is a project of Sightline Institute, the Northwest’s sustainability think tank.
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It's no contest. World Streets and the New Mobility Agenda have for more than a decade supported direct phased carbon taxes as the most efficient system for reducing carbon production in the atmosphere. We understand the problems involved with implementation, but this should not keep them from being the most favored policy to be examined. Everything else is a much watered down compromise.

But if you feel more favorably about Cap and Trade, have a look at Paul Krugman's generally positive piece on this under the heading "An affordable truth" that appears in today's New York Times at http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/07/opinion/07krugman.html?_r=1&em

Excellent Paul, but I am sure that you too prefer carbon tax as the best way to get the job done.

Eric Britton
Editor, World Streets

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