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Carbon-Market Concept Moves to Mainstream

Wall Street Journal – May 14, 2008

I really do not like the concept of trading in carbon. I think that carbon offsets trading only reward bad processes that are extremely cheap and are a band-aid to the real problem. If it is assumed that we need to vastly reduce the carbon footprint then the buying public should be encouraged to buy energy and products that result from lower carbon emissions and discouraged from buying the carbon rich ones.

Allowing a utility that has a coal burning plant in one part of the world to offset that footprint with a geo-thermal plant in another part of the world really doesn’t solve anything. If the two plants served the same marketplace, then their energy would compete but if the two plants are separated by oceans then we really haven’t solved any problems, we have just allowed a company to financially afford a carbon-rich coal plant.

Intel says it will become largest buyer of green power in U.S.

Silicon Valley / San jose Business Journal – January 28, 2008

I am not a lover of carbon trading.  I have complained about them multiple times (read some of my comments here, here, and here).  However, I plan on discussing how companies are trying to be “green” and also how they are trying to profit from that effort – at least in the court of public opinion if not on their balance sheet. (Follow the feed link to read the rest of the story).

So it seems prudent to take a look at Intel which instead of trading carbon purchased renewable energy credits.  This is not a company that uses huge amounts of energy like a heavy manufacturer like GM or Ford.  However, they are quite large and their energy bill is likely quite considerable.

An Inconvenient Reduction

Wall Street Journal – December 3, 2007

I am not a big believer in taxes. I do think that the government needs funds to operate and therefore has the right obligation to tax its citizens for services rendered. I also understand that, just like all costs, the act of taxing can be a deterrent to activity. Taxing “sin” activity such as tobacco and alcohol is simply good policy. If it was possible to tax overly fatty food, I would probably be in favor of that as well.

Based on this logic, it make sense to tax certain activity that adds pollution to the atmosphere. I question the logic of taxing automobiles but I do think that taxes on fossil fuels make a certain amount of sense as a revenue source and an activity deterrent. (Follow the feed link to read the rest of the story).

Companies try to make going green easier

Denver Business Journal – December 7, 2007

I haven’t made any secret of my distrust of the carbon credits (or carbon trading) programs that are on the market. I have written about them often and have pointed out multiple times where they are more scam than good. While I am certain that there are some programs that have good intentions, the devil is usually in the details and the details are usually not very good.

I can’t tell if the two programs in this article are good or bad.  They don’t give enough details in the article but I am suspicious.  While the companies that ShipGreen and AllState are donating to appear to be above board, they simply are not sharing enough information to tell if the money is doing any good.  I am reminded that BusinessWeek did an article on this type of effort only to find that little of the offset money did any good.

Little Green Lies

BusinessWeek – October 29, 2007

BusinessWeek must be one of the most venerable periodicals in the business community. Few magazines can acclaim to the level and depth of business discussion. Most CEOs and business leaders read or at least skim the magazine on a regular basis.

As their cover story, BW decided to cover the idea that "going green" was a good thing for business.  I have discussed this issue before and it was good to get BW’s opinion and coverage on the story.  Their perspective is quite interesting.

In China, a Plan to Turn Rice Into Carbon Credits

Wall Street Journal – October 9, 2007

I am not a fan of carbon trading programs or carbon credits as most readers know. However, I do like programs that promise to reduce the use of our valuable resources.

This idea sounds promising as it will decrease the amount of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere (did you know that agriculture put out more than automobiles?) and it will conserve resources.

…to sell farmers a genetically engineered rice seed. He says the seed, still in development, will cut their need for nitrogen fertilizer, which is among their biggest costs — and a huge source of greenhouse gases. He then aims to sell the resulting carbon credits on a growing global exchange.

Dell Inc. Plans to Become ‘Carbon Neutral’ by 2008

Wall Street Journal – September 27, 2007

This was a short article in the Wall Street Journal which is good because it has little news worthiness and, in my opinion, is more PR than good environmentalism.

First of all, CO2 waste is not a huge factor in the assembly  and marketing of computers which is what Dell does. It is relatively easy for these companies to reduce their CO2 use and even if they didn’t, they really aren’t affecting the carbon dioxide atmospheric content much.  So this is a big "so what" especially when you take into account the next few items.

Climate shift is biggest security risk: Australia

Reuters – September 25, 2007

This is an interesting analysis and brings on many dark fears. The thought that changing climate will lead to reasons (excuses) for countries to declare war is quite concerning. There is no doubt that this is at least partially true. When a country has a disgruntled population there really are only two options: fail as a government or take significant steps to change the situation.

Of equal concern is that in the process of suffering, individuals will take it upon themselves to move to another area of the world where the suffering is not as tremendous. This will lead to other problems that can occur whenever there is a mass exodus.

Can you buy a greener conscience?

Los Angeles Times – September 2, 2007

P.T. Barnum supposedly said that there was a sucker born every minute. Sometimes, when I read about carbon credits, I am not sure who the sucker is – the person buying, the person selling, or the general public for thinking it is helping!

I really don’t like carbon credit schemes.  I have written about them multiple times and most of what I read simply doesn’t make sense and is closer to scam than it is to solution.

In order for credits to be feasible and to be more than a “feel good” gesture, we need solid accounting, accountability, and penalties. We have none of that now and this article makes this painfully clear. We cannot allow credits to be used for minor contributions to a project. The credit must go to the cost of reducing the greenhouse gas. 

How Carbon Trading Works

HowStuffWorks

This is a great overview article if you want to learn more about carbon trading and how it works. As frequent readers know, I am not a big proponent of these schemes because I think they are ripe for abuse and many of the “improvements” are just part of the standard process for constant economic savings. Also, as fuel prices rise, improvements become much more necessary.

It does seem likely though that some type of system is going to be implemented in the US and in other countries. So we should all learn more about these systems, their weaknesses and their strengths.