World Bank Carbon Trading Plan Under Fire

14 December 1998

The World Bank has delayed - pending further consultation with non-governmental and other interested organisations, a plan to control the US$150 billion annual global carbon trading market. The World Bank plan details a scheme in which the Bank would charge five per cent commission on all pollution allowance trades. A global carbon-trading scheme is called for under the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, and would establish a system by which developing countries can sell their pollution allowances to developed countries in return for cleaner combustion technology investments. The U.S.-based Institute for Policy Studies published a report sharply critical of the World Bank plan, in which it said the Bank is in clear conflict with the World Bank mandate to work toward poverty alleviation and sustainable development. The plan, the report noted, would create a situation under which the Bank would fund fossil fuel projects in developing countries and then profit off the pollution produced from those projects via its carbon trading scheme. The World Bank is the largest public funder of fossil fuel projects in the developing world -- fossil fuels are the single greatest contributor to climate change.

Japan is forging plans to enter the emerging business of carbon dioxide emissions trading. Russia reportedly figures prominently in Japanese plans. It is estimated that the Japan's per tonne cost to reduce carbon dioxide emissions domestically is US$200 versus US$20 via trading emissions credits with Russia. Environmentalist voiced concern over the Japanese plan, as it could signal merely a shift toward a low-energy policy rather than a reduction in carbon dioxide production. Japanese carbon emissions have grown by 10 percent since 1990.

"Profiting from pollution," SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, November 22, 1998; "World Bank called on energy lending policy," CNN, December 2, 1998; "Environment: Eagerly, Tokyo jumps into emissions trading," IPS, December 4, 1998.

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