PUBLISHED ON CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR AND INTER PRESS SERVICE
Europe’s carbon trading system was supposed to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. But at least one of its methods for doing so may actually have increased those emissions.
The scheme was dubious enough that the European Union (EU) banned it as part of the trading system, effective May 2013.
But some of the world’s largest energy and chemical companies, far from distancing themselves from the program, continue to use it to offset their emissions – or at least leave open the option of using it until the ban goes into effect.
It’s a sign that when it comes to reducing greenhouse gases in the EU, protecting one’s reputation as an environmentally responsible company doesn’t seem to matter as much as saving money.
In this case, the savings are quite small by corporate standards. By one estimate, those savings amount to $24 million, pocket change compared with the combined $53 billion in profits earned last year by Dow Chemical, ConocoPhillips, and Chevron in the United States, BP in Britain, and Statoil in Norway – all of whom have relied heavily on the questionable scheme to offset their emissions.
“Companies will look to comply with EU emissions regulations in the most cost-efficient way,” says Richard Chatterton, a London-based carbon market analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance, a news and analysis service. “Although market participants are free to hold a view on the ethics of action on climate change, the EU [system] is driven by economics.”