Al Gore does Joburg, still huckstering carbon markets

By Patrick Bond

I had a look at the 450 or so slides that were used in the Climate Reality Project event for hundreds of activists in Joburg earlier this month, graced by Al Gore himself.

Most of the slides were very helpful, the solar advocacy material is impressive, and the photographs and maps are beautiful.

However, aside from the overwhelming evidence of greenhouse gas pollution alongside a curious unwillingness to identify the polluters (or to talk about climate debt), there are 6 policy slides from very near the end that were terribly confusing, did those of you who went notice? I just extracted those and attached them in the attached.

What worried me was the mixing up of good strategies with bad. Here’s a good strategy: stop new coal-fired power plants. Tactics varied but the actual accomplishments were formidable, namely, all the little red x’s here where community activists (and their allied lawyers, mainly from the Sierra Club), vetoed all these:

This is great, yet it’s followed by several slides promoting not this sort of bottom-up command and control strategy, but instead, a top-down market, specifically the ridiculous cap-and-trade systems that emerged mainly in the EU (and also a bit in North America and now perhaps in China).

Those of you who went, did Gore say anything at critical about the EU scheme, its apparently systematic corruption (fake permits, VAT fraud, giveaway allowances, oversupply, bogus offsets, etc) and about the more general problems with carbon trading? Have a look here – – if you worry that turning over the climate crisis to the financial markets may not be the brightest idea. Or if you simply worry that the EU Emissions Trading Scheme isn’t a reliable way to price carbon:

In 2013 the price fell to below 4 euros/tonne for Certified Emissions Reduction credits.

My guess is that Gore would have been hesitant to address such flaws. He was singularly responsible for introducing cap and trade into the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, in exchange for which he promised to get the US to sign. Washington never did…

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