Carbon Markets Draft at COP26 Prompts Warning From Activists
(Bloomberg) -- A new proposal on international carbon markets released at the COP26 climate summit triggered warnings from environmental activists that bad design choices during these final stages of negotiations could lead to greenwashing instead of cleaner air.
While countries made some progress on technical provisions of emissions trading in the draft published Friday, most key issues remain unresolved after almost two weeks of talks. Getting a deal on rules for a global market, allowed under Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, would be a major success since negotiators have been working on it since 2015.
The ambition is that a robust accord on trading can help lower emissions, funnel cash to poor countries and boost investment in clean energy technology. But as countries disagree on key issues such as emissions accounting rules, the threat is that a weak deal would enshrine rules so loose they could end up allowing for pollution to rise rather than fall.
“We’re calling on the negotiators to stand firm against greenwash scams,” said Louisa Casson, a climate campaigner for Greenpeace U.K. “We cannot leave Glasgow with an Article 6 agreement that will blow the 1.5 degrees Celsius limit.”
Talks on carbon trading collapsed at the previous summit in Madrid in 2019, with Brazil and the European Union at odds over how to avoid the double counting of emissions reductions by countries and companies. That could happen when both the investors in offsetting projects abroad and the countries hosting them claim credits for cutting pollution.
Brazil signaled readiness for a compromise Thursday, siding with the U.S. and Japan on a proposal that would still enable double-counting for private companies. But it didn’t win widespread support.
The draft published Friday offered a new solution: creating two types of carbon offsets for use by governments and businesses. One could be used to meet emissions reduction targets, while the other couldn’t, lowering the potential for double counting.
“Whoever buys such units would be supporting the host country in meeting its target and not exporting those emissions out of the country,” said Gilles Dufrasne, policy officer for the Carbon Market Watch nongovernmental organization.
Other obstacles have emerged at the summit in Glasgow, Scotland. Disagreements remain on how big a share of revenues from bilateral emissions trading should be funneled toward climate-vulnerable countries, and whether to allow the use of old carbon credits in the new market.
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