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Carbon Capitalism

A Marxist critique on the effectivness of carbon markets

Zeta Fernando

on 21 March 2013

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Transcript of Carbon Capitalism

Effectiveness of Carbon Markets Overview
of Carbon Markets The RECLAIM
Program Marxist
Analysis From 1994-2004:

NOx reduced by 60%
SO2 reduced by 50% Shortcomings From '94-'98, RTCs were cheap > Incentive to design cleaner, expensive technologies very low.
In 2000, RTC prices climbed to emission levels, and large power companies dried up the RTC supply > driving prices up
After restructuring, low market participation. “A thinly traded market…”. ("Overview...")
Critiqued for little enforcement of compliance The Invisible Commodity: "there is no technical solution to the problem...A technical solution may be defined as one that requires a change only in the techniques of the natural sciences, demanding little or nothing in the way of change in human values or ideas of morality" ("The Tragedy of the Commons," Garrett Hardin, Science, 162(1968):1243-1248.) “Institutionalization of carbon markets does not represent a radical transformation of capitalism, but is better understood as the most recent expression of on-going trends of ecological commodification and expropriation, driving familiar processes of uneven and crisis-prone development” (Bohm, S. et. al) A Marxist Critique Regional Clean Air Incentives Market RECLAIM Program What do you think? Pro Promote cleaner air
Reduce urban heat island effect
Treat carbon as a commodity
Make companies regulate their polluting outputs
Promote investment in cleaner technologies
Reduce dependence on fossil fuels
Promote active trading between companies Carbon Markets Goals Capitalism in Greenhouse Gas Trading CO2 Emissions Does the commodification of carbon result in cleaner environments? Texas
MMTCO2 California
MMTCO2 Source: EPA.gov/climatechange 2010 2005 1990 California
CO2 Levels 362.98 MMTCO2 391.04
MMTCO2 372.89
MMTCO2 Reducing Nitrous oxides and Sulfur Dioxides Los Angeles and South Coast area Includes over 400 polluting entities Program cap set to 4 tons of NOx or SO2 annually Within 10 years, reduced NOx by 60% and reduced SO2 by 50% United States
MMTCO2 How does California regulate
its air quality? Cleaner Technologies Greenhouse Gas Reductions Restructuring Largest power plants banned from buying RTCs. They “capped” the largest, dirtiest power plants.
Required compliance plans from each polluting entity specifying strategies to comply with NOx and SO2 allocations.
Made the act of RTC trading more timely and efficient. Selective Catalytic Reduction Control Technology
Low NOx burner technology The Western Climate Initiative Cap and Trade Low NOx burner technology Power plants


Chemical industries RECLAIM Trading Credits
(RTCs) Allocation
permits Other
methods 4 ton cap Price fluctuations Selective Catalytic Reduction Control Technology Best Available Retrofit Control Technologies RECLAIM
Flow Chart enacts sets creates RECLAIM distributes allow Trades induces incentivizes Clean Technology develop Garrett Hardin: Tragedy of the Commons Positives Negatives green technology attracts capital
on average, all consumers are expected to experience net economic savings
further investments means greater efficiency by using the right technology for the right job
$100 million in venture capital investment creates an estimated 2,700 jobs and $500 million in annual revenue for two decades the price of goods fluctuates with the level of participation by polluting entities
cost-per-unit for greenhouse gases relative to their global warming potential
"business-as-usual" benefits no one
implementation of green technology can be costly
the effects of surplus carbon
credits greenhouse gas emissions are reduced due to green technology less incentive for big businesses to participate in the market cost of carbon credits decline uneven levels of GHG emissions due to uneven participation in carbon trading Company Monopolization Sustainable Development Technological Advancements Green Economy Our thoughts: Con california Environmental Perspective Economic and Technical Perspective Environmental Economic Technical "business-as-usual" surplus carbon credits sustainable development green economy investment RECLAIM price fluctuations metabolic rift Theory of Metabolic Rift Capitalist expansion Human Labour Natural Fertility Exploiting the Environment developed by John Bellamy Foster, with foundation from Marx's Capital Vol. 1
"metabolism" - a socio-ecological relationship
capitalism creates the "rift" through exploitation of human labor which furthers ecological exploitation
this relationship hinders sustainability as it creates issues of value Marx in Capital Vol. 1 alienation fertility technology Source: EPA.gov/climatechange pollution Low Participation "All progress in capitalist agriculture is a progress in the art, not only of robbing the worker, but of robbing the soil; all progress in increasing the fertility of the soil for a given time is a progress toward ruining the more long-lasting sources of that fertility...Capitalist production, therefore, only develops the techniques and the degree of combination of the social process of production by simultaneously undermining the original sources of all wealth—the soil and the worker.” Kyla Blomquist
& Zeta Fernando
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