Skip to Content

Carbon trading – problem or solution?

A voice from South Africa

Vanessa from South Africa talks about carbon trading

“Hi, my name’s Vanessa Black and I live in eThekwini in South Africa. I just want to say that I don’t think that carbon trading is a way for us to solve climate problems which is one of the most serious problems we face at the moment. We can’t just try to trade out way out of this. We all have to take this a lot more seriously and start thinking about how our economies are structured, how our lives are structured.

It’s not just about each individual trying to save energy alone. It’s about us all working together to live in a completely different way, where we’re not relying on goods that are sent all over the world. Where we’re not trading all over for things we could be growing in our own gardens or our backyard. It’s about the way we plan our settlements. So that we’re working and living and communicating with people around us, not completely isolated and then trading with people on the other side of the planet.”

To read more testimonies from people around the world, have a look at

Governments and corporations have been keen to find market-based solutions to the problem of reducing emissions. In fact the negotiations which resulted in the Kyoto Treaty were very much based on this idea. Nowadays a multi-billion pound industry operates on the basis of tradeable rights to pollute (’emissions credits’). Critics of this industry point out that so far it has not reduced emissions – since the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme began, emissions have continued to increase – and it acts as a smokescreen preventing real action to cut emissions. Many environmental and social justice organisations now feel that emissions trading is part of the problem rather than part of the solution.

Carbon Trade Watch

Produces reliable research and critical analysis of all aspects of emissions trading and offsetting. They particularly focus on the impacts of so-called market-based solutions on communities all over the world. They have produced a selection of reports and documentaries you can download from the site.

Dag Hammerskjold Foundation Larry Lohmann film

You can watch a film of Larry Lohmann explaining how carbon trading creates transferable rights to dump carbon, slows the social and technological change, promotes socially and ecologically destructive practices and is ineffective and unjust.


An initiative to track and scrutinise carbon sink projects. ‘The focus of SinksWatch is on tree plantation sinks projects, particularly in areas where land tenure and land use rights are in dispute. That said, to understand fully the flaws of carbon offset schemes involving tree planting we also provide analysis showing why carbon offsets generally are a dangerous distraction from the task at hand – drastically and swiftly reducing fossil fuel emissions.’

Share this page

[Bloglines] [] [Digg] [Facebook] [Furl] [Google] [Newsvine] [Reddit] [StumbleUpon] [Yahoo!] [Email]

The work on this page is licensed under a Creative Commons Licence.

While we've made every effort to ensure that the links to other websites contain reliable information, we cannot take responsibility for the content of any external site.