The Commodification of the CLimate

Xanthe Bevis xanthe_bevis at
Wed Sep 27 17:02:31 BST 2000

"The weather itself is in danger of being commodified and passed
into private ownership. So colonialism is alive and well, as integral a part
of modern commerce as it ever was"

See below for complete article about most serious issue affecting us all.

----- Original Message -----
From: Chris Keene <chris.keene at>
Climate to be privatised in November

> Climate to be privatised in November
> From: vlerner at (Viviane Lerner)
> Date: 26 Sep 2000 07:14:59 -0400
> Climate to be privatised in November
> Hurricanes in Hull in August, devastating storms in France last year,
> floods in Mozambique. Our weather is getting more extreme. This is because
> humans are increasing the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere -
> through fossil fuel use - which is trapping the sun's heat in the same way
> as a greenhouse. As a panel of several thousand scientists conclude,
> has been a discernible human influence on climate".
> The human cost of this is enormous. The Financial Times reported that
> natural and man-made disasters claimed more than 105,000 lives in 1999.
> British Red Cross states that in 1998, environmental catastrophes created
> million refugees, more than the number created by war. This is expected to
> increase as more carbon pours into the atmosphere.
> In an apparent attempt to address this crisis, a United Nations conference
> will take place this November in The Hague, the Dutch capital. This will
> the 6th in a series of climate change summits, attended by the usual
> of diplomats, bureaucrats, green non-governmental organisations,
> journalists, corporate lobbyists, solar capitalists and, it is hoped,
> widespread protests. Here scientists will repeat that to stabilise global
> temperatures, carbon emissions must be immediately reduced by 60-90%. In
> 1997 in Kyoto, Japan, industrialised countries agreed to a 5.2% cut by
> from a 1990 'baseline'.
> With few countries likely to meet their targets, a huge mobilisation is
> underway by a combination of the world's richest governments, fossil fuel
> corporations and even some 'green' NGO's, to turn The Hague conference
> one big trade fair to buy and sell stakes in the planet's newest market:
> carbon market.
> If unopposed, this would be the privatisation - the exclusive ownership to
> generate private profit - of our climate. A massive ecological problem is
> being transformed into a new source of capital under cover of concern for
> the planet. It is crucial that we scrape away this thick layer of public
> relations. These mechanisms will deny climate justice to the world's
> population and pay mere lip service to meaningful carbon reductions.
> Crystallising the outrage many feel at putting a price on - and presuming
> ownership of - the collective commons that is our climate could well be
> last chance we get to achieve fairness and sustainability.
> The proposed carbon market consists of three components. Firstly, carbon
> trading between nations. Those countries that emit less than their quota
> carbon can sell the notionally 'saved' carbon to another country. The
> rational, yet insane, response is for all countries to negotiate small
> reductions in emissions. Then low-emitting countries can sell lots of
> 'saved' carbon, and high-emitting countries overshoot their targets by
> small amounts and have to purchase less 'saved' carbon from the market.
> So-called clean development mechanisms are the second part of the plan.
> idea is that rich countries pay to reduce carbon emissions in poorer
> countries by developing solar power or highly contentious dam projects.
> Again the powerful countries will carry on as before.
> The final component of carbon trading is the concept of 'carbon sinks'.
> is a clever conceit exploiting the fact that growing plants and soils
> carbon dioxide. At its simplest it is 'conserve forests' and 'plant
> The problem is that exhuming carbon stored over millions of years by
> fossil fuels and attempting to store millions of years worth of carbon in
> overripe woodlands cannot work for long.
> The clever spin-off for those that dreamt this up is that the well-off can
> pollute on the condition that they seize and control forever vast tracts
> land needed for all these trees. Ironically, the community evicted today
> a company drilling oil to feed cars and planes may find itself displaced
> again tomorrow Ð by tree plantations intended by the drivers of those cars
> to compensate for the burning of that oil.
> Very much like our DNA and the genetic make-up of plants and animals all
> around us, the weather itself is in danger of being commodified and passed
> into private ownership. So colonialism is alive and well, as integral a
> of modern commerce as it ever was. The UN plays a key role here, using
> peoples' perception of its fairness and concern for humanity as a cloak to
> smuggle in the changes.
> For a century and a half, industrial societies have been moving carbon
> underground reserves of coal and oil into the air. At least six billion
> tonnes are being added every year, a transfer that can't go on
> Some 4,000 billion tonnes of carbon in fossil fuels await recovery in the
> ground. To carry on is suicidal.
> A livable planet with less dangerous weather where people have common
> ownership over common heritage such as our climate, is incompatible with
> endless growth. However, climate change is merely a specific case of a
> general problem: as the size of the economy becomes increasingly large
> compared to the size of the planet's recycling systems, fundamental
> environmental problems will emerge. Growth in that direction cannot
> without increasing the probability of catastrophe.
> To reduce carbon emissions by 90% requires some sort of fast far-reaching
> transformation of society - a revolution no less - or environmental
> may well deliver a transformation so extreme that humankind simply
> make it. Yet a future of climate justice could be in our hands, and it's
> going to take more than boiling less water in your kettle to get there!
> On November 11th there will be a preparation day for those going to The
> Hague summit (Nov. 13-24). Contact info at for details, or
> to 16b Cherwell St, Oxford OX4 1BG.
> Grassroots protests and a counter-summit taking place in The Hague are
> co-ordinated by Risingtide:
> CIA Office
> Overtoom 301,
> 1054 HW Amsterdam
> The Netherlands
> Email: climate at
> --
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