In the wake of cap and trade passing the House last Friday, we’ve made the cover story for our August issue, “The Green-Industrial Complex,” available online. Brendan O’Neill reveals how “green” carbon legislation privileges big business at the expense of small businesses and nonprofits — and of course, the taxpayer. Here’s a taste:
Under the plan first proposed in the Kyoto Protocol of 1997 and introduced in Europe in the early and mid-2000s, the European Union and UN allocate to industry legal titles to emit a certain amount of CO2. Because the titles are transferable, and because large numbers were allocated to large corporations when the licenses were first introduced, there arose a market in carbon-trading. Powerful businesses were able to sell their CO2 permits to smaller companies that needed to emit a certain amount of CO2. This created the bizarre, but apparently environmentalist, situation in which major corporations with extra CO2 titles were able to charge smaller organizations for the “right” to emit carbon.
In the UK, the University of Manchester, like so many other educational institutions, public buildings, and small businesses, had to pay up. It forked over £92,500 for CO2 permits-and when the carbon-trading market hit the recession and the value of CO2 permits fell, the university would be doing well, said one report, “if it managed to get £1,000 for the lot of them.” The Green-Industrial Complex’s transformation of CO2 into a tradeable commodity actually empowered large corporations and led to new forms of risky speculation.