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Argument: Emissions trading involves sufficient democratic control

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Shayle Kann. "The Case for Carbon Trading". Celsias. - 2) Carbon trading represents a "privatization of Earth's carbon cycling capacity," without a democratic process to determine where to give emissions rights To some degree, this is true. Introducing mandatory carbon trading, like a cap-and-trade system, places the onus on private industry. It forces polluters to do something to reduce their impact on the planet's carbon emissions, whether it is changing their own practices or helping finance projects to do so elsewhere. It is important to note that, as Erik Carlson of carbonfund.org said on National Public Radio last week, "We need a 70 percent or so reduction in emissions. And, in fact, that's all the planet actually cares about." It doesn't matter where emissions reductions come from. One pound of CO2 in Bangladesh is one pound of CO2 in Poughkeepsie. So, given the pressing nature of the crisis, we should be reducing our emissions in the places where we can reduce them the most, with least cost to our livelihood and the planet's biodiversity. This is the ultimate goal of carbon trading; to let the market determine the most efficient ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. I think efficiency has become something of a dirty word among activists circles, and often rightly so. Historically, the quest for efficiency has led to profit maximization at the expense of social justice, environmental maintenance, and economic equality. But in this case, it is a necessary consideration. If we do not reduce greenhouse gas emissions efficiently, we will never avoid climate change-induced disaster. Government should certainly be involved, and indeed government has been the designer and controller of existing carbon markets, but markets should play a significant role as well. As to the lack of a democratic process, I'm not sure I understand this argument. The government in control of the cap-and-trade program maintains control of the overall cap, as well as the percentage of auction vs. allocation, in any cap-and-trade scheme. These two sources of power give the government the ability to fundamentally alter the way cap-and-trade systems function. No, we don't have voter referenda for every allocation, but if our elected officials design the system, is it not part of the democratic process?

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