photo by Jayesh Bheda (source: Flickr Creative Commons)

While carbon trading may serve to limit overall emissions, how does it affect local pollution? A Time Magazine article from last December explores arguments against the UN’s carbon trading scheme, known as Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) including its susceptibility to manipulation by national or local governments. It also may outsource pollution. Take this case in India:

“Since the plant has come, the village’s water supply is polluted, and the air is polluted from the dust and smoke,” says KSL Swamy, the Toranagallu representative in the state legislature. “Salaries at the plant are very good,” he says, “but the pollution is very bad. We feel it.”

–Time Magazine

If the dirtiest industries in developing countries are the ones cleaning themselves up with the help of investment from rich nations, surely that’s a good thing in itself. But the concern is that if CDM doesn’t sufficiently address the need to develop truly clean industries, then local populations – especially poor villagers – will continue to suffer from pollution that is subsidized by the developed world.

For another perspective on CDM, carbon trading and China’s position to financially take advantage, we have an article from the less than ideologically green Energy Tribune.

Does the CDM process work? If it does, there’s no evidence of it from the numbers. Between 2000 and 2007, according to the IEA, global carbon dioxide emissions jumped by 23%. Regardless of the global carbon dioxide numbers, China has been the biggest beneficiary of the CDM scheme.

–Energy Tribune

Of course it’s hard to gauge what those numbers might have been had no CDM or carbon market in place during the last decade of China’s rapid industrial development. Every cloud has a silver lining, eh?

Additional resources:

Carbon trading simply explained