World Bank Carbon Plan ‘A Protection Racket’

OneWorld UK

Carbon credits are a key component of national and international emissions trading schemes that have been implemented to mitigate global warming. They provide a way to reduce greenhouse effect emissions on an industrial scale by capping total annual emissions and letting the market assign a monetary value to any shortfall through trading. Credits can be exchanged between businesses or bought and sold in international markets at the prevailing market price. Credits can be used to finance carbon reduction schemes between trading partners and around the world.

A World Bank-backed carbon-reduction programme in which concessional loans would be offered to developing country governments was compared to a “protection racket” by Friends of the Earth director Tony Juniper at a meeting in London at the weekend.

He said it would be like smashing the windows of a car and then demanding money to stop further damage.

“A deep injustice in the development model is being put together,” he said of the plan.

Speaking at a meeting called to discuss the human rights implications of climate change, Juniper said global warming was still seen largely as an environmental issue: “Some development groups are on board,” he commented, “but human rights groups aren’t there yet. They need to accommodate climate change in their work.”

He also pointed to a tension between advocates of carbon-curbon action at any cost, using any technology available, and those who wanted action based on equity and justice.

Arvind Ganesan of Human Rights Watch agreed that the human rights movement had not done enough to integrate environmental issues into its work. This was because traditionally the movement focussed on the jailing, torturing or killing of individuals rather than why such abuses were occurring.

Increasingly, however, that approach wasn’t useful. For example, in disputes and conflicts with the oil industry, as in Nigeria’s Niger Delta region, it was necessary to look at the underlying issues and not just at threats to protesters.

He cited the case of Angola, where the question was not so much whether an individual had siphoned off oil revenues but how could the government steal more than $4.2 billion of oil revenues in four years during which time all social indicators – such as education and health – had fallen. The rip-off occurred, essentially, because there was no scrutiny of government, by media or other groups.

Ganesan pointed to the danger of governments and groups using climate change as a way of getting richer. The impact of biofuels on worldwide food prices had been raised, for example – but less noticed was that in Indonesia the military had a huge stake in palm oil production. It also had a persistent history of human rights violations and corruption. So a shift to biofuels might entrench the power of a corrupt producer, the Indonesian military.

Similarly, Colombian militias had been coercing people to give up land so that they could start biofuel production.

He said it would be like smashing the windows of a car and then demanding money to stop further damage.

“A deep injustice in the development model is being put together,” he said of the plan.

Speaking at a meeting called to discuss the human rights implications of climate change, Juniper said global warming was still seen largely as an environmental issue: “Some development groups are on board,” he commented, “but human rights groups aren’t there yet. They need to accommodate climate change in their work.”

He also pointed to a tension between advocates of carbon-curbon action at any cost, using any technology available, and those who wanted action based on equity and justice.

Arvind Ganesan of Human Rights Watch agreed that the human rights movement had not done enough to integrate environmental issues into its work. This was because traditionally the movement focussed on the jailing, torturing or killing of individuals rather than why such abuses were occurring.

Increasingly, however, that approach wasn’t useful. For example, in disputes and conflicts with the oil industry, as in Nigeria’s Niger Delta region, it was necessary to look at the underlying issues and not just at threats to protesters.

He cited the case of Angola, where the question was not so much whether an individual had siphoned off oil revenues but how could the government steal more than $4.2 billion of oil revenues in four years during which time all social indicators – such as education and health – had fallen. The rip-off occurred, essentially, because there was no scrutiny of government, by media or other groups.

Ganesan pointed to the danger of governments and groups using climate change as a way of getting richer. The impact of biofuels on worldwide food prices had been raised, for example – but less noticed was that in Indonesia the military had a huge stake in palm oil production. It also had a persistent history of human rights violations and corruption. So a shift to biofuels might entrench the power of a corrupt producer, the Indonesian military.

Similarly, Colombian militias had been coercing people to give up land so that they could start biofuel production.

Action on behalf of justice is a constitutive dimension of the preaching of the gospel.


Justice in the World – 1971 Synod of Bishops