Protesters Scale Climate Exchange In London

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Demonstrators from the Climate Camp in London staged a protest at the Climate Exchange, where carbon credits will be traded under the UK government’s much-criticised cap-and-trade scheme

Protesters from the London Climate Camp climbed the building in the city of London where carbon credits are traded, protesting what they describe as a “false solution” to global warming.

The protesters, who used technology heavily to set up their camp on Blackheath yesterday, began a week’s direct action with an assault on the European Climate Exchange in London’s Bishopsgate, the site where carbon credits are exchanged as financial commodities.

Protesters climbed the building, unfurling a banner saying that the carbon credit scheme is a “false solution” to global warming, while others staged a “climate casino” by the building’s entrance, allowing staff in and out, but claiming that the scheme merely makes money for companies while doing nothing for the planet.

“I think a lot of people inside here believe they’re doing something good for the environment, but our message is that they’re not,” a spokesperson told the Guardian. she said. “Too many governments are using carbon trading as an excuse not to cut emissions. People are making a lot of money on this, but nothing is really being done.”

Carbon trading, also known as “cap and trade” gives existing companies a credit which is a “licence to pollute”, which can be traded with other companies. This gives an incentive to pollute less, it is argued.

However, the scheme has has received much criticism from highly-respected environmentalists, and the details of the accounting required to get companies into the scheme are being hotly argued in the UK at present.

BT has warned that the UK cap and trade scheme will make its wind farm plans uneconomic, and other companies have joined the continuing argument.

Meanwhile, environmentalists and business leaders have lined up to criticise carbon trading, in fora such as Carbon Trade Watch. Scientist James Lovelock, whose Gaia hypothesis sees the planet as a living organism, has called cap and trade a “scam”, former minister Michael Meacher has warned it will be distorted by business pressures, BP’s former chief executive Lord Browne has criticised it, and Vincent de Rivaz, chief executive of the EDF Energy UK compared it to the disastrous market in sub-prime mortgages whose failure kicked off the recession.

Critics also now include Thomas Crocker, who invented the concept as a graduate student in the 1960s and is now a retired professor of economics. He is now “sceptical” about large-scale cap and trade schemes, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.

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The Climate Exchange spoke to eWEEK, but did not make any statements about the protest, pointing out that it operates as a strictly financial institution, handling tradeable commodities defined elsewhere.

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