September editorial: Seeking common ground on the climate crisis

The European Emissions Trading System covers almost half of Europe’s climate problem, but it occupies only a fraction of the public mind. We’ve teamed up with a dozen other NGOs in Europe for the Emissions Trading eXtra (ETX) project to shine a floodlight on the ETS and its future, as well as to tilt up the uneven playing field between industry and civil society. 

One ball that has been thrown in from the sidelines is that of ‘flexibilities’ in the ETS – the question of whether investment in carbon capture and storage can be a substitute for emissions allowances. Before this bad idea catches on too widely, we penetrate the smokescreen surrounding CCS. After all, our mission is to expose greenwashing or creative climate bookkeeping. Problematic climate neutrality claims are on the rise in order to dupe consumers of all kinds and keep regulators at bay.

Chinese whispers

China is one of the countries that appears to be jumping on the climate leadership train – carbon neutrality pledge by 2060, no more investment in coal-fired power plants in other countries, etc. China’s announcements and initiatives are an encouraging sign of change but warrant deeper scrutiny. We look at its recently launched carbon market and find that its focus on carbon efficiency, rather than a cap on emissions, makes it unfit for the longer run.

Debates in the Brussels bubble on the ‘Fit for 55’ package are preoccupied with the question of whether this complex cocktail of carbon pricing and regulation will hold together as the European Parliament and Council set to work on it. A determining factor here will be whether the many different stakeholders will identify commonalities and commit to common interests or get bogged down in animosity and conflict. The task which Germany’s government coalition candidates now have on their hands might set a precedent here. Greens and Liberals could easily get stuck in what divides them. Yet the optimistic Green leader, Robert Habeck, is willing to seek out the ideas which can energise all. “Hey, something new can emerge,” he exclaimed, to the amusement of some.

New beginnings have emerged out of other crises before. The experience of working through the COVID-19 pandemic has given us, like others, the courage to part from the old full-time model of working from the office and adopt a hybrid system which serves the integrality of our lives, puts faith in our commitment to collaboration, and contributes to the sustainability of our planet. We now flit between shared desks and meeting spaces at a new office and our virtual offices at home. We welcome our new communications director, Khaled Diab, into this new space. Say “Hi!” to him and keep following us!

 

Enjoy the reads,

Sabine Frank

Executive Director of Carbon Market Watch