A free screening of Tom Heinemann’s excellent documentary “Carbon Crooks” will take place on 12 November in Brussels. The screening is organised by the NGOs Corporate Europe Observatory, Carbon Trade Watch, FERN and Climaxi, and will be followed by discussion.
The documentary is highly recommended. It looks in detail at fraud in the carbon markets since the Kyoto Protocol in 1997. If you’re not in Brussels, you can buy a copy here. If you are in Brussels, the screening will take place at 7 pm on 12 November 2013 in the Kamilou cafe, Mundo B, Rue d’Edimbourg 26.
Meanwhile, more interviews from the documentary are now available in English. (Others are available, but only in Danish.) Here are some highlights – click on the links for the full interviews:
Rob Wainwright, Director of Europol: “We saw in some cases – when loopholes were closed down by changing – for example – the charging mechanism for VAT – then suddenly there was a 90 % drop in the trading on those exchanges.”
“It threw a light on the true nature of this modern organized crime phenomenon, and it invited in particular a strong participation of many, many national law enforcement agencies. We formed here – under Europol coordination – a new target group to focus in particular on this new organized crime activity. Ten member states together with other countries such as Switzerland participated actively. In 2009, 2010 and 2011 we helped to support 35 major investigations in this area and some of these investigations have led to multiple arrests. In Italy alone over a hundred people were arrested during the course of 2010. In the UK and Germany we’ve had some of the first cases now coming to court with sentences to up to 15 years of imprisonment, so it’s significant criminal sentences and that in a way shows how significant this criminal activity has been, but that’s just the tip of the ice berg. There are many more cases that will come to court.”
Daniel Butler, carbon trader 2004-2011: “I worked in the financial markets for 25 years – I worked in currencies, in bonds and equities – I have never heard about anyone stealing bonds, equities and currencies from an account. It might probably have happened – but I have never seen it.
“When they started trading carbon credits and they set up this carbon trading system where you log into a computer and deliver carbon credits within minutes. I have never seen anything like that. You know it just happens so quickly, so I think it is a product of the rush and the political support that a different kind of system of transferring carbon credits was put into place. I think that they just made it too easy. Too simple.
“And with so many different weaknesses I think it was bound to happen that someone would hack into others account and steal credits.”
Connie Hedegaard, EU Commissioner for the Climate: “In Europe, we still have a carbon credit price of around €8 per tonnes of carbon. So you don’t get money to pollute. There is still a price on polluting.
“I will not put a specific price in a market-based system, but anyone can see that it should preferably be somewhat higher. Some would argue that we don’t need higher prices, because now they have reduced and that was the main objective. But there was also another purpose: It should also be an incentive to switch to a more energy efficient system with less CO2 pollution. But that incentive is not very strong when the price is low.
“Therefore, I have suggested various things that can increase the price. But I would not say that it must be up to a certain level.”
Kevin Anderson, Deputy Director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research: ““Many politicians are not fully aware of what the scientist are saying and I think that the scientific community has underplayed their message – that they now are delivering. Our numbers are very clear on were we are heading – particular in relation to the emissions but also to the temperatures and the impacts. But those numbers are really very uncomfortable. They are talking about a very dire and chaotic future.
“We feel that we cannot tell that to our policy makers – to civil society, because it is a very uncomfortable thing to hear. So we play with the words. We massage the languages and say: Oh, it’s challenging but we can do this within the current framework – so we come up with all sorts mechanisms like carbon trading, carbon taxes and so fourth to try and overcome this problem.
“But the scale of the challenge is completely different to these very small solutions that we are trying to put into this. I don’t blame the politicians alone for this. I blame all of us – the scientist, the politicians, the journalists, the civil society – and in all sectors in all countries. We are all underplaying the message.”
Marius-Cristian Frunza, Lecturer at Sorbonne and Dauphine universities, France: “In a higher perspective, hacking was very current in the financial infrastructure since the early 90’s were we had the first on-line hackers from the ex-Soviet countries entering various account moving money – because security was very low. But on the carbon market it is probably the most easy fraud – probably the easiest to imagine and to do – even easier than the VAT fraud. So we might think – that also in terms of volumes – we have much less volumes in theft than we had in the VAT-fraud.
“Because nobody thought that someone – and also the people who in the beginning designed the whole EU ETS – never thought that it could be object to a fraud.
“Yes, it was the EU Commission – but people obviously ignored the fact that theft, fraud and other things could occur. So they left it with low security, no traceability of the people and the permits. It was really not very clear, and the laws that impacted the EU ETS – system are not also very clear.”
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