Tehelka Magazine, Vol 8, Issue 23, Dated 11 June 2011
CULTURE & SOCIETY
The great carbon bazaar
Avalok Langer & Yamini Deenadayalan
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Illustrations: Samia Singh
By the late 1990s, the idea of global warming had become real. For the developed world, however, emission reduction at the cost of industry-driven growth was a tough pill. Its ‘Zen’ moment finally came in 1997 in Japan with the Kyoto Protocol signed under the United Nations Framework Convention for Climate Change (UNFCCC). All the signatories agreed to reduce their annual greenhouse gas emissions by a pre-determined amount from 2008-12. It was handshakes all around as 37 countries and the European Union created carbon credits. Through this system, developed nations could claim emission reduction by bringing down emissions in developing countries like India instead of their own. This led to the creation of a new and Byzantine market essentially trading in the transportation of guilt. India is only second to China in the carbon credits market and will have a potential market value of $3.6 billion by 2012. However, as industries scramble for financial incentives, strange little soap operas and games of ecological blackmail play out on the ground. Welcome to the bazaar.