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Publication Details

Reference
Bond, Patrick  (2008) The MEC, carbon trading and climate change
UKZN Minerals-Energy-Complex workshop  : 1-53.

Summary
Addressing climate change through carbon trading is irrational and fundamentally unjust, and environmental reformers committed to the Kyoto Protocol process are, as a result, doing more harm than good by installing a system of emissions reductions prone to structural corruption, which at the same time blocks genuine climate protection strategies. Such strategies would only arise if the very logic of the economic structure and dynamic of accumulation, locally and globally, could be thrown open for debate. However, the case of Coega shows how South Africa remains hostage to the Minerals-Energy Complex. The additional 3% stress on an overstretched electricity grid, for the sake of a major aluminium smelter, will provide several hundred jobs. But profits will be exported, and the use of the coal-generated electricity is dubious. In this context, Coega as a potential Clean Development Mechanism project shows the carbon market’s failure. Indeed, a post-Kyoto coalition of global forces should now be built, with an alternative strategic orientation - following the Ecuadoran government’s lead - of non-renewable resource preservation for the sake of the climate as well as victims of the resource curse: ‘keep the oil in the soil’, leave the fossil fuels in the ground. A start was made to that end in Bali, in the new movement known as Climate Justice Now.

(Patrick Bond is coeditor of the book Climate Change, Carbon Trading and Civil Society: Negative Returns on South African Investments, published by Rozenberg of Amsterdam and University of KwaZulu-Natal Press, 2007 and 2008. He directs the UKZN Centre for Civil Society in Durban. Versions of this paper were published in Capitalism Nature Socialism in December 2007, and in a forthcoming book edited by Greg Ruiters for the HSRC on Eastern Cape political economy. And the analysis benefited from feedback during 2007-08 presentations in many conference and workshops.)

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