The carbon emission trading system allows the purchase of inexpensive exemptions on UN or governmental regulations regarding CO2. Furthermore, it sells and grants permits to anybody who claims their CO2 pollution has been ‘neutralised’. These exemptions and permits have been put forward by corporations and States which assume responsibility and run the ‘cleaning’ capabilities of the land or which invest in capitalist activities certified as ‘less destructive’. Power plants in Europe, for example, can continue polluting air with CO2 as long as they purchase these permits which not only determine they are colonising the photosynthetic capacity of Latin American, African or Asian forests but also affirm they are releasing less methane than the normal quantity.
Being the key official response to climate change nowadays, carbon markets, growing since their origin in the 1990s, follow the American models of environmental consulting service markets of the 1970s-1990s. As neoliberal schemes, these would allow firms to save money considering that they were not in compliance with US environmental legislations, in force from the years 1960 and 1970.
To some extent, environmental capitalism is based on carbon markets, endorsed by the main firms in the fields of mining, oil, mass production of goods, digital technologies, aviation and maritime transport as well as Wall Street and renowned Washinton NGOs such as Environmental Defense Fund and The Nature Conservancy. All UN agencies and the World Bank, governments around the world and thousands of university researchers approve of carbon markets.
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