Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Kyoto Protocol: Oppressing People, Enriching Banks

Question: What does an Indian industrial city, a Chicago economist/Time Magazine “Hero of the Planet,” a little girl born without an elbow joint, a British chemical company, a French energy company, Maurice Strong, poisonous water, and the United Nations have in common?

Answer: They have all been touched by the Kyoto Protocol.

The city is Gujarat, India, where the water has been so polluted by the UN-accredited “clean” Gujarat Fluorochemicals (GFC) factory that it smells like paint-thinner, so poisoned that the local farmers’ crops won’t grow with it, and so dangerous that children suffer birth defects such as missing elbow joints. The French energy company is Electricite de France and its energy trading arm, EDF Trading; the British chemical company is Ineos Flour, makers of fluorine-based products; and the Chicago economist/2002 Time Magazine “Hero of the Planet” is Dr. Richard Sandor, the creator, major shareholder and chairman of Climate Exchange PLC. What brings them all together is the United Nation’s Kyoto Protocol.

In order to appreciate the story soon to unfold, a basic understanding of the
Kyoto Protocol is absolutely necessary. The Kyoto Protocol is an international treaty produced by the United Nations: its complete name is the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The UN group which produced the final (or “Kyoto”) version of the treaty was the Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and this final version was adopted in Kyoto, Japan in December 1997. The treaty came into force in February 2005, after receiving an adequate number of ratifications, and while at least 184 nations have committed to the pact, the United States has not ratified it.

Because it is the official position of the UN and its scientific analysis arm, the
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), ever since the IPCC’s First Assessment Report in 1990 that certain human activity releases climate-changing gases (greenhouse gases) that cause global warming, the Kyoto Protocol mandates the reduction of these gases as the only way to stop anthropogenic (human-induced) global warming. The treaty identifies and restricts six “greenhouse gases” (GHG): HFC’s, PFC’s, sulfur hexafluoride, nitrous oxide, methane, and most critically, carbon dioxide (CO2). The restriction is accomplished through limiting (capping) the allowed total emissions of these GHG on a country-by-country basis, and so the terms of the treaty are not uniform for all nations.

Participating nations are divided into three groups: Annex I (industrialized, developed), Annex II (industrialized), and non-Annex I or developing/undeveloped countries. Non-Annex I, developing nations, which includes China and India, have no obligation to reduce emissions; nor do undeveloped nations. Conversely, Annex I nations must commit to a binding reduction of 5.2% from their 1990 emissions levels. Lastly, Annex II countries, which includes the richest nations and would include the US if ratified, are required to both reduce their own emissions and to assist developing nations in reducing emission through funding and technology transfer.

Some emitters cannot reduce emissions as quickly or easily as others, so the Kyoto Protocol creates a marketplace and emissions credits to satisfy the requirements. Simply put, emitters have three choices to meet the reductions:
1.) Emitter A reduces its own emissions and stays within its government allowance, or;
2.) Emitter A buys credits from Emitter B, which has extra allowances from having reduced its emissions, or;
3.) Emitter A buys either privately-owned, unused government “allowances” (called European Union Allowances, of
EUAs), or buys privately-owned “certified emissions reduction credits,” or CERs, through the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS).

This is where the horrible story of Gujarat, India begins. As part of the Kyoto Protocol, the United Nation created the
Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) in order to create emissions credits—or more exactly, to create Certified Emissions Reduction credits (CER)—through the funding of authorized projects. Emissions credits can only be created by the national authority (called an “allowance”) or by the United Nations through the CDM (called CERs). The plan works as follows: Annex I or II emitters can fund “clean” projects in developing nations that “reduce” emissions that would have otherwise been created, and in return, they receive CERs which they can use to stay within their cap, save for later use, or trade on the market. According to the UN:

The CDM allows emission-reduction (or emission removal) projects in developing countries to earn certified emission reduction (CER) credits, each equivalent to one tonne of CO2. These CERs can be traded and sold, and used by industrialized countries to a meet a part of their emission reduction targets under the Kyoto Protocol.”

In practice this means that a corporation in an Annex I/II country which is required to reduce its emissions can fund a “clean” project in a distant developing country and receive the certified emissions reductions credits (CERs) to use to meet its own domestic obligations back home—without actually changing its emissions level locally. Thus, the CDM has become outrageously popular to Annex I/II corporations: the cost for cleaning up operations locally, for example, in England, far surpasses the costs of simply funding an operation in the third world, and claiming the resultant credits to cover domestic obligations. Indeed, often these CDM projects produce so many CERs (or actually the UN creates so many CERs) that the funders can not only cover their “reductions” but also sell excess CERs on the market or keep them as “assets” for their own trading arms. This is especially popular for Annex I/II chemical companies, which face high costs to clean up at home, and it is exactly what attracted
Ineos Flour to Gujarat.

The project in Gujarat was “certified” by the UN as an eligible CDM on the grounds that it would reduce the emission of HFC gases. It involved the use of thermal oxidation to reduce the emission of HFC 23 (a restricted GHG) at the
Gujarat Fluorochemicals Limited fluorine/refrigerant chemical plant. Gujarat Fluorochemicals is one of several chemical companies owned by the huge Indian investment firm and securities trader, Inox Leasing and Finance. As Indian companies, Inox and their Gujarat Fluorochemicals company are not required to reduce GHG emission under the Kyoto Protocol—but as an investment and trading firm, Inox fully knew that the market value of CERs created by the project, which they could sell to those who did have to reduce emissions. Also, Inox surely considered the opportunity to have the project itself financed by Annex I/II emitters, who are eager to do so in order to gain access to the CERs. The prospect offered a significant financial return with practically no risk, as the market—thanks to the Kyoto Protocol—had by then become mandatory. Inox/Gujarat Fluorochemicals submitted the project to the UN in 2005 as the very first Kyoto Protocol CDM. The UN called it Project 0001.

Project 0001 was approved enthusiastically by the UN’s CDM committee at the UNFCCC in 2005, and the UN determined that the project would reduce annual CO2 emission by 3,000,000 tonnes. As each CER unit is equivalent to one metric tonne of CO2, the project stood to net Inox 3 million CERs per year. Through the CDM, two Annex II parties also funded the project with Inox in order to claim an entitlement to some of those 3 million CERs. As
this UN authorization document shows, the two investor parties were the French energy company Electricite de France (through its energy trading arm EDF Trading), and the British fluorine company Ineos Fluor. Suddenly, the local farmers of Gujarat, India found themselves stuck between two foreign corporations, a domestic investment firm/chemical company, and the United Nations. And they haven’t been given much of a voice.

The technology applied to the Gujarat Fluorochemicals plant for CDM Project 0001 equipped the plant for the use of thermal oxidation to neutralize the HFC 23 greenhouse gas. As
GFL’s official report (pg 9) explains, the process of oxidizing HFC 23 results in the production of harmless oxygen, carbon dioxide, and water vapor which are released into the air, and hazardous hydrogen fluoride and hydrogen chloride. The latter dangerous substances must be cooled by direct contact with water, which then creates a toxic solution of hydrogen fluoride and hydrochloric acid. This poisonous solution must them be scrubbed, treated, and evaporated in a careful process to prevent contamination of the ground water, and absolutely must not be simply pumped into the local supply. While GFL claims that this is exactly what they do, a recent expose by Nadene Ghouri published in the Daily Mail details exactly how they do not take such care, and have not in the past, either. In fact, the water surrounding the UN’s “Clean Development” project at Gujarat is so poisonous that it smells like paint thinner, and so toxic that it does not support crops. Samples contain high levels of both fluoride and chloride, making it unsafe to drink, and producing skeletal fluorosis in those exposed to it. Skeletal birth defects including a girl born without an elbow joint demonstrate exposure to the toxic chemicals as well. As the expose details, Gujarat Fluorochemicals has never been a “green” company and is not now either, despite the UN’s approval of its HFC 23 greenhouse gas project as “clean.” While the UN is awarding Inox, Ineos Fluor, and EDF their 3 million CERs a year for the anti-global warming project, the people of Gujarat are getting poisoned.

Unfortunately, the people of Gujarat are not alone. The UN’s CDM projects have a consistently disastrous local effect. The Kyoto Protocol does not attempt to curtail pollution—it attempts to restrict greenhouse gases, which the UN claims are causing global warming. Thus, by the terms of the treaty, the Gujarat project is indeed “clean,” as it is preventing HFC 23 from entering the atmosphere—but only by putting hydrochloric acid, fluoride, and chloride in the local water supply. Other CDM projects that even more significantly impact the local environments are any number of the over 1,000 hydroelectric dam projects in China, India, Brazil, Kenya, Bhutan and dozens of other nations. These hydropower projects have displaced millions of poor farmers, flooded thousands of villages, eliminated entire rivers and river valley ecosystems and indigenous habit, covered hundreds of thousands of acres of fertile farmland, forests, and rainforests, and utterly violated the human rights of millions, all in the name of "Clean Development." Actually, these atrocities are executed in the name of Clean Development Mechanisms and the valuable CERs they create.

Even before the Kyoto Protocol was fully implemented,
CDM Watch delivered a report to the UNFCCC in 2002 which forecasted the environmental destruction, financial corruption, and millions of displaced people that the large-scale hydroelectric dams and other hydropower projects encouraged by the CDM would produce, especially in China. The world’s largest hydropower dam, the Three Gorges Dam in China, created a 410 mile long reservoir out of the Yangtze River, displaced over 1.2 million people, and flooded 1200 villages; while this dam predates the CDM, the owners dream of UN approval for 100 million CER (which they are unlikely to receive). Even the much smaller Xiaoxi dam, from which the German utility RWE purchases CERs, displaced over 7,500 people, and China currently has another 898 hydropower CDM projects already under way. If these other projects averaged only 3,000 people each, the Chinese CDM dams would displace another 2,694,000 people. Myanmar is also attempting to enter the CDM market; as Burma, this nation was known for removing people at gunpoint to build hydropower projects and establish forests as “carbon sinks.” All of these nations want a piece of the new market, and they all want to produce the “new commodity”—emissions credits. And thus enters the creator of the market for this carbon commodity, Dr. Richard Sandor.

Dr. Richard Sandor, Time Magazine’s 2002 “Hero of the Planet,” and the so-called “father of financial futures,” is an economist and trader, and the creator, major shareholder, and chairman of Climate Exchange PLC. Climate Exchange PLC is an Isle of Man based financial company that owns both the voluntary Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX) and the mandatory European Climate Exchange (ECX). The ECX is the major marketplace through which the emission credits, including CERs, are traded, and operates as the major exchange for the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme. In an interview with Bloomberg earlier this year, Sandor predicted that the US would have to enter the emissions trading scheme, and stated that he believed the greenhouse gas emissions would soon be a $10 Trillion market.

It is for this reason that banks, investment firms, hedge funds, and trading arms are heavily involved and invested in the emissions market. The Kyoto Protocol is based on commoditizing emissions: besides the
mandatory emissions reductions, the treaty mandated the creation of emission credit mechanisms and required the establishment of an emissions marketplace. Commodities are priced. Sandor said it succinctly in the Bloomberg interview:

Once you price CO2 and put a price on it, you find, as you would with any other product, it tends to be rationed. We as a people on this planet have lived under the false concept that air and water were free. And we’ve learned with a planet of 7 billion people, that we have to ration these precious goods. And the good old price system is the best way to do it.”

Sandor’s company, Climate Exchange PLC, owns the major exchange for these emissions, the ECX. The Isle of Man-based company also owns the voluntary American counterpart, the Chicago Climate Exchange (
CCX), where Sandor is listed as chairman and founder, and sits on the board of directors with Maurice Strong. It is also worth noting that the CCX was originally funded with grant money from the Joyce Foundation, grants which were awarded to Sandor while Barack Obama was still at the Joyce Foundation. Barack Obama will be in Copenhagen next week at the UNFCCC’s 15th Conference of the Parties (COP15) to discuss climate change actions on behalf of the United States, and he has advocated for a mandatory cap-and-trade system in the US and the adoption of the Kyoto Protocol.

Every trade on the ECX (or CCX) generates income for Sandor’s Climate Exchange PLC through the exchange
fees, and many of the over 354 million CERs issued by the UN have indeed ended up on the ECX. The Gujarat CDM project itself is authorized to produce some 3 million CERs per year. The current price (November 2009) per CER is approximately €13.50 ($20.22), making the yearly output of the Gujarat CDM project alone approximately $60,660,000 worth of CERs.

The CER price changes daily: in 2008, CERs prices spiked to over €20 ($45), and it could rise again, as emissions credits are a UN/governmentally-controlled commodity that is totally subject to the will of the UN and force of the Kyoto Protocol. Even with volatility, however, the CDM projects have proven to offer an incredible return on the initial investment for CDM parties. Annex I/II emitters can negotiate for acquisition of the CERs from the CDM project owner by offering everything from money, to debt financing, to equity investments, to even technology swaps (Baker & McKenzie, pg 15). Capital from Annex I/II parties goes very far in developing nations: when the Gujarat project was approved in 2006, the average Indian worker was making less than $797 a year. Meanwhile, from just this one project, Inox, Ineos Fluor, and EDF are raking in a CER income of over $60.6 million per year.

The UN estimates that as many as
2.9 Billion CERs while be created by 2012. This does not include the EU governmentally-created allowances (EUAs). At the current price of $20.22, the CER aspect of the emissions market alone would be over $58,638,000,000. Because of their fungibility, the CERs compete with the EUAs on Sandor’s European Climate Exchange, and the total number of EUAs is even larger than that of the CERs. Since the Kyoto Protocol transforms emission rights into a commodity, the treaty does not restrict the purchase of emissions credits exclusively to emitters (who must purchase the credits to comply with the treaty), but instead, opens the market is to any investor with the money to play. And if any investors have money they want in the emissions markets, it is the banks—including the World Bank.

Check out these two tables:

The data on both tables was collected from this
CDM project chart released by the Chinese Department of Climate Change. The data details the ownership interests for CERs from over 2,279 different CDM projects in China, and is current to November 13, 2009. Please note that these are CDM projects in China only, and China accounts for about 58% of current CDM activity.

Take a look at the "Banks" table, then continue reading this.

In addition to the projects on the table, many of these same banks (and others not included on the table) have further investments in CDM outside of China, especially the World Bank, which claims the CERs for itself and sells them to support repayment to its shareholder nations. The World Bank and its subsidiary, International Bank for Development and Reconstruction, have be criticized for funding destructive and unnecessary CDM projects (especially hydropower dams) for the sole purpose of collecting the CERs. In Indonesia, investors (including the World Bank) are purchasing CERs from the CDM owners at as low as ¼ the market price: some CERs are being purchased for $5 and resold for $20 (current market price example). As presented in the table, the World Bank’s Chinese CER holdings alone are over 28.7 Billion, and the current value of these CERs is over $581 million. But the Chinese investments are only a portion of the Bank’s CER holdings. In 2008, twenty UK-based non-government organizations sent a letter to the UK Secretary of State, expressing their concern that the World Bank’s then $12 Billion CER portfolio might negatively influence the path away from actual sustainability and towards top-down CDM projects. Since 2008, the World Bank’s portfolio has only gotten larger.

Commercial and investment banks also continue to increase funding for CDM to gain access to the CER units, which are usually replenished yearly.
Citigroup, for example, invested over $6.3 Billion in 2008 in CDM projects, and plans to invest $50 Billion in the next few years. Citi also recently started purchasing CERs from Israeli companies, and says it plans up $70 Billion in market activity. Morgan Stanley invested $3 Billion in CERs back in 2006.

Also, some of the large banks are shareholders in Climate Exchange PLC and other market-related companies. For example,
Goldman Sachs, at one point owned over 10% stake in Climate Exchange PLC, but has since reduced this. The last available report from 2007 indicates that Citigroup (through its Vidacos Nominees subsidiary under the Invesco shareholder group) controls 11,549,992 shares of Climate Exchange PLC, or over 24% of issued shares. Domestically, many of the same financial firms are also heavily involved in the only mandatory emissions scheme in the US, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

In addition to banks, Chinese CDM’s have attracted dozens of private equity firms and trading arms for various commodity companies: take a look at the second table, "Private Equity/Trading Firms."

As the table shows, one of the single largest holders of CERs—with nearly 40 million from CDM projects in China alone—is EcoSecurities PLC. EcoSecurities PLC was originally
founded in 1997 as an investment firm focused on creating various emission market investment vehicles through the use of Kyoto Protocol credits. In fact, the first carbon offset certification system was developed by EcoSecurities, and licensed to the French bank Societe General in January 1997—nearly a year before the UNFCCC’s Kyoto Protocol was adopted in December 1997. The 2008 Annual Report indicates a total of 482 CDM projects producing a CER holding of 144 million (pg 12) at year end (both numbers are higher now). Additionally, 2008 profits grew by ten fold over 2007, generating a nearly $70 million profit. The current market value of their CER portfolio is $2.9 Billion.

And EcoSecurites and their portfolio is now the property of
JP Morgan Chase & Co. JP Morgan announced the buy-out of the company in November, after a bidding war that had started in September, through a wholly-owned subsidiary, Carbon Acquisition Company, Ltd. As the name suggests, JP Morgan’s Carbon Acquisition Company is an established company in the carbon/emissions market that has been acquiring CERs either through CDM projects or through other brokers. Through this acquisition, JP Morgan now claims another 144 million CER. Additionally, in 2008 JP Morgan purchased the voluntary online offset company, Climate Care, which sells CERs and emission credits to individuals at the changing market price to offset everything from driving a car to taking a flight, and sends them a “green” certification stating their purchase of the "offset."

Second on the table of non-bank firms is Camco, with over 21 million of CERs through Chinese CDM.
Camco is also one of the largest emissions trading firms: according the 2008 annual report (pg 6), the company held 155.3 million in emissions credits (most CERs). Camco is not an emitter and thus has no use for the credits but to sell them: the credits are the primary investment of the company.

Camco is a publicly UK traded company, and the
majority shareholder—with a nearly 20% stake in the company and holding 34.5 million shares—is Al Gore’s Generation Investment Management (GIM). GIM’s investment in Camco is one of its largest exposures to the CER market.

GIM is a
UK-based private equity firm with at least $5 Billion under management, which was founded in 2004 by former vice president Al Gore with the help of four former Goldman Sachs executives. The Goldman executives are GIM co-founder and senior partner, David Blood (former CEO of Goldman Sachs Asset Management); GIM co-founder and chief investment officer, Mark Ferguson (former head of several Goldman Sachs AM arms); and the former president and CEO of Goldman Sachs and Treasury Secretary during the Bush, Henry “Hank” Paulson (who is not listed as a co-founder, but is acknowledged by GIM for his role in the creation of the firm).

Other Goldman Sachs executives now at GIM include managing partner
Peter Harris, director Lisa Anderson, director Martin Bray, director David Lowish, associate Phillip Harris, associate Lucy Hodgson, associate Selina Jarrett, associate Nicholas Kukrika, associate Flavia Lunganira, associate Lesley Martinez, and associate Loretta White. GIM’s team consists of just 36 people—13 of which are formerly of Goldman Sachs. GIM’s investment portfolio is varied, and its 20% stake in Camco exposes the firm directly that company’s 155.3 million CER holding (current value over $3.14 Billion).

Also on the table, with over 14 million CERs in China alone is Vitol.
Vitol is one of the largest energy traders in the world, and a self-described “multi-billion dollar oil conglomerate.” Similarly, RWE Power is a Germany utility which is heavily involved in energy trading, and had a 2008 CER portfolio of over 45 million. Dutch Royal Shell’s trading arm, Shell Trading, also has a multi-million CER portfolio for energy trading: according to a 2005 report, the company had control over 96 million tonnes of carbon. Exact information on Shell’s current portfolio could not be located. Additionally, Dutch Royal Shell recently requested that restrictions be lifted on the emissions market that would allow for full derivative activity with emission credits, and predicted a price of $100 per tonne CO2.

Another notable firm on the table is Gaisi Peony Capital, a part of
Peony Capital. Peony Capital is a Cayman Islands-based firm with over €400 million ($569 million) for CDM investments in China, and was originally seeded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2007 with a 25% investment (€100, or $136 million at the time) to become an “anchor shareholder.” The firm now holds over 5.3 million CERs.

There are hundreds of Annex I/II parties buying the Chinese CDM project CERs, and there are a couple more on the table worth mentioning, including
MGM International. Morgan Stanley has a 38% stake in this company, which has 4.7 million CER from Chinese CDM. In addition, this Reuters release states the 2008 ECRs for MGM at over 16.8 million. Also, Morgan Stanley in 2007 established the “Carbon Bank,” which sells voluntary credits to parties interested in offsetting their emission. The Reuters release also includes CER numbers for the agricultural giant Cargill, which is run through Cargill’s Green Hercules Trading, a UK based commodities trading firm. The report totals Cargill’s 2008 activity at 8.7 million CER. EDF, the French power company which funded the Gujarat project, is fifth from the top of the list, with 62.2 million CER.

Finally, the United Nations Clean Development Mechanism would not be complete without the UN itself getting a cut. Indeed, besides the banks, investment firms, utilities, and chemical companies getting their piece of the global warming pie, so to does United Nations profit from the emissions market through the “
Share of Proceeds” clause in the Kyoto Protocol. The Share of Proceeds entitles the UNFCCC to $0.10 per CER issued up to the first 15,000, and $0.20 per CER after that. Additionally, there is a project application fee for submission that ranges from $30,000 to $350,000 per project. And finally, the UNFCCC takes 2% of the issued CERs and adds them to its own “Adaption Fund” portfolio.

Given these facts, we can calculate the UN's cut of the Gujarat project. First, the UN collected a $30,000 application fee. Then after approval and the 3 million CER per year assessment, the UN collects the per-CER fee--which amounts to $598,500. Next, the UN claims 2% of the CERs for its own portfolio, which is 60,000 CERs. If these CERs are converted to the current market price of $20.22, their value is $1,213,200, which means that the Gujarat project alone is netting the United Nations $1,811,200 per year (plus a one-time $30,000 fee).

UN estimates it will issue 2.9 Billion CER by 2012: with the 2% entitlement alone, the UN will collect 58 million CER with a current value of over $1.7 Billion--$1,172,760,000 to be more precise. With the additional $0.10 to $0.20 per CER income (given that only the first 15,000 CER are charged at $0.10, this should be estimated as an average at $0.15 or higher), the UN will collect at least another $435,000,000. And finally, if assuming the only minimum application fee of $30,000 (which produces the lowest possible revenue, as the actual fees range up to $350,000) for the approximate 5,000 projects to be registered by 2012, the UN would also collect at least another $150,000,000. Therefore, by its own estimates, the UN stands to collect at least $1,757,760,000 by 2012—and it is actually almost certain to collect more, as the market players can easily move the price of this “commodity” higher and the UN itself can restrict the supply of credits and spike the price nearly at will. Indeed, everyone is getting paid off the backs of the third world. Again.

As the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism pollutes water, destroys farmland, poisons people, and displaces entire populations, the money interests behind the possibly soon $10 Trillion emission market are lauding themselves for saving the planet and “preventing” global warming. In fact, what they are actually doing is destroying lives and immorally disregarding the human rights of millions of people, people whose “carbon footprint” isn’t 1/1,000 of Al Gore’s. The only people in Gujarat who would consider Richard Sandor the “Hero of the Planet” either own a fluorochemical plant or trade on the ECX. As President Obama meets next week in Copenhagen at the 15th Annual conference on global warming, the truth about the Kyoto Protocol must be broadcast, lest the powerful financial interests continue their rampage over human rights and towards their $10 Trillion emissions market casino dream.

Please forward/link this article to as many people as possible. We must stop this oppression, as we are next.

1 comment:

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