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Climate Change —> Climate Crisis —> Climate Injustice - A. Erinç Yeldan

The 26th Conference of the Parties (COP26), the most important meeting of global diplomacy in the fight against climate "change," completed its work in Glasgow. It has been understood that the commitments presented at the 26th COP in Glasgow, which included much more prepared and ambitious targets compared to the Paris Conference convened in 2015, unfortunately, could not achieve the targeted 1.5˚C increase (since the industrial revolution) in the struggle to limit global warming.

The Climate Action Tracker, which closely examines the COP26 commitments, stated in its report titled Glasgow’s 2030 Credibility Gap on November 9, "The policies implemented by countries are progressing at a snail's pace," and that even under current commitments, global warming will be 2.7°C until the end of the century.

Yet, throughout Glasgow, nearly 140 countries, primarily the European Union (EU), had declared net zero emissions targets against global warming. These 140 countries are responsible for 90% of global CO2 emissions, which is 34 million tons in total. However, even under the net-zero targets, it is seen that by 2030 there will be at least twice the greenhouse gas emissions consistent with 1.5˚C. Why is it so?

First of all, let's note that the target is net-zero emissions. This is based on the expectation that emissions will continue in gross terms and will be net-zero through introducing carbon sinks and storage technologies and young forestation. "How realistic is this expectation?" is a bitter question.

However, in our opinion, another important factor here is that the measures used for the net-zero target are too complex, indirect, and not effective enough… As it is known, the EU uses the carbon trading system (CTS) as the main tool for reducing emissions. Within this system, total emission quotas are allocated, and companies that cannot fulfill their quotas purchase the right to emit CO2 in the carbon market. Thus, it is expected that both the total emission level will be reduced to the desired level, and the companies will benefit from the efficiency gains of the market mechanism by trading CO2among themselves. They will provide the highest efficiency in resource allocation.

It will suffice to look only at the EU experience, without going into the subject of how the theoretical expectations of the CTS can become meaningless in real life, thanks to offsets and the speculative appetite of multinational companies and financial rating agencies, and their "creativity" that will frustrate the system. In the EU, CTS has been implemented since 2005 and covers around 15,000 businesses and 1,500 air transport companies operating in seven main sectors. Due to the excessive surplus created by free allowances in the first years of operation of the system, the carbon market was not formed at positive prices; however, it is seen that the "market" started to function after 2013 when the limit on the allocations in question was increased. Below, data from the European Environment Agency shows these observations.

As a result of the carbon trading of companies under the EU CTS, with the free allowances gradually reduced from 2 billion tons to 500 million tons, we see that the price of CO2 has risen to 50 Euros per ton, and approved emissions had decreased from 1,908 tons in 2013 to 1,355 tons in 2020. This corresponds to a cumulative 28.8% reduction after 2013. This gain in seven years is unique to CTS companies only. When we look at the total EU greenhouse gas emissions, we see that the achieved reduction can only reach to 9%. If we take the time horizon from 2015, the start year of the CTS, instead of 2013, we read that CO2e emissions reached only 22% in 15 years and could be reduced from 5.2 billion tons to 4.057 billion tons. These data are presented in the chart below, in comparison with the emissions of CTS and all sectors.

Therefore, gains under CTS are very slow, and the global climate change struggle is delayed. I also stated this determination in my article dated October 13 and used the following words: "The irresistible profit greed of the capitalist unit system and the fueled consumption pattern of the capitalist unit system lie at the heart of the problem. Larry Lohman, in his statement in La Nuova Ecologica magazine in September, emphasizes that the carbon trading system actually ignores the essence of the problem and that the fossil fuel-based energy system and industrial companies throw the problem to future generations thanks to the offsets, marketization games and speculative designs created by this system."

Scientists have calculated that since the industrial revolution, in order to keep global warming at 1.5˚C, we need to keep greenhouse gas emissions at the level of 2,900 billion tons in total. To date, 2,340 billion tons of this "budget" has been "spent," that is, released into the atmosphere. Hence, the global emissions volume consistent with 1.5˚C from now on is only 550 billion tons. Considering that the annual global emissions are 50 billion tons of CO2 equivalent greenhouse gas, it will be seen that only 10-11 years remain for the remaining carbon budget. In the words of the CAT report, it is impossible to achieve this target with policies that "advance at a snail's pace."

Source: OECD

The second very important factor that caused the delay in the fight against the global climate crisis is the slow implementation of the exit from fossil fuels and the energy conversion process in general. Here, too, the continuation of the supports for the fossil fuel sectors, especially the incentives offered to the coal industries, at an intense pace constitutes the essence of the problem. OECD Environment Statistics documents that the financial support provided to the fossil fuels they demand reaches between 500 and 600 billion dollars per year. Fossil fuels financial support, which seems to have decreased to 310 billion dollars in 2020 due to the economic recession due to the Covid pandemic, is expected to exceed 500 billion dollars again.

Meanwhile, the amount of financial support granted to fossil fuels in Turkey is estimated at 17,638 billion TL in 2020 by the OECD database; Let us note that this corresponds to 0.4% of our national income.

Climate Injustice and Climate Genocide

The climate crisis, on the other hand, exposes the uneven development laws of capitalism in its entirety. When we compare the current global emission and the existing "CO2 budget" that we have presented above with the income sharing pattern in our world, this fact is revealed in all its bareness. Oxfam's "Global Emissions and Income Inequality" Report, published last week, shows that per capita CO2e emissions, which is responsible for the richest 1% in the world, increased by 25% compared to 1990, and the CO2e greenhouse gas created by this sector as a result of consumption activities has reached 30 times the emission budget set with the 1.5C warming target. On the other hand, while the CO2e emissions of the "wealthy" 10% reach ten times the same target, CO2e emissions created by the "poor" 50% are 20% below the average. According to the data in the report, the "average" (whatever that means?) emissions per capita, taken as a whole, hover 2.2 tons/person above the 1.5˚C target.

Source: Oxfam

In the "fight" with the global climate crisis, we see that the sacrifice of "austerity" falls to the share of the global poor, as is the case with the plans to overcome the same economic crises.

Let's finish our words with this photo of Chico Mandez, which was widely shared in the media last week: "Environmentalism without class struggle is just gardening."


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