CO2 should not be traded

This week I was confronted again with CO2 calculations. It was about the (absolute) CO2 budget, the maximum that can still be emitted to keep a chance of staying under 1.5 degrees, and which will be exhausted at the end of next year.[1] The starting point, of course, should be to stay within that budget. Which will be difficult, of course, since almost everyone is working on “reductions”, which are relative and is not really progressing. In this case it was about bio-based building, which is not only low CO2, but you store some as well! Is the reasoning. Good for that budget. But then, you want to make money out of that, right? How? They want to trade that with certificates, as I understood from a presentation last week. That makes things needlessly complicated, and leads to corruption and green-washing anyway.[2]

The result of low CO2 or stored CO2 should no be trading in our financial system, but simply, lead to less or no emissions. At the most its should be taxed in the financial system, and less if you emit less. But don’t start earning money from that! Indeed, a common reasoning is that you are emitting less compared to something that may have lead to emitting far too much…. ( mind its ‘reduction’ again…). And them you could sell the reduction as a certificate. Well, is the reaction but we even store a part, it’s negative emissions… No, no money earning from storage either! That there is Carbon tied up in biobased buildings, is fine of course, but in principle no more than normal, that you treat energy and resources decently and contribute to maintaining a livable world. Technically speaking: well done guys!

But that’s not a business model…. that’s the world upside down. First of all: You still need raw materials and among other things cut down trees for that so-called storage. And those trees need time to grow, which does put a burden on the system in the form of a time-related claim on land and solar use,[3], which then cannot be used for anything else. So earning money on that before hand is a scam.

But secondly: Those certificates, so the story was told, are not sold to lets say Shell, because that would create a weird situation. But then sold to whom, who is without sins? Microsoft could (for example) buy them, I understood. They want to become more sustainable, but supposedly cannot make all their products CO2 emission-free yet. So they might buying up those CO2 negative building certificates. In other words, whether Microsoft has good intentions or not, what is actually going on is that Microsoft is using the construction industry as an excuse for its own emissions. When in fact Microsoft of course should no longer be making products that emit CO2 either, just like the construction sector. Well, then Microsoft should also make everything biobased? Yes, and so what? And yes, that creates quite a challenge, but that’s no different of course from construction? What makes Microsoft different? Besides, why does Microsoft needs those certificates? To cover up CO2 emissions produced by using products of Shell in their manufacturing…

Right. So why are we so “forgiving” to Microsoft? Ah the poor guys, they have a problem so let them buy some more certificates? They are allowed to go on emitting CO2 for a while, and we move heaven and earth to build homes without CO2? Let them solve their own problem…! Right?

By the way: if those building certificates are sold to (for example) Microsoft, then Microsoft can claim those CO2 effects, but the construction industry cannot! Not anymore. After all, they sold them for a lot of money, and you can’t call your building CO2 neutral or negative anymore, it does not count, because CO2 was legally emitted and compensated elsewhere.

Moreover, by selling certificates those CO2 emissions thus remain, giving others the opportunity to continue, while we actually have no more emissions to emit or trade at all. In other words, certificates maintain CO2 emissions. Yes, but, the price gets higher, and then they will have an effect… Howver then we will print and borrow money! Money is not an environmental measure, money, and the regulations around it, is in fact invented to consume more. Money is in fact not wealth, but debt. Debt in money on the one hand, creating debt to raw material and energy supplies, drinking water supplies and fertile land on the other hand.[4] But of course that is a far too nasty story, too negative, pessimistic, doom-and-gloom. Come on Mr. Rovers, a little more optimistic. No, unfortunately: it’s not pessimism or optimism, it’s realism. (Nor is it left or right, or conservative or progressive, they are physical laws).

The only thing that works , if looking at CO2, is working with an absolute budget, which should not be integrated in the financial system*. By bringing it into the financial system you are joining a system that has caused the very problems in the first place, by encouraging unlimited energy and material use, and which has purposefully “forgotten” to value the resources itself **. And regardless of whether our way of life can ever be lived without CO2, there simply aren’t enough energy and (concentrated) materials to stay in that same rat race. If anything, CO2 should be regulated independently of the money system.

And by the way, CO2 is only a consequence, and even only one of many consequences of our way of life. We have to manage resources and energy, maintain stocks instead of depleting them.

And that’s precisely we are running out of at top speed. Everything is depleted: fertile soil, drinking water, biodiversity, raw materials, fish stocks, forests, healthy atmosphere. ( except money, which is growing…)

Why are these resources running out? Because the “annual harvest”, the annual budget available without disrupting cycles, has long since overconsumed, when in fact that is the part we should live on. [5] Living on the annual available harvest, and not living on the stocks in the system, thanks to which we have precisely this natural environment (including ourselves) and this climate in which we can flourish, on this island in the universe.

You could sum up the whole party like this:

What’s the problem? CO2? And how does that come about? Burning fossil energy. And why do we do that? For using energy and materials. For what? For making infinite stuff. And how do we get that stuff? With Money. And how do we get that money? We borrow that by simply printing it. And what do we do with it? Make more Products. And how? Using fossil fuels and raw materials. And what is the consequence? Depletion of raw materials, depletion of fresh water, depletion of fertile land, loss of biodiversity, cutting down forests, nitrogen emissions, depleting oceans, and, oh yes Climate Change. By CO2, remember?

Don’t bother, that’s what we have certificates for, right?



*I’m not for using CO2 as a steering unit anyway, that’s an end of pipe approach. But counting directly in energy and resources. We must not only reduce CO2 emissions, but also energy and resource use. See earlier contributions for that. [5]

** And so we are still not doing that: we are going to put a price on, and make money from, one of the consequences, a side effect. But energy and resource use itself remain mostly out of the picture. Energy because we are trying to replace everything with renewable energy with big money loans (ie imaginary debt) (see also previous episode), and as for raw materials: now even the oceans are going to be plundered for free. Fishing was already free, and now so are raw materials [6].

[1] CO2 budget:

[2] fraude CO2 certificaten (Dutch)


[3] CO2 opslag:

[4] geld schuld :

[5] fossiel

[6] oa

Author: ronald rovers