The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Profit from Producing Pollution

Oct 15, 2012

The world’s carbon-credit system was supposed to provide incentives for business to reduce global-warming pollution. It is having a bizarre blowback.

Nineteen factories in the world are now in high gear to produce tons of refrigerant HCFC-22 and its by-product HFC-23. The refrigerant itself destroys the ozone layer, but the by-product, HFC-23, is far worse – 11,700 times more harmful to the atmosphere than carbon dioxide.

Therefore, a factory that produces and then destroys HFC-23 can sell credits for 11,700 times the credit for carbon dioxide.

And, since the credits can be sold for 100 times more than the cost of producing HFC-23, businesses are built around this profit model: producing as much HFC-23 as the credits will bear! Of course this means they have massively increased production of the ozone depleting pollutant HCFC-22, which they are not destroying.

The 19 factories in the world that earn such credits expect to rake in one billion dollars profit in the next eight years, after already making at least 20 million per plant per year since 2005.

Far from stopping a threat to global warming, the carbon credit system creates a greater threat.

It’s only an extreme example of the immense insanity of a wasteful capitalist economy. This economy generates more profit, the more that it creates products with a short useful life and a fast trip to the landfill.

Capitalism itself is the primary waste product that must be destroyed, to save the Earth.