Meet the Wall Street climate change lobby

This is timely. The Center for Public Integrity — the group behind the lobbying figures I recently summarized — has sponsored a series of “meet the lobbyists” investigative pieces, and they just ran one on the emissions trading industry.

A couple of passages jumped out at me:

> The traders are still an emerging force. “It’s a bit premature to talk about carbon markets gaining power at the moment,” says Henry Derwent, president of the [International Emissions Trading Association]. “Power remains in the hands of companies that need to reduce their emissions.”

This gets to the first point I made: the finance lobby is real and important, but still small potatoes compared to the groups who will be more directly affected by the carbon cap.

Then there’s this:

> Before lobbying the U.S. Congress, [Derwent] says, the traders have faced two major obstacles: first, challenging widely held beliefs that climate change isn’t really happening, and second, convincing lawmakers that the perilous financial industry is part of the solution.

This gets to the other point I made: at least Wall Street is an influential voice *in favor of carbon legislation*. They’re spending hard dollars trying to convince lawmakers that climate change is a problem. The second half of Derwent’s proposition, of course, is going to raise a lot of hackles in certain circles, which is too bad. Although markets should be properly regulated, carbon trading is just not the problem some people think it is.

Here’s a video that accompanied the article. I get the sense that we’re supposed to be somehow shocked or outraged by this, but really it all just seems pretty unexceptional.

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  1. Mike Malone - December 23, 2009

    Sadly, I find it hard to shake the belief that in today’s world, markets exist to be gamed, probably in ways that plain folks could not reasonably predict up front.
    To say that the power resides with the parties (in this case the polluters) is not to say much given that the market is not yet developed. The same was likely true initially for any emerging market.
    So it should be no surprise that Wall St. is in favor of any new money flow it can get its sticky fingers into. It does not require any moral or ideological commitment. It’s just business.
    Let’s hear it for “Burdenesome regulation” !!
    OTOH If we believe carbon trading has a good chance of success, even with Wall St.’s predictable corruption of the process, then at least we can rejoice in having a powerful ally.
    — Dorian Grey