MAC: Mines and Communities

Black Stuff And Nonsense

Published by MAC on 2007-08-14

Black stuff and nonsense

14th August 2007

Australians rely on the burning of coal for electricity to such an extent that, per capita, they are the world's largest contributors to global greenhouse gas emissions.

Canada's province of Ontario is the country's biggest guzzler of electricity, a fifth of which is generated from coal. Now it's proposing to substitute the black stuff for alternative (including nuclear) power by the year 2014. However, the prospect has aroused opposition from both sides of the argument.

The Rainforest Action Network of the US (RAN) is asking supporters to choose the nation's dirtiest bank, judged by its contribution to global warming through investment in coal. Bank of America, Citibank and JPMorgan Chase are the contending culprits.

"Carbon offsets" - backed by major funding for the so-called Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), vaunted by the World Bank - are increasingly being traded as if they contributed significantly to a reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions.

But evidence is growing that they do nothing of the kind. They may also severely threaten sustainable community development (as in the Indian state of Chhattisgarh) and pour yet more money into the coffers of companies themselves among the world's biggest contributors to global warming.

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