Charlemagne, Soot, Smoke, Mirrors - Charlemagne Soot smoke...

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Charlemagne, “Soot, smoke and mirrors: Europe's flagship environmental programme is foundering,” 16 November 2006. ASK a European what the continent is good at, and sooner or later he or she will say protecting the environment. Our economies may be struggling. We may be failing to integrate Muslims. But, by golly, we are green and cuddly, like a Martian teddy bear. Yet at a time when policies on climate change are coming under scrutiny, the European Union's flagship programme, the emission-trading scheme, is in serious trouble. It was set up last year amid high hopes: it is the first international arrangement that uses markets to reduce soot and smoke. But unless reformed, it will go down as a good idea, badly executed. The system works as follows. National governments decide how much carbon the five dirtiest heavy industries in their countries may spew forth (the industries are things like power generation, pulp and paper, and metal bashing). They then allocate “permits to pollute” to each company in that line of business. If a firm wants to go over its limit, it must buy “pollution permits” from cleaner firms or credits from developing countries that have set up special projects to lower emissions. The case for such a European policy is strong. When it comes to the environment, individual countries suffer “the tragedy of the commons”: they capture the benefits of polluting while the costs are dumped on the common land, air and water. Ideally, pollution controls would be
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