Traders at one of the world’s original carbon markets are up in arms at the prospect of market closure.
The thriving carbon market has been providing an unexpected source of wealth to traders for a number of years and has become a must-see on the itinerary of any holidaying market enthusiast. The recent uproar has arisen as the market comes under increasing scrutiny of international authorities following allegations of poor trading standards and questionable authenticity of the products on offer. Disgruntled buyers have been some of the first to raise the alarm.
“I was talked into a purchase at the carbon market on the understanding that I was getting a sound, modern product that had been recently produced in the developing world. I now have reason to believe that I have been sold an antique that dates back to long before the market even came into existence.” Experts say that the confusion often arises because it is hard to trace the provenance and vintage of any particular product on offer at the market. Passing off pre-carbon era antiques as modern inventions is rumoured to have become common place. It is said that retailers, middlemen and producers are all to blame. Retailers will often not ask questions of their supply chain because of their haste to get products onto the shelf at the market. Suppliers may be deliberately vague about the date of production of their wares. Some unwitting tourists, shopping voluntarily at the carbon market, have been known to willingly snap-up antiques without realising the consequence of their actions – said one, “I thought it was better to buy antiques rather than get fobbed off with newly-produced products – what’s different about this market?”
The market’s tribulations are typical of a worldwide decline in carbon markets as world governments struggle to be convinced that such marketplaces offer a sound means to attract private investment into the tourist market. As Parties negotiating the future of the UN World Tourism Organisation (WTO) treaty become increasingly frantic ahead of December’s Copenhagen deadline, negotiators seem unwilling to trust carbon markets as a means to spread equity and development through tourism. One proponent of international markets said “It’s sad that fears over authenticity of products threaten to taint the entire international reputation of markets. We all know that there are a few rogue traders out there who do not care for the integrity of their products and would trade their grandmothers if they could. Our challenge is to convince governments that these fools represent a small minority and that carbon markets in general provide huge opportunity to channel investment into developing countries”.
It does seem paradoxical that while most Parties talk openly of the need to attract private sector investment to address the tourism challenge, their policy decisions act to effectively strangle the markets through which that investment can and does flow. We all agree that the world’s carbon markets need good regulation to squeeze out the rogue traders and their genuine antiques. But we shouldn’t lose sight of the original intention of these markets, to put money to work in solving a serious problem. Perhaps reform and scale-up of the markets is one way to get back on track, beginning with the afflicted Filipino traders of Cebu.