And that if you attempt to set up a market without having the first [expletive deleted] clue about how capitalism works on a practical level, that market will be manipulated by people who do have a [expletive deleted] clue about how capitalism works on a practical level.
Executive summary: the UN/Europeans set up a system by which industries could earn “carbon credits” through various, presumably eco-friendly, activities. These credits could then be sold to other companies, allowing them to “pollute” – scare quotes because the term can and does mean anything from actual pollution to the breaking of some highly bizarre, secularist-religious taboos – more themselves. …OK, in the sense that this is what was done. But the wrinkle is that industries could score extra carbon credits by destroying particularly noxious gasses. As in, ‘orders of magnitude’ extra. So a bunch of industries in India and China started to do just that; they ramped up production of one particular refrigeration coolant that produced an awful – and suddenly lucrative – gas byproduct. The companies then destroyed the gas byproduct. They then took the credits that they got from destroyed the gas byproduct, sold said credits for a healthy profit – and sold the refrigeration coolant dirt cheap to keep demand for it high. And, of course, with demand being so high, the companies involved can point out that they’re involved in legitimate business practices*.
End result: profit!
Secondary end result: various environmentalists and environmental bureaucrats making fish mouths and ga-ga sounds! Especially when the industries involve cheerfully tell them that if the bureaucrats don’t keep paying up, the industries will go back to venting the gas!
Before anybody asks me what the solution is, let me cheerfully note: [expletive deleted] if I know. But I do know how to solve the problem, which seems to have eluded the UN/Europeans: which is to say, first you decide what you want to do. In this case, you want to remove various noxious industrial waste byproducts, right? OK, good. Then you go to the people producing that industrial waste, and you find out why they’re producing it. Once you have that figured out, you find out why they’re not switching over to something more efficient (as a good rule of thumb; ‘more efficient’ = ‘less waste,’ and thus ‘less pollution’). Then you figure out a way to facilitate that switchover… hold up! Stop: simply banning the manufacturing process that produces the byproducts never works; it just shifts it to somewhere out of your effective jurisdiction. Like, say, the People’s Republic of China. Besides, if you fix the process then you still get to have whatever it is that was being manufactured in the first place.
That’s what you do. What do you not do? Well, ignoring the heck out of a bunch of radical Greenie religious fanatics who want everybody else** to revert to a pre-gunpowder level of technology would be a good start…
*Not that it’s the UN’s or Europe’s business to tell Asian countries what is or is not a legitimate business practice. At least, not from the point of view of the Asian countries in question – both of which have several hundred years of European colonialist thinking to throw back in the faces of earnest Western liberals.
**Only the most fanatical want that lifestyle for themselves, too. The rest would be happy enough with a remote island that’s stocked with enough technological infrastructure to last them the rest of their natural lives. Because they deserve it.