Policing Carbon CorruptionJune 11th, 2009
Posted by: Roger Pielke, Jr.
Imagine a cap and trade regime in place, and a company decides to shave off a few percentage points on its emissions accounting in order to generate a few tens of thousands more allowances. What happens then?
Australian Climate Change Minister Penny Wong explains the policing of carbon corruption via the Herald Sun (and for those like me needing some translation from Australian, here is the definition of “rort”):
Interpol has warned the carbon market will be irresistible to criminal gangs because of the vast amounts of cash to be made. Possible rorts include under-reporting of carbon emissions by firms and bogus carbon offset schemes.
“If someone is rorting it by even 1 per cent a year, we’re talking about many, many millions of dollars,” Mr Torr said.
Ms Wong’s office said AFP [Australian federal police] agents would be expected to enter premises and request paperwork to monitor firms’ emissions reductions. They would act on the 30-strong Australian Climate Change Regulatory Authority’s orders.
It said the authority could appoint staff members or police as inspectors.
She said the Department of Climate Change had spoken to the AFPA [Australian Federal Police Association] and the parties would talk again. Carbon trading involves carbon emissions rights buying and selling. Businesses can offset emissions by investing in climate-friendly projects, or carbon credits.
Ms Wong’s office said provisions had been made to ensure compliance. “Inspectors may enter premises and exercise other monitoring powers,” she said. “The inspectors may ask questions and seek the production of documents. There is provision for the issue of monitoring warrants by magistrates.”
The AFP’s 2855 sworn agents are involved in law enforcement in Australia and overseas, investigating terrorist threats, drug syndicates, people trafficking, fraud and threats against children.
Mr Torr said breaking carbon trading laws would be like breaking other laws. “These offences will constitute another federal crime type, along with narcotics importing, people smuggling and all the rest of it, that the AFP will be expected to police,” he said. “I can see very complex, covert investigations . . . a lot of scientific expertise required.”
Narcotics, human trafficking, carbon corruption. Wouldn’t a carbon tax be easier?