September 15, 2020

Thou shall not sell environmental crimes indulgences

Sir, albeit a bit late, I refer to David Sheppard’s Big Read “Carbon trading: the ‘one-way’ bet for hedge funds” FT August 23.In his Encyclical Letter 'Laudato Si’ of 2015, Pope Francis wrote:

"171. The strategy of buying and selling “carbon credits” can lead to a new form of speculation which would not help reduce the emission of polluting gases worldwide. This system seems to provide a quick and easy solution under the guise of a certain commitment to the environment, but in no way does it allow for the radical change which present circumstances require. Rather, it may simply become a ploy which permits maintaining the excessive consumption of some countries and sectors."

With “permits” Pope Francis was here de facto referring to some type of “indulgences”, which help pardon environmental sins. 

It was Martin Luther’s attacks on the Catholic Church’s sale of indulgences for the remission of temporal punishment for forgiven sins, which caused the rift that led to the creation of the Protestant Church. Therefore, more than 500 years since Luther in 1517 (supposedly) nailed his “Ninety-five Thesis” on the door of Old Saints' Church in Wittenberg, I found it curious (and equally correct) to read a Catholic Pope accusing many protestants who favor carbon trading, for sort of a similar procedure.

As a protestant belonging to the Swedish church, ser wife and catholic children, I do not like carbon trading, as I previously explained in a letter you published, I much prefer high carbon taxes shared out equally to all, as that would align the incentives in the fight against climate change and the fight against poverty.