Examining the quality of carbon trading as pathway to environmental justice or recipe for disaster

The Kyoto Protocol is an international arrangement setting goals for thirty-seven industrialised countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Clean Development Mechanism as a flexibility mechanism defined in the Kyoto Protocol offers emission reduction projects which generate Certified Emission Reduction units which may be traded in emissions trading schemes. The purpose is to support industrialised countries in attaining compliance with part of their quantified emission curb and reduction obligations but without emission reductions in their own countries. The Bisasar landfill in Durban was opened in 1980 during the Apartheid era in the largely Indian residential area of Clare Estate. Although the new democratic government promised to close the landfill in 1994, it still remains operational – mainly due to the Clean Development Mechanism project adopted by government. In an attempt to examine the effectiveness of carbon trading schemes to reduce emissions, this paper examines literature on how the carbon trading project at the landfill has progressed since its inception. Empirical work with key social actors since 2007 is drawn upon coupled with recent literature to examine how government’s ‘model’ quality project has unfolded. Evidence suggests that the state has failed to acknowledge that the carbon trading project stimulates waste accumulation in order to secure methane for carbon credits. Far from addressing climate change, the scheme intensifies local environmental and health risks and ignores livelihoods while reestablishing Apartheid-era racial conflicts. There is an urgent need for government to explore alternatives to landfills and carbon trading projects which will offer sustainable jobs and robust recycling interventions.
Keywords: Bisasar landfill, carbon trading, resource recovery, environmental justice

Leonard, L. (2015) Examining the quality of carbon trading as pathway to environmental justice or recipe for disaster at the Bisasar landfill in Durban, South Africa, Journal for Physical, Health Education, Recreation and Dance 1: 125-137

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