Sunday, 6 December 2009

Here’s how to gauge success at Copenhagen

Charles Clover

You’d think climate scientists had made fools of themselves enough already. Then up pops the grandaddy of them all, James Hansen of Nasa’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, he who started the global warming bandwagon rolling in 1988 by telling Congress that the US drought had a human explanation.
Last week he said it would be better for this week’s Copenhagen climate talks to fail because the solutions on offer aren’t going to solve the problem. Bonkers, absolutely bonkers, I thought, until I realised that he has a book out.
Hansen has clearly led a sheltered life when it comes to politics and history. He argues that dealing with climate change is like dealing with slavery — and that Copenhagen is our last chance to tackle global warming. “On those kinds of issues, you can’t compromise,” he says. “You can’t say, ‘Let’s reduce slavery, let’s find a compromise and reduce it 50% or reduce it 40%’.”
He conveniently forgets that his hero, Abraham Lincoln, compromised repeatedly with the slave states in an attempt to stave off secession from the Union. Hansen also argues that if you really wanted to solve the problem of climate change, you wouldn’t start with Copenhagen. Presumably, if he had been around at the time of Dunkirk, he’d have advocated ending the war and starting again from scratch.
Bonkers. Just as bonkers, in fact, as Lord Lawson, who told us recently Copenhagen would fail, which would be a good thing because it will cost poor countries a fortune if they have to use expensive renewable energy instead of cheap fossil fuels.
You would have thought that a former chancellor would know that global warming comes with costs attached, too. You don’t have to accept Lord Stern’s calculation that the costs of the effects of catastrophic climate change are five times those of mitigating climate change. If last week’s reports about the melt-rate of the West Antarctic ice sheet are correct, it is obvious that a lot of expensive sea walls will have to be built.
As often happens in politics, there is a curious similarity between the dogmatists on one side, such as Hansen and Friends of the Earth, and Lawson and the Republican sceptics on the other. Both sides hate carbon trading — the European emissions trading scheme or the cap-and-trade scheme that President Barack Obama is trying to get through the Senate — and both would like an international carbon tax to be levied. They should get real: carbon trading, set up by the Kyoto treaty, may have its drawbacks but it is one of the few things to have cut greenhouse gases since the world first promised to do so in 1992.
As Hansen seems not to grasp, politics never starts from where you want it to and it delivers results incrementally. For that reason it would be foolish to speak of the failure of Copenhagen before it has started. Nobody yet knows if it will be the historic turning point that Yvo de Boer, the United Nations’ climate chief, says it will be. The players haven’t started negotiating. Tomorrow the curtains open. Theatre begins. The unexpected will happen. I have a vivid recollection of bumping into a bleary-eyed John Prescott in a Kyoto corridor at 3am and telling him Al Gore had gone off to ring Bill Clinton because America was being drawn beyond its negotiating position. Under pressure from the conference hall, Gore promised a cut in carbon dioxide emissions that proved too much for the Senate to stomach.
The Senate may yet veto Copenhagen as it did Kyoto. That would be the real disaster because, this time, the parties involved are persuaded that man-made global warming is highly probable — not certain, there are no certainties in science — and too much of a risk to be ignored. But how do you judge success? Will developed countries pledge the 25%-40% cut in carbon dioxide emissions said to be needed to prevent the world warming more than 2C? Will developing countries pledge cuts for the first time?
Realistically, what must emerge is a treaty. If it doesn’t, sensible arrangements for transferring money into new technology around the world will collapse when Kyoto expires in 2012. And if Copenhagen collapses, none of the good things on offer this month, such as an overdue agreement on saving tropical forests, will get funded. If the United States enters the global carbon market, there will be more money available to save rainforests. Demand for such projects will rise and with it the price of a ton of carbon saved, which will drive green innovation. But if a climate bill does not pass through the US Senate by May — a month before an international meeting to tie up any treaty that emerges over the next two weeks in Denmark — Copenhagen will fail. This is going to be close.
We will, no doubt, spend the next two weeks reflecting that vast conferences with many thousands of participants aren’t very good at achieving deep precautionary cuts in emissions. But they’re all we’ve got. We may find that the Copenhagen circus leaves us with a lowest-common-denominator kind of deal that leaves a lot of work to be done. We may have to do more at a country level, such as taxing polluters for things such as sea walls and new bridges in Cumbria built to withstand the higher rainfall predicted in future. That is not failure and it is a lot better than having no treaty at all, whatever James Hansen says.

Copenhagen climate change conference: Borrow to the hilt to stop global warming, says Lord Stern

Governments should increase borrowing to tackle global warming despite the dire state of public balance sheets, according to Lord Stern of Brentford, the former chief economist of the World Bank.

By Rowena Mason:Published: 7:23PM GMT 05 Dec 2009
The author of the 2006 Stern Review on the cost of tackling climate change said he was an expert in dealing with tough budgetary constraints and acknowledged that the current public debt was "worrying".
But he believes that the irreversible nature of climate change means that extra pressures on the public balance sheet are justified.
"What I'm saying is that we should be prudent with public finances, but if we were to ask future generations: would you rather have a desecrated earth or more debt, then the answer would be they would like to have more debt," he told The Sunday Telegraph, after giving a speech this week. "You can get out of debt, but you can't get out of the other. It's one of the few cases where there's actually an argument for more borrowing. There's a logical justification to it."
His comments come ahead of the Copenhagen conference on climate change starting tomorrow, where global leaders will put in place plans to keep temperature rises below two degrees celsius by 2050.
The International Energy Agency has estimated that the world will need to spend more than $10 trillion on low-carbon energy generation and efficiency measures by 2030.
But more pressure on Britain's balance sheet would be likely to unsettle the markets, which are waiting to see how efforts to tackle the deficit will effect the country's triple-A credit rating.
Britain's budget deficit jumped far more than expected this autumn, as the downturn cut tax receipts and the UK has boosted spending on public projects and bailing out the banks.
The cost of tackling climate change is likely to be a vast expense over the next decade, with estimates from Ofgem, the energy regulator, and Ernst and Young, the accountants, agreeing that it could cost Britain £200bn.
The Government hopes that much of this will come from the private sector, eventually passed on to consumers through more expensive energy bills, airline tickets and manufactured goods. But so far, market mechanisms such as carbon trading have failed to deliver enough incentives for utilities and heavy industry to lower emissions.
Industry experts expect that the Government will at some point have to introduce more taxes or levies to make new nuclear and offshore wind economically viable.
Bruce Duguid, head of investors at the Carbon Trust, said he believed it was still feasible for the private sector plus state incentives to deliver the right investment to meet the UK's targets.
"We need to build the equivalent of two turbines the size of the Gherkin building every day for the next 10 years to meet our targets. But companies know we need to and I don't think we will need to increase public borrowing."

Copenhagen climate summit: glossary of the organisations involved

The Copenhagen climate change summit brings together countries and scientists represented by a mind-boggling range of organisations. Here are some of the key players.

By Matthew Moore : Published: 11:55AM GMT 05 Dec 2009
IPCC The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was established by the UN in 1988 to provide authoritative assessments of the latest climate change science. Its reports, which are compiled and reviewed by thousands of leading scientists, have provided the basis for international efforts to combat global warming by reducing carbon emissions. The IPCC shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore, but critics claim that the panel's structure and origins predispose it to blame global warming on man's actions.

UNFCCC More than 190 counties have now signed up to the UN's Framework Convention on Climate Change, a treaty drawn up at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. The agreement, which laid the ground for legally-binding targets adopted in Kyoto five years later, has also given rise to a permanent UN body of the same name, which coordinates countries' efforts to reduce emissions.
G77 An alliance of 130 developing nations including China and India. The G77 lobbies for the developed world to accept a greater share of the burden for fighting climate change, arguing that strict emission restrictions will hamper the economic growth of poorer nations. It has threatened to scupper any deal at Copenhagen unless the US agrees to meet tough CO2 targets.
LDCF The Least Developed Countries Fund provides financial support for countries – mainly in Africa – that are deemed most vulnerable to the consequences of climate change. It funds projects to help communities to adapt to threats such as flooding
MEFBritain is one of 17 members of the Major Economies Forum, a group of the world's largest polluters established by President Barack Obama earlier this year. Intended to foster discussions rather than produce firm agreements, its first communiqué in July offered little policy detail

Copenhagen climate summit issues: oceans

The oceans are warming. That is clear.

By Fred Pearce:Published: 9:00AM GMT 05 Dec 2009

The warming has penetrated to depths of more than a kilometre. In fact, such is the huge capacity of the oceans to absorb heat that 90 per cent of the extra warming so far caused by greenhouse warming of the atmosphere has ended up in the oceans.
One unambiguous consequence of the warming is rapid loss of ice across the Arctic Ocean, especially in summer. In the tropics there are concerns that more places may be vulnerable to hurricanes – which only form over oceans where the surface water is above 26 degrees Celsius. But there may be other factors involved, and the jury is still out on that.

Exactly how ocean life will respond to the warming is also hard to predict. Some species are migrating. Cod are moving north. Hence also, perhaps, those sharks spotted off south-west England. But how will things change overall?
Researchers predict the Arctic could bloom as waters warm and the disappearance of ice lets the sunlight through. But most sea life likes it cool, and away from the poles, warmer waters may already be reducing plankton growth. That could mean less food for fish. Also, the growth of plankton is the main mechanism by which the oceans absorb CO2 from the atmosphere. So if there is less plankton, more CO2 will stay in the air.
Some researchers think we should use the CO2-absorbing capacity of plankton to remove the gas from the air. In some waters, simply sprinkling iron filings on to the waves stimulates growth of plankton. In theory, the world could award carbon credits for “ocean seeding” – just as Copenhagen is expected to reward forest conservation. But nobody can yet provide good evidence whether the carbon absorbed in such experiments stays put or returns to the air later. That evidence may be hard to get, however, since another part of the UN system, the Convention on Biological Diversity, recently voted to ban further seeding of the oceans.
The oceans are also becoming measurably more acid – about 0.1 units on the pH scale, so far. By 2100, researchers expect a 0.5 unit change. It happens as excess CO2 is dissolved in the ocean waters, creating carbonic acid. Ocean life isn’t yet being eaten away by the acid. But the change will impede growth of coral, which is already under stress from warmer waters, and will make it harder for other organisms to form their shells and skeletons.

Solar power of the future? It’s in the bag

Danny Fortson

Roy Bedlow has the world’s most expensive man-bag: about $100m (£60m) all in. The high cost isn’t in the leather, but in a flimsy solar panel on the flap that is powerful enough to charge his BlackBerry.
G24 Innovations, the Welsh firm where Bedlow is head of marketing, has spent the past five years perfecting organic dyes that generate electric currents when exposed to light. The dye is injected into a special foil that is malleable enough to be put into fabric.
Six weeks ago G24 made its first shipment to a Hong Kong bag maker, which will integrate the panels into a range of its laptop carriers and backpacks. For Bedlow, former European head at Palm, the handset maker, the real work is only now beginning. “I have to take a science project and make it a business,” he said.
It has been a long journey. The technology was developed in 1988 by Michael Graetzel, a Swiss chemist. The problem was how to make a business out of it. Graetzel’s dye is not as efficient as traditional solar cells. The big difference, however, is that as a liquid it need not be housed in rigid panels like most other solar technologies and it works in indoor, low-light conditions.
G24 formed in 2004 and has already burnt through most of the $100m it raised from investors including Morgan Stanley, 4Rae and Renewable Capital. It acquired the global rights to Graetzel’s technology and built a state-of-the-art assembly line in Cardiff, where it injects the dyes into kilometre-long strips of foil that can be cut into any shape and size.
There remains plenty of room for improvement, though. The panel on the front of Bedlow’s bag, about half the size of an A4 sheet of paper, feeds a small battery that has a charging input. For power-hungry devices such as a BlackBerry or iPhone, it takes up to a day-and-a-half to charge fully. “The power output needs to increase and the price needs to decrease,” said Bedlow. “That’s what will move this from being a ‘nice-to-have’ to essential.”
To do that G24 needs money. The executive team splits its time between Wales and California’s Silicon Valley, where it set up a corporate headquarters last year to be closer to the region’s venture capitalists. Bedlow doesn’t expect the company to turn a profit until 2013. It needs cash to tide it over until then.
Meanwhile, big rivals are wading in. Swatch, the Swiss watch maker, plans to launch a dye-powered piece and Sony is looking at developing the technology for personal electronics.
G24 is in talks with a big computer maker interested in integrating the panels into its laptops and desktops. “We can’t power a computer at this point but we can power standby,” he said. “That’s 8% of UK power consumption.”

Water, the new green worry

China’s woes on water have highlighted a another threat for business to solve
Danny Fortson

Bo Gang, an energetic executive with rimless glasses and a Clark Kent haircut, gestured towards a valley shrouded in fog. “There’s the river,” he said, pointing to the grey murk on the outskirts of the city of Chongqing. “Five years ago it was bad. Now it is much better, you can tell by the colour of the water. The government has made big efforts.”
Bo runs the most advanced sewage treatment plant in China and is proud of it. His wall is adorned with pictures of Wen Jiabao, the prime minister, surveying the sludge tanks. He dotes on the gardens, irrigated with reclaimed waste water.
The plant, however, is only a small victory. Every year more than 53 billion tonnes of untreated industrial and household sewage pour into China’s watercourses, according to the World Bank.
Besides the catastrophic environmental effects, toxic water threatens public health and economic growth. That has caught the government’s attention. In its 11th five-year plan it has pledged 1.35% of Chinese GDP, about £125 billion, to environmental investment.

In Chongqing, a city of 28m people that sits astride the Yangtze river, the problems are acute. They are also instructive, say industry experts, who predict that what the authorities are grappling with — water quality, scarcity, competition for access between industry and the public — are a glimpse of a disaster that is silently gathering momentum.
In a recent report McKinsey, the consultant, predicted a serious shortfall of fresh water by 2030 unless drastic action is taken now.
“The tragedy of water is that for too long we have taken it for granted,” said Piet Klop, head of capital markets at the World Resources Institute, a Washington DC think tank.
“People ask me if water is the next oil. If only it were. At least then if would have a price that reflects its true value. There is no way out of this pickle unless we put a real price on water. The business world is just starting to wake up to this.”
Indeed. In New Mexico the state government has begun paying farmers not to irrigate their land because the level of the Rio Grande fell to the point that the silvery minnow, a fish the size of a little finger, was in danger of extinction.
The Pennsylvania state government recently launched a scheme that awards factories and power plants with water-use “reduction credits” as part of its efforts to clean up the damaged Chesapeake Bay.
Last month the Carbon Disclosure Project, one of the pioneers of the movement to get big companies to calculate and publish their carbon footprints, launched a similar effort on water. Marcus Norton, director of the project, said: “This was very much investor-led. More and more were coming to us saying that this was becoming an issue for them.”
Totting up water footprints is one thing. For China, ensuring safe and plentiful supplies is an economic necessity.
“They are where Europe was 30 years ago, but they will catch up much faster,” said Jean-Marc Boursier, finance director of Suez Environement, the French water group that runs several concessions in the country, including the Chongqing sewage plant. “When the state decides to do something, things happen very quickly.”
China’s case may be more extreme than in other parts of the world but the challenges are the same. Urbanisation is one of these. Every day more than 275,000 Chinese leave the countryside to move to cities. Chongqing, a dreary jungle of tower blocks and nondescript factories, is growing faster than any other city.
The mass migration is a logistical nightmare, equivalent to a third of Britain relocating every year. Zhu Shucai, the plant manager of Chongqing’s Sino French Water, said demand has grown by an average of 14% a year. Demand in most cities in Europe, by contrast, doesn’t change much because we have water conservation schemes.
Chongqing draws its drinking water from a tributary of the Yangtze. Cleaning up the river is critical. It snakes 6,300km from the Tibetan plateau, feeding other big population centres such as Nanjing and Shanghai. Since the giant Three Gorges dam was finished last year, water flow upstream has slowed, which allows pollutants to gather.
The government has forced wholesale relocations of polluting industries away from the banks of the Yangtze. “Many of the big plants, like ones producing pesticides, have disappeared,” said Zhu. “We don’t know where they went, but it has helped with water quality.”
There is still much to do. Today more than half of China’s 1.3 billion people don’t have access to quality drinking water. They use only a quarter of the water we do in Britain. What will happen to an infrastructure already overstretched as the country’s economic engine pulls millions more into the middle class?
“The Chinese are playing catch-up but they are taking it very seriously. It’s a big opportunity [for western companies],” said Boursier. Today Suez and its rival Veolia Environement are virtually the only foreign operators in water and waste treatment, though rivals from America and Europe are elbowing their way in.
They are all at the sharp end of a larger, fundamental reshaping of how water is used, treated and paid for.
Mike Walsh, executive vice-president of the Chicago Climate Exchange, the carbon trading market, said it was only a matter of time before water rights were traded like carbon and oil are today. “It has to,” he said. “Right now water has a price. It’s zero, so it’s a free for all. Take as much as you want, pollute as much as you want. That has to change — and it will.”

Crunch time for clean energy

The recession has cut low-carbon funding and piled pressure on Copenhagen

Mark Newham

International plans to combat global warming by switching to low-carbon energy technology have been handicapped by the world financial crisis, according to new figures seen by The Sunday Times.
The data will be worrying for world leaders who tomorrow begin nearly two weeks of talks in Copenhagen to hammer out a new global agreement to cut carbon emissions.
According to New Energy Finance (NEF), the research firm, funding for clean energy schemes this year will fall to $125 billion (£75 billion), down nearly a fifth from last year. The drop ends seven years of growth in which global low-carbon funding soared from $22 billion in 2002 to $155 billion last year. The decrease would have been even greater had the world’s governments not stepped in to support the sector with billions in economic stimulus cash.
The fall creates a worrying scenario. In a report to the United Nations, NEF said that $500 billion a year needs to be invested in clean energy schemes by 2020, rising to some $590 billion annually by 2030, if carbon dioxide output is to be capped at 450 parts per million. Scientists say that if atmospheric carbon exceeds this level, there will be catastrophic environmental consequences.
The low-carbon sector was doing well until the credit crunch struck in 2007. Up to that point investment in green companies and projects was growing at an annual average of 60%. The reversal of fortunes underlines the need for political leaders to produce a new global warming treaty to succeed the Kyoto protocol after it expires in 2012.
The two biggest polluters, America and China, did not sign up to the Kyoto protocol. This time they have made a public commitment to set binding pollution reduction targets and claim to support carbon cap and trade schemes.
However, a definitive deal is not expected at Copenhagen and businesses fear that the policy vacuum could weaken the sector. Recent claims that the director of the influential Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia may have manipulated data have further damaged sentiment.
Public money is already playing a significant role in propping up the sector. The International Energy Agency said: “Without the stimulus provided by government fiscal packages, renewable [energy] investment would have fallen [from the 2008 level] by almost 30%.”
In the short term, more government cash will be needed.
A survey by the UK’s Renewable Energy Association found that more than 75% of its members were having difficulty getting loans and new equity, putting projects and green-energy jobs at risk.
Venture capital and private equity firms are sitting on hundreds of billions they raised in the boom years but have been slow to invest it while the overall state of the economy remains shaky. Tom Murley, chairman of the British Venture Capital Association’s energy, environment and technology group, said the group’s 10 member firms had a combined pot of £10 billion to spend.
The lack of money in the rest of the market means they have the pick of the deals. “The world’s governments are beginning to show sincere commitment towards ensuring a low-carbon, energy-secure future,” he said. “We remain bullish.”
On a global scale, however, the industry has taken a step back and is farther from NEF’s goal of $500 billion in annual investment than it was a year ago.
Green Idea: Car skin generates its own electricity
A professor has come up with a way for cars to generate electricity from the wind. Yiannis Andreopoulos at City College of New York has invented a polymer device that he said can be embedded in the body of a car or plane and will generate a current from turbulence in the air. A car could, in theory, be covered in the paper-thin material. The device will have to get better, however. The first one-inch by one-inch model generated a mere 40 volts.

Renewables to supply one-third China's energy by 2050

Reuters, Sunday December 6 2009
BEIJING, Dec 6 (Reuters) - China's renewable energy strategy through 2050 envisions renewable energy making up one-third of its energy consumption by then, the China Daily said, as the upcoming Copenhagen conference on climate change highlights the world's dependence on fossil fuels.
Coal-dependent China, the world's biggest greenhouse gas emitter, last month said it would cut the amount of carbon dioxide produced for each yuan of national income by 40-45 percent by 2020, compared to 2005 levels.
Depending on economic growth projections, total emissions will still rise.
By 2020, renewable energy should account for 15 percent of national primary energy consumption, supplying the equivalent of 600 million tonnes of coal, the China Daily said this weekend.
It cited a renewable energy blueprint laid out by Han Wenke, director-general of the Energy Research Institute under top planning body, the National Development and Reform Commission.
By 2030, renewable energy's share should rise to 20 percent of the national energy mix, displacing 1 billion tonnes of coal, Han said, and by 2050, it would supply one-third of China's energy, displacing two billion tonnes of coal, the paper said.
China's drive for renewable energy to mitigate the health and environmental costs of coal has brought its own challenges.
Wind power generating capacity has surged so fast that policy planners now warn of severe overcapacity in the sector, and dam after dam piled on Chinese rivers distorts water flow, endangers fish and poses a potential earthquake hazard.
China's installed wind power capacity is now 12.17 million kilowatts, up from 350,000 kw in 2000, and large-scale solar energy facilities are planned, the paper said.
China is focusing on non-grain bioethanol and biodiesel, to avoid diverting grains from food and feed supply. (Reporting by Lucy Hornby; Editing by Jerry Norton)

Carbon credits bring Lakshmi Mittal £1bn bonanza

Jonathan Leake and Bojan Pancevski

LAKSHMI MITTAL, Britain’s richest man, stands to benefit from a £1 billion windfall from a European scheme to curb global warming. His company ArcelorMittal, the steel business where he is chairman and chief executive, will make the gain on “carbon credits” given to it under the European emissions trading scheme (ETS).
The scheme grants companies permits to emit CO2 up to a specified “cap”. Beyond this they must buy extra permits. An investigation has revealed that ArcelorMittal has been given far more carbon permits than it needs. It has the largest allocation of any organisation in Europe.
The investigation has also shown that ArcelorMittal and Eurofer, which represents European steel makers at European level, have lobbied intensively in Brussels. This has included threatening to move plants out of Europe at a cost of 90,000 jobs, and asking European commissioners to meet Mittal.
ArcelorMittal is now free to sell its surplus permits on the market or to hoard them for future use. The latter would allow it to avoid cutting greenhouse gas emissions for years, effectively undermining the point of the scheme.
Either way, the company will have gained assets worth around £1 billion by 2012. The eventual value could be much greater. Each carbon permit is currently worth about £12.70 but the European Union has said it wants to drive this price above £30.
The disclosure comes on the eve of the Copenhagen climate conference, whose main aim is to extend schemes such as the ETS into a global system for trading carbon.
Details emerged from an analysis of the community independent transaction log, the EU system for logging the carbon permits issued to factories and power stations covered by the scheme in Europe.
Anna Pearson, an expert on the ETS who carried out the analysis, said: “Between 2008 and 2012 ArcelorMittal stands to gain assets worth £1 billion at today’s prices for scant effort. For them, the ETS has been turned into a system for generating free subsidies.”
ArcelorMittal, which is based in Luxembourg and has more than 80 steel plants around Europe, has confirmed Pearson’s figures. The ETS covers 10,000 industrial installations, responsible for 40% of the EU’s greenhouse gas emissions.
“Following intense lobbying and claims that the scheme would harm business, the cap on emissions was set too high and too many permits were issued,” said Pearson, who performed her analysis for Sandbag, which campaigns to improve carbon trading.
ArcelorMittal was given the right to emit 90m tonnes of CO2 each year from its plants in the EU from 2008 to 2012. However, the company emitted just 68m tonnes last year. That was partly due to the recession, but Pearson believes its allocation of 90m was already too generous. This year ArcelorMittal’s emissions are predicted to plummet to 43m tonnes.
A spokesman for the company said: “The extra surplus arose when actual steel production fell way below forecasts because of the unexpected global economic crisis. As the world returns to growth, we expect to use them up.”
However, Pearson estimates that by 2012 the company will have accumulated surplus permits for 80m tonnes of CO2 — equivalent to the pollution generated annually by the whole of Denmark.
Details of ArcelorMittal’s lobbying emerged from freedom of information requests made by Corporate Observatory Europe to the European commission. They include two letters from Mittal himself, in December 2006 and April 2007, requesting meetings with Günter Verheugen, the commissioner for enterprise and industry, and Stavros Dimas, the environment commissioner.
In another, in January 2008, ArcelorMittal threatened to relocate if made to pay for carbon certificates.
The business is 43% owned by Mittal, who tops The Sunday Times Rich List with a fortune of £10.8 billion. He lives in a Kensington mansion bought for £70m in 2003.
The revelations support the criticisms of carbon trading by Professor Jim Hansen, director of Nasa’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, who supports the alternative idea of a direct tax on carbon. He said: “The corporates see emissions trading as a huge opportunity to boost profits.”
Pearson said she had written to Mittal on behalf of Sandbag asking if ArcelorMittal would “retire” the carbon permits — meaning they could not be used by anyone else.
“If the company were to rip these up it would be a great act of philanthropy and set an excellent example,” she said.
An ArcelorMittal spokesman said: “ArcelorMittal’s surplus carbon credits are an asset which will only grow in importance,” he said.