You don’t say.

Trade in permits to pollute is “largely pointless” when compared with the scale of growth in greenhouse gases in China and must be scaled up, one of the carbon market’s most senior traders said on Monday.

Countries and companies in the developed world can buy emissions rights by investing in carbon cuts in developing nations, under a Kyoto scheme called the clean development mechanism (CDM) meant to cut the cost of fighting climate change.

But those cuts were tiny compared with rises in the world’s top emitter, said Garth Edward, head of emissions trading at Citigroup, and formerly head of trading at Shell.

“The CDM in China is largely pointless as far as reducing its emissions trajectory,” he said.

Of course, all of this amounts to doodley squat without China.

Coincidentally…China revealed its long-awaited plan for curbing its voracious consumption of fossil fuels, which has made it the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases on the planet. This was treated as a welcome breakthrough, evidence of China’s growing responsibility, proof that Beijing is willing to do its bit to save the planet.

So what’s the big breakthrough? China says it will adopt a program to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide emitted per unit of economic output by 40 to 45 percent by 2020, compared with 2005 levels.

Ta-da!

The thing is, what China is offering is a reduction in carbon intensity, not in actual emissions. When Canada’s Conservatives adopted an plan based on intensity — as a means to avoid crippling Alberta’s economy and side-swiping Canada’s in the process — it was ridiculed and denounced by the usual activists, dismissed as a climate change denier.

 Imagine that! Fossil-Award-winning Canada actually has a good idea.

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