Carbon Trading and Water Crisis
By Dr Arvind Kumar
Tina Rosenberg in a recent article in New York Times has argued that one of the best ways to ensure that the world’s poorest have access to water is through carbon trading. So, for a while, multinational-led water privatization was promoted as the solution, with these companies leveraging the financing for building and maintaining the water infrastructure. However, ‘for-profit water multinationals’ have been critiqued “for the way they treat rural people and slum dwellers.” In the absence of water infrastructure, Rosenberg tells about ‘Life Straw’ an instant micro-biological water purifier, as a ‘point-of-use water purification system that can filter up to 18,000 liters of water; which is estimated to last for about three years (at the rate of 16.43 liters of purified drinking water per day). Point-of-use water purifiers have been called more effective compared to cleaning the original water source, especially when it comes to poorer environments.
Vestergaard Frandsen, the company that developed LifeStraw, plans to provide the technology at no cost to water poor people. The company plans to raise money by charging those who emit greenhouse gases (GHG) in exchange for an allowance of GHG emissions, or put in simpler words, in exchange for an allowance to pollute more. While asserting that technologies like LifeStraw may be necessary in water-stressed situations, Shiney Varghese opines that it would be misplaced to fund them through carbon trading. In order for carbon markets to function, there is, first, the need to create a demand for carbon credits.