One of the key figures in the negotiations on the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) – which met again in Bangkok in April – is Harald Dovland. He’s the appointed chair of the (now take a deep breath...) Ad-Hoc-Working-Group-on-Further-Commitments-for-Annex-I-Parties-under-the-Kyoto-Protocol, otherwise known as the AWG.

For 12 years, Mr Dovland headed up Norway's climate negotiations team. Nowadays he works in the private sector, for international consulting and engineering firm, Poyry plc. His branch publishes the Global Carbon Report which helps ‘market observers, analysts, policy makers and carbon market professionals in finance, energy and carbon-intensive industries’ understand and exploit ‘carbon markets’. And just to be clear about their orientation, an article on their website about the outcomes of last year’s Bali climate change conference draws the controversial conclusion that ‘carbon trading is instrumental to achieve sufficient [greenhouse gas] reduction’.

Others see carbon trading quite differently, as a way for corporations to continue their harmful business as usual. In the words of research and activist group Carbon Trade Watch, the growing international carbon market is ‘polluters successfully turning the potential threat of climate change into an opportunity for profit’.

Mr Dovland is clearly highly appreciated by his AWG colleagues, but it does seem rather strange that one of the most important negotiating forums on climate change is under the gavel of an employee of a firm which makes money out of promoting carbon trading.

Nicola Bullard