BOOK REVIEW – After the Texans: A racy carbon trading thriller

Published 17:53 on November 25, 2016  /  Last updated at 23:34 on November 23, 2022  / Ben Garside /  Bavardage, Contributed Content, International, Nature-based, Other Content, Voluntary

A Black Friday special review of After The Texans, the second novel in the Carbon Black trilogy from Declan Milling.

A Black Friday special review of After The Texans, the second novel in the Carbon Black trilogy from Declan Milling.

Set at the end of this decade, the Carbon Black series is a work of fiction revolving around a fragmented global carbon market built around bilateral agreements and overseen by the UN’s newly-formed Global Carbon Market Association (GCMA).

Our hero is Emil Pfeffer, the GCMO’s slightly-jaded director of market integrity who moves in a world of slightly-too-familiar industry conferences (‘C-World’), anti-carbon market protestors and tedious high-level diplomatic speeches.

Pfeffer had his cosy existence turned upside-down in the first novel, also titled Carbon Black, when he exposed a corrupt government in Papua New Guinea and its attempt to sell one of the first REDD projects. Pfeffer turned from pencil-pushing bureaucrat into a full-blown action hero in his desperate efforts to track down sinister carbon cowboys and shadowy Swiss financiers, all out to make a fast buck out of a weak government and unsuspecting green-minded citizens.

The second novel follows immediately on from that and packs in a similar amount of violence, suspense and government incompetence. This time, Milling’s focus is turned firmly on Australia with it’s not-so-far-fetched plans for a massive coal-exporting terminal, and the novel centres around a government held to ransom by an unwieldy investor-state dispute settlement.

Again the plot is wholly fictional, but the red flags raised about the risks of putting a price on emissions are of the sort that have been reported frequently in Carbon Pulse’s coverage of REDD integrity and carbon crimes (with France’s ‘crime of the century’ a scarcely-believable plotline in itself). Here, the risks of trade dispute settlements flagged by some legal experts in the nascent Trans-Pacific Partnership are played out in full by Milling in After the Texans.

The author keeps the pace high and, as an Australian environmental lawyer of over 30 years experience, clearly has a deep insider knowledge of his subject matter. This makes the novels a compelling read for anyone involved in the field and is gripping enough to draw in those that don’t.

It all makes for an insightful page-turner that left this reviewer with plenty of ‘why didn’t I think of that’ pangs. Milling is not the first carbon market professional to turn his hand to fiction, with the release of Ronald Stone’s Waterford earlier this year also providing a handy tool for anyone keen to assuage a bout of eco-rage.

After the Texans and Carbon Black, as well as Waterford, are available now from various online retailers.

By Ben Garside –