Copenhagen does not go far enough


10:24 am - December 7th 2009

by Rupert Read    


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There has been a lot of critical reaction to James Hansen’s modest and reasonable callfor a junking of the current Copenhagen negotiations in favour of something else that would actually effectually address the climate emergency that we now face.

Most of those reacting negatively to this key intervention from the leading voice of contemporary policy-engaged climate-science don’t appear to ‘get’ the very good reasons why James Hansen of NASA has said that a mediocre agreement at Copenhagen – which is all that we could possibly get now – would be worse than no agreement at all.

The ‘solutions’ on offer at Copenhagen are almost exclusively based around carbon offsets and carbon trading. These would make no meaningful contribution toward tackling the climate crisis for all sorts of reasons (a superb inventory of why can be found at The Corner House, but most crucially because they would mean that, just like with Kyoto, there is no ‘hard’ cap on total emissions.

A carbon trading system that allows offsets against emissions that allegedly would have happened without the system being in place, even if it works, offers no guarantee at all that overall emissions will fall, let alone fall at the rate that they need to fall at if we are to have a chance of keeping the world to within 2 degrees of over-heat.

Thus it may in one important respect be serendipitous that the Copenhagen talks seem in any case likely to fail.

The CRU hack at the University of East Anglia may even have a silver lining.

For, though it is utterly ludicrous to claim that the ‘revelations’ from these illegally-hacked emails cast any substantive doubt over the facts and the science of global over-heat (see this and this), nevertheless we can (ironically) be grateful to the deluded hacker if his/her actions undermine the prospects of a useless agreement emerging at Copenhagen.

A pretence of effective action is worse than no action at all. So it is time to Seattleise Copenhagen.

Rather than pursuing the chimera of an agreement based on carbon trading, it is time to fight for an agreement that would actually be worth having, such as for instance the ‘cap and dividend’ scheme recommended by Hansen, which includes a ‘hard’ cap. Whether on the streets or on the laptops and phones, we should all do our best to bring the talks next week to a standstill, rather than allow our leaders to sign up to an agreement which offers only the shadow, and not any substance, of securing our common future against climate chaos.

After The Wave yesterday in London, I helped the impressive folk of Climate Camp set up their protest-camp in Trafalgar Square.

They are among the voices now openly joining Hansen and Naomi Klein and the New Internationalist co-operative and more each day in saying that we must seize the opportunity of Copenhagen – to create a true and successful climate justice movement, just as Seattle was a key moment in the emergence of a successful global justice movement, a decade ago.

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About the author
This is a guest post. Rupert Read is a Green Party councillor and ran as a MEP candidate in Eastern region in 2009. He blogs at Rupert's Read and Comment is free
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Reader comments


1. Dick the Prick

Or alternatively – fudge it and forget about it.

I agree with the Prick – everyone’s admitted it can’t achieve anything, so rather than “fight” to make it achieve something (how?) we should scrap it and conserve our energy to try again some other time.

I somewhat despair at the lack of campaign awareness involved in thinking failure beats an imperfect deal.

When campaigning for an end goal, smart campaigns do not start by demanding that goal. They start by demanding something much smaller and less significant using the same logic that will eventually be used to justify the end goal.

So the anti-smoking lobby has not generally gone around seeking a ban on tobacco. (Not since before the first world war anyway).

Instead it sought warnings on packets because that would save lives. Then it sought and ad ban. Then to raise the age limit, ban smoking in public, to put graphic images on packets, and now to ban the display of cigarettes in shops.

And the reason that works is that once people have been swayed by a logic, even for something fairly small, they buy into that cause to some small degree. Carrying them along is then much easier than getting them on board. So the trick is to get people engaged and to invest their own views in an argument.

And so to climate change. Kyoto failed not because countries didn’t stick to it, but because it was far far too ambitious for a first move. As such countries like America and China never signed up. And as such the public there was never engaged in the arguments for limited climate change measures enough to win round to fuller measures now.

Making the same mistake now would be a tragedy.

Though we could of course just commit genocide…

http://politicsrules.wordpress.com/2009/11/26/%e2%80%98final-solution%e2%80%99-to-climate-change-agreed/

oh yes brilliant – tear up the process that exists and various countries have made various degrees of progress along, in favour of some il-defined notion that people as grounded in reality as Naomi Klein can devise. Ever heard the phrase “the perfect is the enemy of the good”?

just as Seattle was a key moment in the emergence of a successful global justice movement, a decade ago

HAH AHA HAHHA

I think we need action on climate that’s a trifle more “successful” than the “global justice movement”

I’m with Luis. Sorry, Rupert, collapse and failure isn’t something we should be arguing for. I’m sure Hansen’s hoping for more, not less, too.

Let’s be honest: stop trying to kid yourselves, Copenhagen will achieve nothing. The inherent hypocrisy of all these world leaders flying (FUCKING FLYING) to one place to sit in a room and talk endlessly about how something must be done, and the huge amount of energy expended in doing so, meant that COP15 was always going to be shit and non-achieving. At least Obama admitted as such beforehand: the only honest person on the world stage, despite his lack of overall leadership skill.

8. Dick the Prick

Just as an aside – apparently there’s 50,000 delegates there – 192 countries which works out at about 260 delegates per country (granted, other orgs will be a massive sector) but err… don’t we have video conferencing these days, live blogs, crackberries, cameras etc? Doesn’t it all seem rather vulgar? I smell an Australian rat and am not fully prepared to have it for brekkie.

cjcjc @ 7.

Yes that’s him. And this is the same Rupert:

http://www.liberalconspiracy.org/2009/12/03/re-tuning-the-environmental-movement/

We need to move onto a war footing, if we are going to win the climate war. So we should take inspiration from how World War Two was won: partly through technology, and partly through awesome behaviour change, very swiftly achieved. For example, food rationing and a
huge increase in home-vegetable growing and other resilience-creating actions.

But he doesn’t explore all possibilities. There are loads of other resilience-creating actions I can think of. For instance, being hung upside down in a tank of ice-cold water. It worked for me.

And as for “awesome behaviour change”. Stalin and Pol Pot had some good ideas too.

Dick the Prick.@ 8. But they all went on wind-powered transport, like Sunny H does when he goes to California or India. They have got consciences, you know. Not like us.

cjcjc,

Did you read the comments below Oliver Kamms’ piece? Nobody agreed with him.

John Booth

It will achieve something. In fact it has achieved something. A new European position on cutting emissions has emerged from this. The pressure for a deal also helped progressives in the US push through a domestic commitment on cutting emissions. China has done likewise, and a lot of other countries have as well.

It has also raised massively the awareness of our need to fund greener development in the developing world – to avoid their rise from poverty adding to emissions.

What it hasn’t achieved and what it was never going to achieve, was everything.

But it has added to momentum, bought more countries into the process, and that in itself is a success that Kyoto failed on by being too ambitious. Hence we are stuck still trying to get the first steps right, like including China and America.

It is an … ‘unusual’ point of view to claim that Kyoto was too ambitious. Kyoto was in fact desperately under-ambitious. But, and this is the crucial point unaddressed so far in any of these comments, even if Kyoto had worked completely on its own terms, it would have done relatively little good. The same goes for the carbon-trading plans at the heart of the Copenhagen negotiations. Because a system of carbon-trading and carbon-offsets includes no hard cap, and is open to systematic abuses.
If you want to understand why, please read Larry Lohmann’s stuff at The Corner House.
The Kyoto-Copenhagen game isn’t worth the candle.

Rupert is right – Copenhagen will be even worse than Kyoto, keeping in the bad aspects – the offsets, and ditching the good one – the binding carbon reduction targets, replacing them with voluntary ones.

I’m glad Hansen has now come out in favour of Cap and Dividend rather than a carbon tax – it will be much easier to sell to the public, and guarantees that reduction targets will actually be met.

The irony of all this is that, far from being a sacrifice, cutting carbon would make us both happier and healthier, and in a better position economically through reducing dependence on increasingly expensive fossil fuels

Chris Keene (now in Copenhagen having cycled from Wales zerocarboncaravan.blogspot.com)

‘We need to move onto a war footing, if we are going to win the climate war. ‘

In reality, we are not going to be on a war footing until such time as the climate invades Poland.

Now is the time for building battleships, Spitfire factories, inventing radar, and above all forming alliances. Some volunteers can go fight in Spain if they want, but don’t expect too much from that front.

We could get lucky and that will be enough in itself, in the way just forming NATO arguably was enough to stop Stalin.

Rupert Reed #12

For a quick understanding of why Kyoto was too ambitious – read my comment #3.

And put simply again – it was too ambitious for a first step in the campaign.

The first step is always about getting everyone (or almost everyone) signed up to the basic logic that will be used to justify future steps. In Kyoto that meant having a weak enough deal that all the major players could accept it.

The next step is to build on the investment in that logic that people have already made.

Kyoto failed in what should have been it’s one and only aim – to get every major nation invested in the logic of taking action.

It tried to do more than that and so failed that basic step.

The Copenhagen deal is thus another attempt at the first step in the campaign – and this time it seems to be working.

Chris Keene

“The irony of all this is that, far from being a sacrifice, cutting carbon would make us both happier and healthier, and in a better position economically through reducing dependence on increasingly expensive fossil fuels.”

Spot on – but this is the problem – Kyoto failed so badly that the two largest polluters today – they who produce more emissions than the rest of the world combined – havn’t bought into that logic.

Their politics has not adjusted to that, and their public have not bought into that logic.

The reason for that is because Kyoto failed to get them invested in what is basically a very sound argument. And it failed because it was far too ambitious for countries like America to agree to.

So we have to try to start again. It is frustrating in europe where our nations, our governments, and our people have by and large bought into this logic already. But imagine saying to the UK in 1985 that we need an international cap and dividend structure for our carbon emissions.

You’d have been ignored.

17. Luis Enrique

soru @ 14 That was good. Really.
All this is so boring already though isn’t it?

You (one) can only keep up enthuisasm for an ideal, whether it’s WW2, or Iraq or the cultural revolution in China for so long, before it’s natural supporters start to flag and wilt.
I don’t want to even read one Guardian article about the Copenhagen summit.
No one in south east Asia (where I am) is at all interested.

I’m minded (as someone without the tinest of scientific knowledge) to just give up on all this talk, and end up agreeing with Michael Portillo who suggests that many scientists have been compromised by their becoming embraced by an idealogy and culture that is most commonplace in the media

I know that the magazine ”Spiked-online” is totally discredited around most liberal opinion, but they wrote three articles on carbon and Copenhagen today, and they make fair reading (in my opinion).
For those of us who don’t understand science.
http://www.spiked-online.com/index.php/site/article/7806/

Damon

The article you link to is very weak. It seems to be targeted at people who know very little about science and rather than help them understand, just plays on their ignorance.

For example

“Of the dozen or so factors influencing climate, for one candidate to emerge as dominant we would need to discount the effects of others.”

That’s just a lie. To prove one candidate is dominant we would only need to prove it played the most significant role – not that the others played no role.

More importantly though – we don’t need to prove man is the dominent factor – just the one that has sent the climate out of balance while the others maintained a relative constant.

Both of which have been done thanks to no end of good scientific data.

Be wary of any article that seeks to simplify science with generalisations – they are usualy lying to the ignorant.

20. Shatterface

‘I know that the magazine ”Spiked-online” is totally discredited around most liberal opinion, but they wrote three articles on carbon and Copenhagen today, and they make fair reading (in my opinion).
For those of us who don’t understand science.’

They must find their climate change skepticism hard to reconcile with their ‘never criticise China’ philosophy though, now that China has agreed to reduce carbon emissions. Mind you they’ve never had a problem sticking up for liberties in the UK while denying them to Tibetans.

Oh, and Harry’s Place has joined the scepticism camp now they’ve decided AGW it a Trot conspiracy.

The CRU emails have unleashed the unhinged.

Agree that Emission trading (Cap and Trade) does not work…

The “No Goldilocks Solution”,
as we have seen in the EU where the problem with carbon prices is they
are either too low and so cheap and meaningless as in recession times,
or too high to lead to any reduction at other times, when evasive
action for example involves paying off third world emitters (who
according to a recent Economist article can simply be set up to rake
in cash ie would not be emitting otherwise), or tree planting
exercises of dubious effect, which may in any case be fast growing
non-native trees which changes local ecosystems.

An artificial market will always be an artificial market.

________________________

Understanding Emission Trading (Cap and Trade)
http://ceolas.net/#cce5x
Basic Idea
Offsets — Tree Planting — Manufacture Shift — Fair Trading
Allowances: Auctions + Hand-Outs — Allowance Trading
Companies: Business Stability + Cost
In Conclusion

Agree that Emission trading (Cap and Trade) does not work…

The “No Goldilocks Solution”,
as we have seen in the EU where the problem with carbon prices is they
are either too low and so cheap and meaningless as in recession times,
or too high to lead to any reduction at other times, when evasive
action for example involves paying off third world emitters (who
according to a recent Economist article can simply be set up to rake
in cash ie would not be emitting otherwise), or tree planting
exercises of dubious effect, which may in any case be fast growing
non-native trees which changes local ecosystems.

An artificial market will always be an artificial market.

________________________

Understanding Emission Trading (Cap and Trade)
ceolas.net/#cce5x
Basic Idea
Offsets — Tree Planting — Manufacture Shift — Fair Trading
Allowances: Auctions + Hand-Outs — Allowance Trading
Companies: Business Stability + Cost
In Conclusion

Actually,
it doesn’t matter at this time whether CO2 emissions need to be reduced or not.

Changes in electricity and transport (80% of CO2 emissions) should be
done anyway,
for very different advantages,
including electricity bills that are lowered from opening up
electricity grids to competition,
and smart meters can be set to automatically give the cheapest (and/or
greenest) electricity at any time,
which might also be powering some cars
ceolas.net/#di1x

The simple focus on the largely local electricity and transport sectors,
ceolas.net/#cc1x
avoids expensive meaningless emission trading (cap and trade) with its
loopholes,
avoids international tension arising out of trade with less regulated countries,
avoids alienating people by telling them what Light Bulbs or TV sets
they can or cannot use,
and easily meets 2020/2030 emission targets.

In 2020/2030 – if CO2 reduction is still seen as warranted – other
industries can be involved.

Otherwise, nothing has been lost.

Chris Keene: “The irony of all this is that, far from being a sacrifice, cutting carbon would make us both happier and healthier, and in a better position economically through reducing dependence on increasingly expensive fossil fuels”

I’m lost. What is the evidence that human happiness and health is affected by global CO2? Given that half of the planet is unaware that the issue exists, this is improbable. Most of them would simply like to own a fridge (a CO2 cost).

The world is dependent on “increasingly expensive fossil fuels” because they are cheaper than the alternatives. The word “economically” is literally vital too. Alternative fuel has to be as cheap as fossil (adjusted for efficiencies etc) in order to maintain quality of life.

But burning fossil fuels sensibly gives us the chance to develop alternatives. And I use the word “sensibly” in a deliberate fashion, because even when we get cheap renewable energy, coal and oil will still be essential resources. Wasting those resources is dumb, just as much as subsidising inner city micro energy production.

@22 Peter Dublin: “Actually,
it doesn’t matter at this time whether CO2 emissions need to be reduced or not.”

Thirty years ago, the majority of electricity usage was consumed during the industrial working day; by factories, small workshops, shops. Today, peak electricity usage is in the early evening from TVs, kettles and ovens. Switching electricity supplier will make no difference, aside from equalising domestic electricity price rates. It will make no difference for charging electric cars overnight because there is insufficient supply than for a few more milk floats.

Micro energy production is sensible for those who are remote from the central distribution networks. When you strip away the subsidies, it is economically and environmentally idiotic for most people in towns and cities to experiment in micro generation. There are exceptions (ground heat pumps for new development) when you can get economy of scale, and scale is more environmentally important than idealism.

@23 : Chris K. is referring to the many ways in which CO2 reduction strategies ‘coincide’ with changes that will bring us a better life anyway:
E.g. Promoting localisation and lower carbon travel will not only reduce CO2, but also produce stronger communities, a higher likelihood of knowing one’s neighbours, better fitness and health, better tastier more reliable food, less pollution, etc etc.

@ Rupert

So you assert CO2 reduction measures will mean I will have a higher likelihood of knowing my neighbours

What if I already know my neighbours and I can’t stand the tossers?

Carbon trading has totally failed so we need to be arguing for something that works.

The clean development mechanism is increasing environmental damage.

Carbon trading has made a lot of cash for the city but has failed to reduce emissions.

more of my thoughts here on an alternative http://another-green-world.blogspot.com/2009/12/copenhagen-no-nonsense-guide.html

What is “reliable food”?

Does it keep you regular?

I agree with Margin4Error

I find Rupert Read’s argument unconvincing, especially “Thus it may in one important respect be serendipitous that the Copenhagen talks seem in any case likely to fail”.

I have no problem with the idea of pushing for more, and indeed different, at Copenhagen. But I find any argument which goes into a different category that it would be better for the talks to fail really unconvincing, and a gift to the oppose everything lobby.

Sunny H was arguing that he was increasingly persuaded that it would be better for the talks to fail on twitter on Sunday night. It seems to me obvious that this would prove an enormous setback to crucial domestic political debates, such as those in the US and in Australia, and among the Chinese governing elite, which are vitally important if a binding treaty which does enough for emission cuts (aiming at a 2 degree rise) and very large scale development assistance for climate

– For that to get off the ground, I would really want to see a sensible strategy which could credibly recover a similar (and higher) level of diplomatic and multilateral engagement within the next 12-24 months, and the timescale for a binding Treaty which would result from that, and how, when and at what level that could see emissions peak by the middle of the next decade.

– The idea of endorsing progress, pushing for content of best possible deal, in addition to arguing if and where it fall shorts seems to me the only sensible and effective strategy.

“The irony of all this is that, far from being a sacrifice, cutting carbon would make us both happier and healthier, and in a better position economically through reducing dependence on increasingly expensive fossil fuels”

Yeah…I’m sorry I’m all for carbon emissions being cut, I’m not a denier of climate change…I’m on board….but our lifestyles have been built on environmental development after polluting development. Our lives would be a shade of what they were if we had not depended on the level of emissions we’ve achieved so far.

Is this a good thing, holistically, probably not…but western lifestyle is sustained by unsustainable living. It has to change, obviously, but trying to say we’d be happier through it all? I think the chorus of critics and deniers that position themselves as such simply because they won’t be able to do all of the stuff they do, and use all the resources they do, in a sustainable environmental economy shows that this will quite simply not be the case, not universally.

Another top scientist has now come out to say that Copenhagen targets are pathetic.
http://bit.ly/7yKxB8

I agree with that view – lefties are in my view buying into the political consensus when we should be agitating for much more. Copenhagen doesn’t go very far and is a lame compromise built on top of the lamer compromise that was Kyoto.

Sunny H

The worst thing about Kyoto was that it didn’t compromise enough – and hence we are now having to compromise all over again to get the americans, Chinese and others on board.

If Kyoto had been weaker, Copenhagen could now be stronger as the debate would have been at work in those countries for years already.

Instead we need a weak Copenhagen to get everyone on board, so we can have a stronger agreement in future.

Margin4Error @ 19, I’m sure you may be right, (If that doesn’t sound too confused – actually it is).
Who travelling on the bus or tube, (or your aunties and uncles and nieces at a wedding) really know and care much about this?
It’s a scientic and government issue and I’m happy enough for them to get along with it. (Same with fisscal policy and other things I dont understand.).
But I am deeply sceptical about some of these most outspoken activists who I walked amongst and listened too in Blackheath at the climate camp a few months back.
They came across to me (really being general here) as a group of Moonies might.

I prefered it when young(ish) people had a passion for things like stopping the Vietnam war, criticising Britain for its excessive force in Northen Ireland and things like the Nicaragua Soladarity campaign.
But these days they’re more likely to be (white) vegans with dreadlocks, middle class and think that stunts like invading the runway at Stanstead airport, (and disrupting thousands of people) is something worth getting involved with.

You really should read my latest blog article Damon. Just click on my name to see how much I agree with you.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/dec/08/copenhagen-climate-summit-disarray-danish-text?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter
This really is a disgrace and a disaster. It backs up everything that I am saying.
Nothing other than plain racism and utterly short-sighted self-interest can support something like this.

Contraction and Convergence or bust.

Margin4Error, I just read your article. Sounds about just right. But I really don’t have much of a clue about the science.
One thing I can only guess at, is how much a really aggressive treaty would actually make a difference to temperature and sea levels. We obviously can’t stop the desire for all the world’s people to live in fully developed consumer societies (with broadband, cars and fridges) so I can’t really see how these cuts that make a difference might come about.

At the Climate Camp in the summer I was taking a wee next to this chap at the organic urinal (which was just a hay bail) and I said to him – as they had spent a great amount of time and energy to create a number of organic toilets (see image)
http://www.urbi-orbi.net/wp-content/enviro-friendly-toilet.jpg
….that ”they might have just gotten in a dozen portaloos and saved themselves the effort.”

He seeemed offended at such a ”bizarre” thing to be suggested, and gave me a short explaination for why what they had built was so much better. The transportation costs of hiring in those plastic chemical toilets and how polluting they were etc. I felt kind of out of sorts there as they were obviously very ideological.

Damon

I shouldn’t worry about the pious nature of people at climate change camps. The sex is more interesting than the politics.

But there are practical things we can do to cut climate change – and although we don’t all understand the science – we should acknowledge that the vast majority of those who do are unambigious about the need to cut.

People can buy energy efficient fridges and fuel efficient cars. And they do so in large numbers in europe where the political establishment has bought into the logic of climate change, and so have persuaded the public to do likewise.

The problem is that much of the world has not – and if C’llr Rupert Read has his way – they never will.

So lets hope Read doesn’t get his way – and that a deal, however weak it might be, gets done. Because otherwise the world really is done for.

Weaken the UN’s role in handling climate finance

Sounds like a good start.

Margine4Error: “People can buy energy efficient fridges and fuel efficient cars. And they do so in large numbers in europe where the political establishment has bought into the logic of climate change, and so have persuaded the public to do likewise.”

Most Europeans buy energy efficient appliances that more or less suit their needs. The motivation is the electricity or gas bill at the end of three months versus capital cost, not CO2 emissions.

It is damned hard to buy anything on the high street that is ludicrously inefficient apart from tumble driers; all tumble driers should include an external environmental monitor to advise when it is wise to dry clothes outdoors; with a shut-up button for the occasion when you need to dry a shirt in a hurry.

Environmental behaviour and white goods purchasing is more influenced by the cost of electricity than other factors. Please do not spend my money on “green adverts”.

Charlieman

I quite simply have no idea what makes you think that. I never know why it is people feel so comfortable presuming to know the motivations of the public at large the way you have.

But even so – you ignore almost completely that 20 years ago people didn’t buy efficient fridges and low energy light bulbs.

Likewise you overlook the lack of such puraching habbits in countries where the political establishment is less progressive on climate change (USA, Canada, Australia, Russia, etc) buy far less efficient goods than in Europe and Japan.

As such your simplistic market analysis seems at best severely flawed – but more likely just made up to downplay the role of government for more idealistic reasons on your part.

Margin4Error:
Sigh.
Have you really thought at all about what the world would look like if every family had a car, however efficient it was? Are you not aware that calculations have been done suggesting that the metal and plastic to make that number of cars alone would be in some casesabout the entire current annual production of the relevant metals and plastics? And that the oil to drive the cars would be more than the entire current annual production of oil?
Do you not understand that there are limits to growth?
Apparently not.
Please do look into it.
We are going to have to find another way to enable ‘developing’ countries to attain a decent quality of life. For exporting our current way of life would without question lead to ungainsayable environmental catastrophe.

Why have you put “developing” in inverted commas?
I assume because you want to keep them where they are, and send us backwards to boot.
Good luck with that.

Are you not aware that calculations have been done suggesting that the metal and plastic to make that number of cars alone would be in some cases about the entire current annual production of the relevant metals and plastics? And that the oil to drive the cars would be more than the entire current annual production of oil?

Well if you’re right then it won’t happen, will it?

On the other hand, unlike the Greens, some of us have greater confidence in technological progress.

Rupert Read

I don’t own a car (though I can afford one).

I don’t think everyone should. (They destroy our environment both locally and globally)

I would love the world to think about things like that a lot more. (But lets be honest here, they don’t at the moment)

And hence EVERYTHING I’ve written on this thread.

What I’m suggesting is that people who care give up their grand claims and their despair inducing race to denigrate the views of others and the efforts of governments that try – and instead learn some basic campaign strategy.

Because that’ll save the planet I care about.

http://politicsrules.wordpress.com/2009/12/08/please-aim-lower-at-copenhagen/

That link gives a basic outline of campaign strategy in article form.

cjcjc

Technology can only do so much. Public attitude is also key. After all, the USA is not technologically backwards. But the cars that typical Americans drive get no where near the mile to the gallon that British or Japanese cars do.

That’s because we failed to establish the logic behind climate change there. So the Government has never made the case for actions that would push up energy costs – and the public have never been pressed by the establishment to think in green terms as has happened elsewhere.

Cf. my letter in yesterday’s INDY, on a related theme:
http://rupertsread.blogspot.com/2009/12/cru-hacks-real-name-my-letter-in-todays.html

Margin4Error: we have VERY different views on campaign strategy, clearly. My view is, for instance, that the lesser of two evils is still,,, evil.
But I agree with what you say in #45.

Re
people buying energy efficient cars, fridges, light bulbs etc, as in the comments,
to lower emissions:

Rather than urging people to “cut down and save”,.
or buying energy efficient products (except when they want them anyway),
CO2 emissions can and should be dealt with directly.

Energy:
There is no energy shortage
(given renewable/nuclear development possibilities, with emission limits set as deemed necessary)
and consumers – not politicians – PAY for energy and how they wish to use it.

Notice: If there WAS an energy shortage, its price rise would
— limit people using it anyway, and make renewable energy more attractive
— make energy efficient products more attractive to buy.
No need to legislate for it.

Any “great savings” is in any case on what people WANT to buy
– no point in banning what they don’t want to buy!

If “new technology” is so great,
then why can’t manufacturers see that consumers want it?
And if consumers don’t want it, why is it “so great”?
For example, 8 to 9 times out of 10 Europeans prefer to buy ordinary incandescent light bulbs.
Also, energy using TV sets (or radios) with tubes weren’t banned just because transistors came along – they were bought less anyway.

Manufacturers,
may welcome measures that increase profits for them:
They get to make expensive products with more profit and less market competition,
no worry about competition of cheap products from any other manufacturer.
More about the industrial politics behind the Light bulb ban:
http://www.ceolas.net/#li1ax

But why shouldn’t European consumers play ball,
and voluntarily buy what the government thinks is so great,
especially if it saves them money in the long run?
After all people do buy expensive product alternatives generally
– if they think it’s worth it.

Well, there is No Free Lunch.
Energy efficiency is only ONE of all the advantages a light bulb or other product can have,
and mandating for energy efficiency unfortunately means that product features have to be sacrificed in other areas
– or the products would be energy efficient already.
Examples (using cars, buildings, dishwashers, TV sets, light bulbs etc):
http://ceolas.net/#cc211x
Energy efficient lights may be slower to come on, bulkier, less bright, mercury containing.
Energy efficient buildings are often sealed buildings – not always what users want.
Energy efficient cars tend to be unsafe (light in build and weight) and slower
– and so on.

The taxation alternative
Rather than energy efficiency, fuel efficiency, or emission
regulations on buildings, cars, light bulbs etc
which gives governments zero income and limits consumer choice,
government could of course relevantly tax those products instead, and
lower the tax on energy efficient or low emitting alternatives – so people aren’t just hit by taxes.
Governments make money on the reduced sales which not only itself
lowers related emissions,
but the tax income can also help to pay for CO2 emission processing
and renewable energy, and consumers keep choice.
Taxation can be lifted when enough low emission energy is in place.

Taxes are unjustified (and unfair on low emission households), but
better for all sides, if energy efficiency based bans are the only proposed alternative.

C’llr

I just disagree that it is evil to win round national governments to a logic that will see them carry the campaign forward for us.

Had we done so in the past, I would agree Copenhagen was not a step forward in the form being muted.

Peter

I think you have somewhat circled all the way round in your comment and agreed with what you started off disagreeing with.

You seem by the end to agree there is a case for urging people to buy energy efficient goods – and to do this using taxes – but at the start you seem to make a case against urging consumers to do anything they don’t already do under market forces (which is fine except when dealing with a market failure like pollution)

However – I largely agree with your point about using taxes and emissions trading schemes and other such monetary costs at the level of producers to help support change that consumers will respond to.

More power to Rupert Read.

He is his own worst enemy.

Carry on.

Margin4Error

I would never urge people to buy energy efficient goods.
I would urge them to buy what they want.

I disagree in principle with both energy efficiency based taxes and bans.
I just say taxes are better than bans, and are a way of providing funding
for environmental measures (if they are seen as needed).

Regarding the need to deal with CO2 emissions (or not)
as I said in #23
the irony is that more effective electricity and transport policies have their own advantages that mean emission reduction policies aren’t needed
http://www.ceolas.net/#cc1x

Now,
if specific CO2 reduction policies are nevertheless seen as needed,
then emission trading is wrong for all the reasons said (and linked) in #22

In my view it’s in that case better then to phase in allowable CO2 emission levels for say power stations, in the same way that say allowable power station mercury emission levels are being phased in, at least in the USA.

Added Note:

The reason for widespread energy efficiency bans rather than taxes relates to manufacturer profits etc.

Anyone interested can read about the unpublicised industrial poliics behind the Light Bulb ban
http://www.ceolas.net/#li1ax

53. peter dublin

margin 4 error

rereading your comment
“urging people to buy energy efficient goods – and to do this using taxes ”

The point is that the government wins BOTH ways with taxes,
it’s not about urgng people to buy them
If peope DON’T buy them it’s of course like a ban on them – which is what the governments otherwise want in their belief it’s a good way to lower energy use and CO2 emissions
Either way they gain, and consumers keep choice, and within the tax take it could allow for energy efficient products having less tax on them than today.
That is why taxes are better than bans, in my view.

54. Jackie Flynn

There is no scientific proof that CO2 is causing global warming. Wouldn’t it be nice (oh and intelligent!) if people would spend some time thinking about the giant fraud that is about to occur simply because of the poor studies performed by a few scientists and biased information reported by our government and the news media
It has however been confirmed that Al Gore-madoff will come away a very wealthy man because of fraudulent activity of a few scientists. Cap-N-Trade is an horrific political scam and a frightening hit on our economy and future security.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Paulo Coimbra

    RT @libcon: :: Copenhagen does not go far enough http://bit.ly/73W9NT

  2. RupertRead

    My new article @LIBERALCONSPIRACY on why #Copenhagen does not go far enough and thus the #CRU hack may be silverlined: http://bit.ly/73W9NT

  3. Helen L

    RT @libcon: Copenhagen does not go far enough http://bit.ly/73W9NT

  4. Liberal Conspiracy

    :: Copenhagen does not go far enough http://bit.ly/73W9NT

  5. Tweets that mention Liberal Conspiracy » Copenhagen does not go far enough -- Topsy.com

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Liberal Conspiracy, Paulo Coimbra. Paulo Coimbra said: RT @libcon: :: Copenhagen does not go far enough http://bit.ly/73W9NT […]

  6. S Smith

    Copenhagen does not go far enough (Rupert Read )
    http://www.liberalconspiracy.org/2009/12/07/copenhagen-does-not-go-far-enough/

  7. Claire Butler

    RT @libcon Copenhagen does not go far enough http://bit.ly/823p1g

  8. Tessa Gee

    Liberal Conspiracy » Copenhagen does not go far enough http://ow.ly/KBVN





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