Whose Economy ?

Whose Economy ?
by Jo Abbess
30th September 2007

Setting the scene for international cooperation over Global Warming in New York this week, the President of the United States of America said :-

“For many years, those who worried about climate change and those who worried about energy security were on opposite ends of the debate…It was said that we faced a choice between protecting the environment and producing enough energy. Today we know better. These challenges share a common solution: technology…”

“Each nation must decide for itself the right mix of tools and technology to achieve results that are measurable and environmentally effective…We must do it in a way that does not undermine economic growth or prevent nations from delivering greater prosperity for their people…”

George W. Bush, September 2007

Economic growth…economic prosperity…But, I ask you, whose economy is this ?

It’s certainly not an economy that works for the poor, even in the United States. Citizens of the United States are commonly working too long for too little each day, and many are suffering social deprivation, health problems and unrepayable debt.

The fact is, that despite uttering what appear to be lofty aspirations about putting in place policies to contain and reduce Carbon Dioxide emissions, voluntary measures will not protect the economy, or the climate.

Climate Change will continue unabated unless clear global regulations are put in place, and the damages from Climate Change will exacerbate poverty around the world, both the poverty of incomes and the impoverishment of the environment.

Climate Change is already crippling food production, trade systems and the basis of the “economy” beloved of the US President.

It is no good to believe that free trade policies can continue to promote development, when the environmental foundation of production is being destroyed, and the trade with it.

It is no good saying that the American Economy must not be compromised by efforts to tackle Climate Change, because if the Americans do not accept a certain cost to their measures, and a certain cap on their emissions, then the Climate Change damages will wreck their economy, in their own country.

At some point, the paradigm of economic growth will break down.

What will the Americans do when their balance of imports to exports is permanently negative and they have no means to reverse it ? As they squander their resources of fossil fuels, and burn more and more of the global supply as well, their wealth is being eroded.

As their fields of grain and corn turn to dust because of excessive heat, lack of water and disease, how will they feed themselves ?

As they have to divert ever-increasing sums into homeland disaster recovery, and fulfil their international obligations in Climate Change emergencies, how will they continue to afford the development of energy-efficient technologies ?

Need I mention that these things are happening already ?

Technological research is being squeezed, food production is in danger, problems with oil supply are regular news and imports have overtaken exports in many sectors for the last few years.

The US President thinks he presides over a healthy economy, but nothing could be farther from the truth.

It is ridiculous to continue to assert that Climate Change must be tackled without some cost – all that technology he proposes will require a good deal of investment, diverted from economic production.

By talking about energy efficiency and new technology, the President of the United States is denying the science – that we must not merely have better machines : actually we must run less of them.

The Americans, just like the rest of us, must start to accept that they need to ration their consumption. This means a contraction of the energy-dependent economy, including industrial manufacture, good transport, personal transport, high-energy home equipment.

It means using less fossil fuels.

If they do not, there will be no economy left to speak of in a very short time.

Economic insurance policy ? Renewable energy, energy demand reduction measures, re-localising public life, small food production lots in every town, home insulation, electric cars, natural building ventilation, regional and not national companies.

How Can We Be A Radical Low Carbon Borough ?

[ An address by Jo Abbess to Barkingside 21 Group, Fullwell Cross Library, 28th October 2006, 1 – 3 pm.

[ Meeting Speakers :-
Chris Church, Community Environment Associates and London 21
Jo Abbess, Poole Agenda 21
Lee Scott MP, Ilford North
Harry Cohen MP, Leyton & Wanstead
Jean Lambert MEP, Greater London
Cllr Hugh Cleaver, Redbridge Council ]

[ Put a large wastepaper basket on the table ]

Hello. My name is Jo Abbess and I’m a member of Poole Agenda 21. We have launched a national campaign called “Take Global Warming Seriously” and we are members of the Stop Climate Chaos coalition.

As campaigners for the Local Agenda 21, we frequently come up against the deeply
entrenched conflict between DEVELOPMENT and CONSERVATION.

Until recently, our proposals were considered “ahead of our time”, but it seems that time has finally caught up with the Sustainability Agenda. If the Earth cannot absorb the impacts of DEVELOPMENT, then we must take the CONSERSATION route.

Continue reading How Can We Be A Radical Low Carbon Borough ?

Surviving Climate Change – Some Geopolitical Indicators & Markers

[ Proposed chapter for the book “Surviving Climate Change”; finally published in “Time Up” the Climate Camp publication for 2006. ]

Surviving Climate Change – Some Geopolitical Indicators & Markers
by Tim Helweg-Larsen and Jo Abbess
23rd June 2006

“I kind of startled my country when, in my State of the Union [Address], I said we’re hooked on oil and we need to get off oil…we’ve got to diversify away from oil. And the best way to do it is through new technologies.” George W. Bush, President United States of America 21st June 2006

“We find that clean and more efficient technologies can return soaring energy-related CO2 emissions to today’s levels by 2050 and halve the expected growth in both oil and electricity demand” Claude Mandil, International Energy Agency, 22nd June 2006

Continue reading Surviving Climate Change – Some Geopolitical Indicators & Markers

One World Week at Ealing Abbey

Ealing Abbey Personal Presentation for One World Week
Speakers : Bishop John Oliver, Laurie Michaelis, Jo Abbess

Hello. My name is Jo Abbess, and I get nervous when I have to speak in public, so please forgive me if I start to resemble cranberry jelly…

Over the last few years I have been busy reading and reporting on Energy Trends, Climate Change and Resource Depletion; and as a direct result I am morphing into an environmental campaigner. Along the way, I became a member of Christian Ecology Link, gratefully recognising there are others of faith who are on a similar journey.

Continue reading One World Week at Ealing Abbey

Shall We Go Nuclear ?

Shall We Go Nuclear ?

The way I see it, it’s not a simple straight choice between one energy production technology and any other. It’s quite a lot more complicated than that. There are issues of national energy policy, the method of financing and influential key players, practical details, economics, security and surety of supply, safety, security of installations, and also historical experience, when considering each option.

Continue reading Shall We Go Nuclear ?

Eleven Practical Ideas to Combat Climate Change

Very little of what follows is original thought. But after much reflection, I feel these ideas are worthy of attention, and so I have expanded them for your consideration.

1. Contraction & Convergence Video Conferencing

Yet another international meeting on Energy Efficiency, Climate Change, Renewable Energy. Yet another brace of airline tickets for big speakers, engineers, policy-makers and scientists (and reporters) to fly in and confer.

In order to demonstrate the Contraction & Convergence framework in action, the delegates at all these meetings and conferences should reduce their carbon emissions to be in line with the lowest emitter of them all. Everyone will contract their carbon emissions, and everyone will get in line. Equal rights to pollute. The Principle of Equity.

There is enough cable and wire laid under all the world’s oceans and through the world’s rivers and soils to hold every single meeting by videoconferencing. And so it should be done.

No more flying for people of green persuasions. Follow Aubrey Meyer of the Global Commons Institute and the UNFCCC papers for development of Contraction & Convergence.

Continue reading Eleven Practical Ideas to Combat Climate Change

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