Unpicking Kyoto (5)

Unpicking Kyoto
Jo Abbess
20 June 2010

PART 5

CONTINUED FROM : Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4

Linking Climate Change to other Environmental Problems

The Greenhouse Gas Carbon Dioxide (CO2) from humankind’s activities is accumulating very rapidly in the Atmosphere, and this is why the international Climate Change negotiations and Climate Change Science focus on it so heavily.

The warming response of the Earth’s surface correlates strongly with the rise in Carbon Dioxide in the Atmosphere, so Global Warming can be treated almost entirely as the Earth system’s reaction to rising levels of this one gas.

Other Greenhouse Gases, such as Methane (CH4) and high level water vapour (H2O), are increasing in line with the rise in Carbon Dioxide.

Logic and experiment dictates that they are doing this in response to the rise in Carbon Dioxide, so their rise is a feedback effect in the Earth system – a reaction to rising temperatures – caused by the warming due to increasing airborne Carbon Dioxide.

However, Carbon Dioxide is not the only Greenhouse Gas that humankind is pumping into the Atmosphere in excess of natural levels – a rather famous example being that growing numbers of livestock are belching Methane that is adding to the up-tick on concentrations of Methane in the Atmosphere.

There are still high levels of various gaseous industrial pollution, some of which is in the form of Greenhouse Gases.

In addition, Global Warming is not the only environmental problem, although it is exacerbating other environmental problems.

Climate Change is an added stressor on natural habitats that are being degraded by pollution, bad land management and deforestation.

It seems obvious to take a step back to the Rio Earth Summit of 1992 and mesh together once more the environmental threads of the United Nations conventions : on Climate Change, Biodiversity and Desertification.

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Financial Ties : Green Taxes

The Financial Times advises :-

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/5dca38e0-8ac1-11df-8e17-00144feab49a.html

“Environmentalists have had a disappointing year. The Copenhagen talks fizzled and the economic crisis has overshadowed all other considerations. But the need for countries to repair towering fiscal deficits is an opening for the movement. As treasuries look for ways to raise more revenues, climate change activists should make the case for green taxes.”

So, environmental campaigners should be campaigning for green taxes to plug holes in public deficits caused by crashing banks ?

I think not.

Tax revenue that is collected on the basis of environmental pollution should always be hypothecated, committed to remediation and removal of environmental pollution.

The majority of the populations of the deficit-stricken economies (OK, then, the whole world) are quite right in resisting being locked down into extra taxation at present. Green taxes would be a financial tie too tight for most of the world’s economically stressed.

Green taxes spent on things other than green energy and energy efficiency would be a mockery.

Besides which, only very high levels of green taxation would have any impact on pollution behaviour – the “signal” from green taxes would be lost amongst general economic “instability” (that is, price rises due to other factors).

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