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Unpicking Kyoto (1)

Unpicking Kyoto
Jo Abbess
20 June 2010



The governments of the world are, by and large, well-informed about Climate Change by their trusted scientific advisers and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). However, there is a disconnect between this knowledge and concrete policy action. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has not been successful in achieving control of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions through the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol. Plus, annual negotiations have not reached a form of an agreement to succeed Kyoto, as evidenced by the inconclusive round of talks in December 2009 in Copenhagen. Suggestions of a way forward include a radical re-think about the formulation of the Kyoto Protocol, and the connection of Climate Change to other global concerns.

Kyoto Isn’t Working

For a period during the late 1980s and early 1990s, the world economy appeared to reach a stable point, whereby Carbon Dioxide emissions per person (per capita) levelled off. Many of the world’s major economies were switching fuels – from coal to Natural Gas. And some heavily industrialised countries were going through revolutionary change, and reducing their Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions as a result of the ensuing loss of industrial output.

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The Price of Carbon

The Price of Carbon

by Jo Abbess
20 April 2010

1.   Introduction

Policy strategy for controlling risky excess atmospheric greenhouse gas (Gowdy, 2008, Sect. 4; McKibben, 2007, Ch. 1, pp. 19-20; Solomon et al., 2009; Tickell, 2008, Ch. 6, pp. 205-208) mostly derives from the notion that carbon dioxide emissions should be charged for, in order to prevent future emissions; similar to treatment for environmental pollutants (Giddens, 2009, Ch. 6, pp. 149-155; Gore, 2009, Ch. 15 “The True Cost of Carbon”; Pigou, 1932; Tickell, 2008, Ch.4, Box 4.1, pp. 112-116). Underscoring this idea is the evidence that fines, taxes and fees modify behaviour, reigning in the marginal social cost of “externalities” through financial disincentive (Baumol, 1972; Sandmo, 2009; Tol, 2008). However this approach may not enable the high-value, long-term investment required for decarbonisation, which needs adjustments to the economy at scale (CAT, 2010; Hepburn and Stern, 2008, pp. 39-40, Sect. (ii) “The Consequences of Non-marginality”; MacKay, 2008, Ch. 19; Tickell, 2008, Ch. 2, pp. 40-41).

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BP’s Chief Economist Flunks Logic

I sometimes read the Foreign Affairs magazine, as the articles are written by influential people, some of whom appear to be remarkably knowledgable and sane.

However, trying to read a recent piece by BP’s Chief Economist Christof Ruehl was a journey with little progress, so I’m sorry to admit I couldn’t bring myself to finish digesting it.

The man’s head appears to have been spun, or he might have had a mission to spin his readership. All the same, it’s worthy of a Koan award (see YouTube on this page).

“Global Energy After the Crisis : Prospects and Priorities” by Christof Ruehl, Chief Economist of BP plc, writing in Foreign Affairs Magazine, Volume 89, Number 2, March/April 2010 :-

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Renewable Synergy

The news is that there is continuing progress towards a fully Renewable Europe. It is, after all, the only means to ensure a sustainable Economy into the future, given the twin blended threats of Climate Change Carbon Mitigation and Peak Fossil Fuels.

Dr Gregor Czisch’s meisterwerk is being translated into English for publication this Summer :-

Scenarios for a Future Electricity Supply: Cost-Optimised Variations on Supplying Europe and Its Neighbours with Electricity from Renewable Energies

You would never know from the plainspeaking title just how exciting this is : seriously cheap Energy and peacemaking collaboration all in one shot !

The management consultants PriceWaterhouseCooper (couldn’t they think of a more speakable name ?), have just published their own view on Europe and North Africa combining to provide a one hundred percent renewable Energy solution :-

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BP : After the Gas and Oil are Gone

Together with a couple of my peers, I’ve been taking a look at BP’s “sustainability”, both from a business point of view and from a Climate Change point of view.

We’ve just given a presentation, of which I offer you a couple of the slides and the script to accompany them.

The central point of issue is : what will BP do after the Gas and Oil are gone ? There may be decades of reasonable hydrocarbons left to exploit, but how will Pension Funds get their return on investment after that ? Where is the future thinking ?

And what about Climate Change ? Retreating from Alternative Energy back into its core business of Oil and Gas means that BP plc will not be able to make substantial cuts in the Greenhouse Gas Emissions of the products that they sell – which means that sooner or later, when Carbon Energy is rationed, their business will start to implode.

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Copenhagen Discord (2)

“I don’t think you should be so critical”, the young NGO drone chided me in a public meeting.

And I thought I had the right to express my opinions – I think the Kyoto Protocol was a deeply flawed global compromise with deliberately low ambitions and compromised policy and framework proposals.

Enforce a market in a negative commodity ? How ridiculous !

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by Jo Abbess
19 February 2010

A number of prevalent ideological frameworks employed for constructing policy to address Global Warming appear to have faulty foundational analysis and are therefore ineffective in addressing Carbon Dioxide Emissions. Politically implementable options that could lead to effective action to combat Climate Change are being kicked into the long grass at every turn, in policy, in investment and in society.

Reasonable proposals are being made over-complex to implement, or delayed by every means possible. The dominant memes of economics hinder good decision-making; for example, not all natural capital can be valued as a commodity, and yet Carbon markets and Carbon tax regimes are the most ubiquitous proposals.

The cheapest options for efficiency are overlooked for subsidy-attracting large-scale projects; and wholescale sustainability approaches are being discarded in favour of focus on obsessional marginal issues such as recycling.

The imperative to deliberately orient investment towards Low Carbon energy is lost in the haze of planning based on non-solutions such as the renaissance of Nuclear Power and Carbon Capture and Storage in the pursuit of so-called “Clean” Coal.

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Tesco Town : Bloated Parasite

Flickr Image : David Breslin @ b3ta

Not content with having four very similar Planning Applications overturned previously in quiet, suburban Highams Park, London E4, (including one taken to a Public Inquiry), nothing seems to be able to stop Tesco trying again, with a remarkably unchanged plan for a mega-superstore with crowded urban-style blocks of adjacent flats.

Only this time it’s got a “travellator”, you know, the kind of moving walkway normally found at airports, to take you from the ground floor car park atrocity to the first floor store.

This is their attempt to design the plan into our hearts. But not even a brilliant architect can make a catwalk model out of this bloated parasitical plan :-

The local residents are up in arms, flexing their telephone dialling fingers, and furiously typing letters and electronic mails about this abomination of a Planning Application :-

If you yourself live in London E4, you can submit a comment on this plan yourself very easily on the Council’s website, quoting the Application Numbers 2008/1490 and 2008/1491 :-

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Bjørn Lomborg : Climate Joker

In his own, special, blond, way, I feel Bjørn Lomborg is as dangerous as Martin Durkin. They both act like incarnations of The Climate Joker in my view, showing different capricious sides to the destructive force of mankind’s inhumanity to man (and beast and tree).

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Pouncing on the Pussycat Parade

He may prowl like a cat and purr like a cat, and make out he’s soft and sweet in interviews, but Peter Mandelson’s ideological positioning gives him the impression of him more resembling a pawn, an eel or a rat, and gives me a shudder of disgust; and I’m glad to hear the Climate Rush non-Pussycat Dolls have seen fit to pounce on him :-

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Joan Ruddock : Flashback 2008

Notes from PA21 Meeting with the Under-Secretary of State for the Environment

Meeting Date : Tuesday 25th March 2008
Meeting Time : 14:05 – 15:00
Meeting Venue: Whitehall


Joan Ruddock MP, Under-Secretary of State, Environment
Annette Brooke MP
Tony Hamilton PA21 Chair
Theresa McManus PA21 Secretary
Naomi Matteson

Notes from Meeting

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Is That All There Is ?

Image Credit : Scott Kinmartin

Over the course of aeons of archeaological time, there has been a lot of death, I mean mass extinction, periods of natural hyper-slaughter and climate mayhem, atmospheric toxicity and ocean wipeout.

It’s all in the fossil record, except where those dead things have decomposed or chemically transposed into other things, like petroleum oil.

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What We Have Here Is A Failure To Innovate

Remember the American Space Program ?

Very large sums of public tax money have been ploughed into the National Aeronautics and Space Administration over the years, peaking in 1966 :-

OK, it gave us the Moon landings and Teflon (TM), but just recently, I don’t see much in terms of really, really new things.

What’s happened to the innovation ?

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No Country for Old Men

Heaven knows what Aubrey Meyer must feel like some days.

For every ounce of frustration I feel about the sloth-like pace of the international Climate negotiations, he must feel a pound of nerve-wrecking agitational sweating stress.

The United States of America has been trumpeting its progressive politics again this week, asserting itself as the world’s Climate Change leader at the G8 talks in L’Aquila in Italy.

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Big Carbon Cuts Coming

Some simple analysis of the Carbon Dioxide emissions in the UK leads to several pertinent conclusions :-

UK Carbon Dioxide Emissions (Megatonnes) Projection to 2020

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Astonishing Admissions

At the Climate Change campaign meeting on Saturday, “Six Months to Copenhagen”, hosted by the Fabian Society in London, Ed Miliband said some things I find astonishing admissions.

The Climate Change Committee, after having looked into the matter of Carbon Budgets on Carbon Emissions Reductions for the United Kingdom, made recommendations for our national targets :-

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Mr Tesco Speaks Of Zero

Terry Leahy, the CEO of Tesco, the largest supermarket chain in Britain, spoke at the 5th June 2009 conference “The politics of climate change : from economic crisis to business revolution”. His mood was ebullient, it seemed to me.

“We’re going to miss all the targets we set ourselves.” I think he might have been referring to both the Kyoto Protocol and the UK / EU 2020 targets, so I don’t know why he seemed so buoyant about it.