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Carbon rationing......... And you.
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Milo



Joined: 16 May 2005
Posts: 342
Location: Oop North-ish.
PostPosted: Tue May 17, 05 6:46 pm    Post subject: Carbon rationing......... And you.  Reply with quote    

Introduced by Professor John Whitelegg who currently advises the UK Cabinet on government transport strategy and organised by our local Green party, on Wednesday 130405 Mayer Hillman, author of the fascinating and uncompromising How We Can Save The Planet, (yes, I already had a copy), gave a very poorly advertised public talk to a group of only 20 students and local people at Lancaster (UK) university. On the previous evening he had spoken to a larger and more challenging audience at Lancaster town hall.

Mayer is not a tree-hugger and, believing their environmental policies to be inadequate, is not a member of the Green Party, nor of any other group, environmental or otherwise.

For over an hour he spoke with a powerful logic and immense intelligence. He warned that our planet has a finite capacity for absorbing greenhouse gases and that the seriousness of the current situation is already clearly evidenced in many ways (including the early opening of daffodils in our gardens and emphasised by the recent incidence of floods, hurricanes, big waves, and glacier and icecap melting). He added that last year due to climate change 160,000 extra people in the third world died and 20,000 in Europe. All of these changes are attributable to human activity.

Mayer emphasised often that carbon rationing, [think of wartime rationing which for the good of the (western) world was unquestioningly accepted by all] is the only way forward and that an equal share is the only fair way. To achieve fairness the ration will have to be reduced each year.

Up until now every government’s criterion for success has been economic growth and the belief that people should be enabled to travel further and faster and be provided with low cost airlines. Greater fuel economy in aircraft and motor vehicles has not led to a reduction in the amount of greenhouse gases.

Now that we all more or less know what the consequences of our actions are, we can no longer go on behaving in this way. We could not be said to be doing so unwittingly.

In How We Can Save The Planet Mayer outlines many people’s responses to the situation, e.g. that they think there might be a technological solution, or they make excuses, such as others (the US) are far worse.

Mayer emphasised the exponential rate of growth of CO2 in the atmosphere from 280 parts per million (ppm) before the industrial revolution to 370ppm now. The concentration had been the same for half a million years until the industrial revolution. The government’s target of 60% reduction of emissions by 2050 is desperately inadequate. We cannot wait until 2050. Their ceiling of 550ppm is too high. We need a reduction of 90% in 20-25 years, based on 10% per annum and diminishing returns. We have a responsibility to our children and grandchildren to protect the environment.

Mayer discussed the other options including carbon sequestration and the use of alternative fuels/energy sources. However, these could make only a very small contribution.

The planting of trees he dismissed as an almost totally inadequate response and was scathing of those organisations which (profit from and) promote carbon neutrality by tree planting.

The only realistic solution is to introduce carbon rationing. The average CO2 emission in the UK is currently 10 tonnes per person and it needs to be reduced to a little over one tonne within 20-25 years. A rationing scheme should use the principle of contraction and convergence - contraction of greenhouse gases and convergence to equal rations. The archbishop of Canterbury has supported this principle. It is not a matter of making personal sacrifices - rationing must be imposed by the government and Mayer believes that in Europe carbon rationing will be mandatory within just a few years, the initial ration introduced at the current national average and then decreased each year to the necessary level. Trading will be allowed, thereby encouraging energy thrift and costs will depend on demand and availability.

I asked how carbon rationing might be / will be implemented at individual and household level and Mayer explained that the wartime ration book would very simply be replaced by a swipe card which would allow the use of electricity or gas and the purchase of fuels for vehicles.

One return flight from London to New York would be three year’s ration. If your work is too far from your home then you will have to move house, or find another a workplace closer to home. Tourism will change enormously and the Olympic Games would no longer be considered to be in any way viable. If the US did not adopt carbon rationing, they would be seen as a pariah in trading terms, (far more so than now), and economics would very soon force their hand.

By the way, my wife and I cycled to the university.

Treacodactyl
Downsizer Moderator


Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 25697
Location: Jumping on the bandwagon of opportunism
PostPosted: Tue May 17, 05 6:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

I think some form of tradable carbon units would be a good idea. People who are carbon -ve can trade their units so that someone could fly if wished. I think this would encourage many people to adopt energy efficient schemes and ways of reducing emissions. Gradually a countries total emissions could be reduced.

The thing is can you actually see USA reducing it's emissions? There's not much point if they don't start.

cab



Joined: 01 Nov 2004
Posts: 32429

PostPosted: Tue May 17, 05 7:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Hmmmm... Cycling to Lancaster University. Gosh, that brings back memories. You live up in Lancaster?

I can't disagree with Meyer on anythng he says is wrong. I'm not convinced that he's got a good answer on the way forward. To change the way we (especially in the West, but globally) relate to energy useage is the greatest social engineering experiment in the history of mankind. The scale of this is just awesome!

Milo



Joined: 16 May 2005
Posts: 342
Location: Oop North-ish.
PostPosted: Tue May 17, 05 9:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Treacodactyl wrote:
The thing is can you actually see USA reducing it's emissions? There's not much point if they don't start.


As I understand it, (i.e. as best I can), Europe would / will adopt carbon rationing and the US would / will come to be viewed as a bigger, fatter pariah than even now it is. Relatively soon no nation would want / need to trade with it. Once fully aware of its isolated position (and its reliance upon foreign oil) it would conform.

Treacodactyl
Downsizer Moderator


Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 25697
Location: Jumping on the bandwagon of opportunism
PostPosted: Tue May 17, 05 9:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Milo wrote:
Treacodactyl wrote:
The thing is can you actually see USA reducing it's emissions? There's not much point if they don't start.


As I understand it, (i.e. as best I can), Europe would / will adopt carbon rationing and the US would / will come to be viewed as a bigger, fatter pariah than even now it is. Relatively soon no nation would want / need to trade with it. Once fully aware of its isolated position (and its reliance upon foreign oil) it would conform.


Would this be the same people who spend long weekends flying to New York shopping? People who care seem to be aware and are changing their habits but as for the bulk of people in Europe I very much doubt they will do anything until they are facing a life threatening catastrophe. I do hope I'm wrong but I cannot see things changing much for many years.

Milo



Joined: 16 May 2005
Posts: 342
Location: Oop North-ish.
PostPosted: Tue May 17, 05 9:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

* Hmmmm... Cycling to Lancaster University. Gosh, that brings back memories. You live up in Lancaster?

Catch me cycling much further?

* I'm not convinced that he's got a good answer on the way forward.

You don't have to be convinced - yet!

* To change the way we (especially in the West, but globally) relate to energy useage is the greatest social engineering experiment in the history of mankind. The scale of this is just awesome!

YES, isn't it. Mayer's mind is huge! Talk about thinking outside the (ruddy) box - he's thinking on a HUGE scale.

Milo



Joined: 16 May 2005
Posts: 342
Location: Oop North-ish.
PostPosted: Tue May 17, 05 9:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Quote:
Would this be the same people who spend long weekends flying to New York shopping? People who care seem to be aware and are changing their habits but as for the bulk of people in Europe I very much doubt they will do anything until they are facing a life threatening catastrophe. I do hope I'm wrong but I cannot see things changing much for many years


Oh, man, don't give in to the doom and gloom. Try this:

"That'll be £17 and 10 carbon points"

Tradable quotas are the best way to tackle domestic CO2 emissions, write Richard Starkey and Kevin Anderson

Thursday April 29, 2004, Guardian

It's 2025 and you've just filled the car with unleaded petrol and handed over your credit card. Nothing unusual so far. Now imagine you also hand over a second piece of plastic - let's call it a "carbon card" - for the attendant to swipe. It's not cash being debited this time, but "carbon units" from your personal allowance. Welcome to life under carbon rationing.

We believe that carbon rations - or to use our preferred term, domestic tradable quotas - are the fairest and most practical way to cut emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. The government has pledged that the UK will cut CO2 emissions by 60% by 2050. That's a hugely ambitious target achievable only if each of us limits the CO2 emitted in our name.

Climate change is "more serious even than the threat of terrorism", according to David King, the government's chief scientific adviser. The Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution says curbing the threat requires a reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions of about 70% by the 22nd century.

There is substantial disagreement about how this should be done. The commission took the view that "every human is entitled to release into the atmosphere the same quantity of greenhouse gases" and endorsed a policy of "contraction and convergence" under which nations gradually move towards sharing emissions. The commission says this would require a cut in our CO2 emissions of 60% by 2050 - government policy since the 2003 energy white paper.

Much thought has been given to applying the per capita principle to the allocation of emissions between nations, but almost none to applying it within nations.

Here's how our scheme works. First, the government sets an annual carbon budget - the maximum quantity of emissions permitted from energy use - which reduces year on year until the 2050 target is reached.

Each year's budget is broken down into carbon units (say 1 unit = 1 kg of CO2). Households are responsible for about 40% of energy emissions, so this proportion of units is allocated equally and without charge to every citizen over 18. The remaining units are auctioned to organisations.

Then, when citizens or organisations purchase fuel or electricity they surrender corresponding units from their carbon card.

Now comes the clever bit. Each card links to a national database allowing individuals to trade their carbon units. Say, for example, you need to drive to work, but have no carbon units left. No problem, the garage simply goes into the national market and buys the number of units needed. The cost is added to your bill.

Or perhaps you don't own a car? Then you can sell your surplus units into the market for hard cash. And because the size of the cake is fixed, these trades will not affect the overall emissions produced.

How does carbon rationing measure up as a mechanism for emissions reduction? The standard test for a proposed environmental policy measure is to assess it against the three Es: equity (is it fair?), effectiveness (will it achieve its target?) and efficiency (will it be cost-effective?).

If the atmosphere is viewed as a common resource then it seems fair that people have equal shares. Allocating emissions on this basis is surely fairer than by ability to pay, as, for example, under a carbon tax. According to government figures, there are about three million households in fuel poverty, that is without sufficient income to heat their homes adequately. Fuel-poor households generally use less energy and so, as below-average emitters, most would be better off because they could sell their surplus units.

To be effective, the scheme would need to be technically and administratively feasible and acceptable to the public. Clearly it requires a central database to hold the carbon accounts and record transactions. Computer experts say such a database is not a problem using current technology, and neither is linking our 11,000 garages to it in real-time.

There is one obvious sticking point: the government would need a list of individuals entitled to carbon units. In other words, it would need a population register: but one would be created for the proposed ID card scheme. In fact, the ID card could act as the carbon card.

Finally, the scheme scores well for efficiency. According to economists, its market approach is the most cost-effective route to reduce emissions.

· Richard Starkey and Kevin Anderson are scientists at the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, Umist

Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2005

cab



Joined: 01 Nov 2004
Posts: 32429

PostPosted: Tue May 17, 05 9:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Milo wrote:

Catch me cycling much further?


Many is the time I've had to cycle through a her of fresians on Bailrigg Lane. Great animals, but rather more inquisitive than I like in a whole herd of cows at once.

There's some cracking cycling to be had up there. One of my favourite runs was out from Lancaster down to Chonder Green, out through Glasson Dock, down past Cockerham Sands and all the way to Knot end, over on the ferry, and back from Fleetwood/Blackpool on the roads. Out through the back of the city (up past Bowerham, down into the valley and out into the farm fields) was also great fun. North around Morecambe bay...

Gosh, but I was a stupid student There's also some phenomenal foraging to be had around there.

Quote:

* I'm not convinced that he's got a good answer on the way forward.

You don't have to be convinced - yet!

* To change the way we (especially in the West, but globally) relate to energy useage is the greatest social engineering experiment in the history of mankind. The scale of this is just awesome!

YES, isn't it. Mayer's mind is huge! Talk about thinking outside the (ruddy) box - he's thinking on a HUGE scale.


He's thinking on a huge scale... And not convincing me. I'm a soft target. If he isn't convincing me (at heart someone who's pretty damned green), he'll struggle. He only seems to see part of the picture.

Milo



Joined: 16 May 2005
Posts: 342
Location: Oop North-ish.
PostPosted: Tue May 17, 05 11:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Having lived in Thornton, Stalmine and Garstang your cycling routes are all very familiar to me. I spent my stupid student days at what was then Charlotte Mason College of education at Ambleside - what a fine place to waste three years!

"He only seems to see part of the picture."

Don't worry about Mayer Hillman - quite certainly I haven't managed to convey fully what it is he's getting at nor, more importantly, the how of it.

Buy the book! £7.99, very small print on what looks to be recycled paper and he makes nothing from sale!

mochyn



Joined: 21 Dec 2004
Posts: 24569
Location: mid-Wales
PostPosted: Wed May 18, 05 7:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Well, all I can say is "Bring it on!" The sooner we get this started the better. I'm an optimist, but I know a lot of people out there aren't going to do anything off their own bats. Sadly, we're all going to have to be compelled to be more sensible if we want a planet that's still habitable in the next century. And if I hear one more person say "It doesn't matter what I do as long as the Yanks keep on like this" I might just hit them. Ever heard of personal responsibility? (By the way, that's not aimed at any individual here. You all know I'd hate to offend anyone here!)

Blue Peter



Joined: 21 Mar 2005
Posts: 2400
Location: Milton Keynes
PostPosted: Wed May 18, 05 8:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Milo wrote:
As I understand it, (i.e. as best I can), Europe would / will adopt carbon rationing and the US would / will come to be viewed as a bigger, fatter pariah than even now it is. Relatively soon no nation would want / need to trade with it. Once fully aware of its isolated position (and its reliance upon foreign oil) it would conform.


Do you think that the Americans would mind? Or do you think they might say, "Oh goody, more oil for us!"?


Peter.

Milo



Joined: 16 May 2005
Posts: 342
Location: Oop North-ish.
PostPosted: Wed May 18, 05 9:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Thank goodness, a supporter in Mochyn!

(Hey, I went to school in Wales - I know what You mean!).


Anyway, don't you think, folks, that recent events show that we are far too concerned about what America thinks.

Let's be realistic, but remain optimistic.

mochyn



Joined: 21 Dec 2004
Posts: 24569
Location: mid-Wales
PostPosted: Wed May 18, 05 9:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

I'm generally against being told what to do, but it seems that, as people won't act intelligently, it's going to have to happen.

I do all I can to spread the word, and I know some of it takes, but then I pass through the village at night and see houses where I know there are only two people in with almost every light on. I'm fed up with the Americans being held up as examples all the time: I know they're there and doing a lot to trash the plante, but I can only try to change things by example from here. I've always thought that when kids get stroppy and demand constant attention the best thing is a bit of healthy neglect. If we stop listening to the Americans we'd probably all be a lot better off!

Can't wait to get the wind turbine...
Off to put extra socks on: it's b*** freezing here!

Where in Wales were you, Milo?

joanne



Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 7094
Location: Morecambe, Lancashire
PostPosted: Wed May 18, 05 9:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

cab wrote:
There's also some phenomenal foraging to be had around there.


Where where ? tell me - I keep looking and can't find anything

I must admit the bike ride up to Glasson Dock and round Conder Green is lovely although its years since I've done any cycling - infact I don't even own a bike at the moment - Going looking for one this weekend funnily enough as the Kids are desperate to go on family bike rides

Back to the subject at hand - This would have been something I would have gone to if I'd known about it - The trouble is John Whitelegg irritates me beyond belief and anything that has his name attached to it would put me off.

Anyone who lives around the Lancaster and Morecambe area knows that the solution to the traffic issues is very complex and emotive and that Whitelegg's solutions are too simplistic to work unless the social problems are resolved as well. (I'll stop now before I get on my soap box)

Joanne

whitelegg1



Joined: 05 Apr 2005
Posts: 409
Location: Woodford Green
PostPosted: Wed May 18, 05 9:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

That's Whiteleggs for you!

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