Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Durban, Canada and Kyoto

I am glad to say that I was proven wrong.  The COP17 Climate talks at Durban did produce something of significance.
The agreement seems to have a few major points.
  • "Stopping the Clock" on the Kyoto Protocol
  • A new legally binding agreement which will include China, The US and India, to be negotiated over the next few years with a treaty to come into force by 2020
  • The setting up of a green investment fund to aid low carbon development
This is all good! However it is no panacea.  As the Tyndall Centre  has said, global CO2 emissions have risen to a record 10 billion tonnes, an increase of 49% since 1990, the reference year for the Kyoto Protocol.

The governments involved have also yet to declare the scale of their reductions and timescale, 2020 may well be too late. 

Canada's withdrawal from the Kyoto Protocol is disturbing, given ongoing ecocide of the Alberta Tar Sands and the political pressures and connections associated with this, as well as the possible outlook regarding the exploitation of the Arctic.  It also highlights that there are no guarantees that other countries will not walk away from their commitments down the line, even if they have signed a legally binding treaty.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Shameful

The revelation in the Guardian, that at the highest levels, the UK government has been actively working with the Conservative government of Canada and the oil companies BP and Shell to oppose the proposed penalty for "highly polluting" fuels such as oil from the Alberta Tar Sands in the forthcoming EU Fuels Quality Directive should really come as no surprise.  It really is the nail in the coffiin for the green credentials of "the greenest government ever", as 350  activist and founder Bill McKibben has said it is "idiotic" . Let us hope that there is similar outrage as there was in the US against the Keystone XL pipeline. 

With the tar sands only about 3% burned and with only five years to transition we cannot allow our representatives to commit these acts in our name.

As the COP 17 climate talks in Durban begin our "leadership" is shown to be a corrupt facade. 
With the the experience of  Copenhagen and Cancun behind us, I would not expect anything meaningful to come out of Durban.

 It comes down to us, and we do not have much time... 

Sunday, 20 November 2011

COPing Out

What can I say?  This Guardian article today left me feeling terribly bleak.
It is not really unexpected, we have seen before the worth of the political pledges when it comes to tackling climate change.  But in the light of the recent reports from the IEA and the IPPC which are telling us clearly that we do not have the time to delay and that we will feel the impact of the crisis, I would have hoped for some real political will.  To delay a climate treaty until 2020 however "realistic" is a failure in their duty to the people. 

When you consider the likely impact of climate change on the lives of us all, particularly the global and national poor who will will be hit first and hardest, this failure is unforgiveable.  They/we have had chance after chance and at each test  have failed. 

I am of the opinion that the Occupy movement has a point.  That our politicial system is in fact a plutocracy masquerading as a "democracy"  you only have to consider the defence of the financial institutions by the police,






 the refusal (in the UK)  to implement a Robin Hood Tax and things like this to wonder who our political masters are really serving.  Perhaps it is time for us to embrace a direct democracy, to tap in to the creative potential of humanity to enable us to take the necessary action. 
I see no meaningful soloutins coming out of  Durban, I hope that I am proven wrong, but we will see...

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

5 years to Transition

This article in the Guardian newspaper today is very disturbing.  The International Energy Authority (IEA) is saying that we are likely to have lost any chance of avoiding dangerous climate change, due to the fossil-fuel power stations, factories, homes and other sundries we will,  if we continue as we are, build in the next five years.  It is said that if we are to avoid a 2 degrees C global mean rise, we must limit emissions to 450ppm of CO2 (e) in the atmosphere, currently we are running at about 390ppm.  Given the woeful state of our renewable energy capacity and given developments like the southern Gobi potential coal boom, I  do not see us even having that long. 

The problem is, in part,  our lifestyles. In the developed nations we have become accustomed to so many energy hungry luxuries and now consider them as "essentials" .  The radical measures necessary then become politically unacceptable and  at a national and international level little is achieved.

So we must push for green initiatives, we must remind our politicians how urgent it is and how green jobs might be the way out of the global economic crisis.  We must stress how unacceptable any delay is and how appalled we are by the lack of investment in the necessary infrastructure.  We must also prepare ourselves.  make the changes to our own lives and start building resilience at a community level, begin the transition now and hope that it is not too late.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Bleak news

The report from the US Dept of Energy, reported on by the Guardian makes chilling reading.  It is reported that emissions jumped by 6% in 2009-2010  (an extra 512 tonnes) with increases in China and the US accounting for half of that jump.  This, apparently, puts levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere beyond the worst case scenario in the IPCC 2007 report, and this situation is only likely to be exacerbated by China's vast coal mine development in the southern Gobi and the Keystone XL pipeline in North America. 

China and the US are in conflict over the Kyoto protocol, which is due to expire next year.  If we do not get a legally binding agreement including the US and China to replace the Kyoto Protocol we will be left with the non-binding statement of good intentions of the Copenhagen Accord.  

The COP17 UN climate talks are to be in Durban later this month.  One can hope that this news spurs the parties to take meaningful action, but I will not be holding my breath. 

We need to start adaptation now, but with the ongoing financial crisis, it seems questionable that the resources will actually be invested, especially by cash strapped or politically vulnerable governments.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Feeling the bite.

The recent well publicised remarks of the Chancellor that if he had his way the UK  would cut "carbon emissions no slower but also no faster than our fellow countries in Europe".  are being seen as an indicator that in times of severe austerity, serious green initiatives are too costly, leading to things like this.  
This is unfortunate.  If we are to have any real chance of weathering the oncoming crisis, we (especially in the developed nations)  need to seriously de-carbonise.
With the Arctic opening up to supertankers and China likely to exceed its emissions forecast and become "locked in" to a carbon heavy cycle.  With the US elections looming, the Kyoto Protocol due to expire in 2012 and likely to become a major bone of contention between the US and China , it seems unlikely that we will see much except more of the usual triumph of the National Economic Interest. 
We must both take personal responsibility and pressure our politicians to act.  We should be paying attention to the writing on the wall and not getting distracted.  Only if we have real determination, will there be  enough political will to take the necessary action. 

There are  measures which could raise money towards de-carbonisation such as the Robin Hood Tax, which, although resisted by the government in the UK (tellingly a major Conservative donor has actively lobbyed against the Tobin Tax) is gathering much support elsewhere 

While I am cynical, I have not yet given up all hope.   But we must act now, our window is short. 


 

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Scrooge moment

In  Dickens' A Christmas Carol, Ebenezer Scrooge is shown the misery of the poor by the Ghost of Christmas Present and then he is made aware of his own imminent death, and the reaction to it, by The Ghost of Christmas Future.
 
 I feel that we have been granted this "Scrooge moment." Through scientific data gathering and modelling, we are able to glimpse the broad outline of our future environment and have a fair idea of the impact this will have on our lives.  At the moment, we continue on pretty much as before: there are some minor changes but we are not really diverting from the path we have been on since the industrial revolution. 

The oncoming crisis demands our full attention.  It should replace Big Brother and Celebrity Chef at the forefront of our media and our minds. 

We have such a limited window of opportunity, it is essential to act with real determination now.   We must be the heroes of the moment, not idle spectators. 

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Keeping the fracking lights on

As the voices of Moving Planet ring out across the globe, as we pledge to move beyond fossil fuels, in the UK , the energy firm Cuadrilla has discovered a motherlode of shale gas under Lancashire.  The Guardian reports that it is estimated to be as much as 5.6 trillion cubic metres.  Given some of the experiences of people in the US, there is understandable concern about the effects of fracking on the local environment. 
There is also the issue that shale gas is a fossil fuel, and the discovery and exploitation of this source of energy is not really compatible with the need to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. There is also the question of how fracking will affect investment in renewables?  In short, I do  not think we should be doing this. 
 I believe that this desire on behalf of the government comes from desperation, a desperate need to "keep the lights on" in the face of declining North Sea gas reserves, energy insecurity and looming peak oil.  When peak oil hits us, we still face collapse.  Oil provides us with many, many things which gas cannot.  Plastics, fertilisers, pharmaceuticals and so many other things. 

While there is tighter regulation of fracking in the UK than in the US, investigation by The Guardian has exposed some alarming weaknesses in the regulatory regime.  Among the most chilling  are :-

• The recent energy and climate change select committee inquiry into shale gas did not consider tightening regulations, citing a lack of resources

• Confusion between the DECC, EA and HSE, the three government agencies which each have different responsibilities.

Donald Dobson, HSE's head of discipline, well engineering, says in a letter to former oil and gas engineer Mike Hill, that it is financially impossible to check each well. "Verification of an individual well is not the role of the HSE. The resource implications would be immense."

The citation of lack of resources as a reason for not tightening regulation and for a weak regulatory regime is worrying, in the present financial climate, adequate resources are not likely to be found for this.  The confusion between the regualtory agencies allows the passing and hiding of responsibility (at least until a major mishap). 
Without a strong regulatory regime, we fall back on asking the industry to self-regulate and I have no faith in that. 

Thursday, 22 September 2011

UK carbon target fail

The Guardian reported recently on the publication of a report by Cambridge Econometrics which says that the UK has decisively missed the stated target of a 20% reduction in CO2 emissions in the period 1990-2010, despite the reduction in emissions in 2009 due to the recession. 
This seems to me to highlight an issue which needs to be addressed.  While setting targets is necessary, these targets must be achievable and the resources to meet these targets need to be invested.  A recent DEFRA report looking at adaptation of UK infrastructure says that the govt plans to invest some £200 bn over the next five years, but given the ongoing financial crisis and the cuts to services which the UK (along with most of the EU, and the US)  is undergoing, it remains to be seen if this will actually happen? 

The political impetus to be seen to be green, and the well publicised statements, should not, I feel ,be taken at face value.  We face huge challenges in adapting to Climate Change and both the reality which we are facing and the difficulties in meeting the challenges which this presents must be made clear to all.  This is vital in terms of providing impetus for the radical actions which are necessary.

Monday, 29 August 2011

Check your privilege!

According to the Huffington Post Senator and Republican Presidential Candidate Michele Bachmann, while on a visit to a Florida retirement community, said that with shale oil, coal and natural gas and with untapped oil reserves in the Arctic,  the US should not be "begging" others for energy and that they were the "King Daddy Dogs" when it came to energy.   She blamed "radical environmentalists" for bottling up that energy supply.and preventing it from being tapped.  She apparently went on to claim that as "President Bachmann" she would shut down the "job killing" US Environmental Protection Agency with a single trip to "turn out the lights and lock the doors".  

Among US Republicans, particularly those of the Tea Party, Anthropogenic Climate Change seems to have become a sort of "litmus test"  for credibility.  It leads one to wonder what sort of environmental policies we might see if they gain victory in the US presidential elections?

In the developed nations we are in a privileged postion.  We are generally living lifestyles which are unsustainable and regard this as our right, without recognising the effects this has on others, including denying them that lifestyle.  The energy hunger and climate impact of that hunger stems directly from this. 

The big social injustice is that the poor are the ones who will be hit first and hardest by climate change. 

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Cynical thoughts

Recently in the Guardian, it was reported that President Obama has approved the controversial 1,700 mile pipeline to transport crude oil from the Alberta Tar Sands in Canada to Texas.  With breathtaking cynicism, Kerri Ann Jones, the assistant Secretary of State stated:-

"The sense we have is that the oil sands would be developed and there is not going to be any change in greenhouse gas emissions with the pipeline or without the pipeline because these oil sands will be developed anyway,"

So the role of US demand for Tar Sands in this development is nicely brushed over.

With the difficulties and adverse publicity which the Canadian government has encountered in the EU (with regard to the EU Fuels Directive) which I mentioned in my last post, it is likely that they are breathing a sigh of relief over this decision.  

My cynicism around the issue of political will and the primacy of the national economic interest has been well documented on this blog. 

While I think that a personal carbon allowance as advocated in "contraction and convergence" by Audrey Meyer is a good mechanism for reducing global emissions, I feel that it is unlikely to be realised in time.  If such a mechanism was implemented, it would end much of the present social inequality, for this reason I think that it is unlikely.  I cannot see the privileged in our society, willingly giving up their ability to live their massively carbon heavy lifestyle and having to become just an equal member.  This also applies internationally.  It would most definitely change international politics!  

I honestly do not see us taking enough meaningful action within the window of opportunity which we have. 

Friday, 5 August 2011

Canada Lobbying for Tar Sands

Friend of the Earth Europe (FOEE) have released a report detailing "unprecedented" lobbying by the Canadian government both in the UK and the EU, in attempt to delay and derail measures within the proposed European Fuel Quality Directive(FQD)   penalising the import and sale of carbon heavy fuel.
FOEE reports that there have been over 110 lobbying events organised by the Canadians on Tar Sands and the FQD since September 2009 (ie over 1 per week).    Which promote the "key role" which Canada plays in energy security.  The Canadian Government also seems to be trying to undermine peer reviewed European studies detailing the climate impact of the Tar Sands and promoting studies by IHS Cera, an institute which has definite links to the oil industry. 

This comes as the UNEP reports that the contamination of the Niger Delta by the oil industry could take 30 years to clean up and cost over $1bn  and in the UK, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has called for carbon heavy industry to be exempt from the proposed minimum carbon dioxide price, with concerns that heavy industry, whis is in part essential for the green recovery (for example the manufacture of wind turbines) would migrate abroad. 

I think that one of the major issues underlying this issue in developed nations is our feeling of entitlement.  We believe that we are entitled to our personal computers, TVs, cars, washing machines, mobile phones and all the other energy hungry products which have increased our household energy demand by 18% since 1970.  This, alongside the impact of our food and other aspects of our lifestyle seems to me to be incompatible with the necessary reduction and fundamentally unjust, in a global
sense.

 We in the developed nations bear the major current and historic responsibility for the oncoming crisis.  I feel it behooves us to do more to reduce our national and personal footprints.  Measures such as a personal carbon budget like the"contraction and convergence" model would perhaps offer a more socially just solution. 

Sunday, 3 July 2011

What the frack!

With the recent controversy surrounding the introduction of fracking to the UK and the possible link to the recent tremors near Blackpool, it was very disturbing to come across this, a colouring book produced by Talisman, of Terry the Friendly Fracosaurus! 




Really?.....

Friday, 3 June 2011

Social work

I have recently been south onto Shetland Mainland doing a course learning to build dykes (aka dry stone walls).  I was near Sumburgh head and so decided to visit the lighthouse.  Near the lighthouse are some late 19th century dykes.  According to local legend, these are "meal dykes" , where as a form of poor relief in time of hunger, the local tenants quarried the stone for and built the dykes in return for oatmeal, given by the local Laird. 

Currently in the UK, we have a a reasonably good social security system.  We have the National Health Service (Department of Health expenditure £98.6 billion in 2008-9)  and many ways of supporting those in need.  My feeling is that this might not always be the case.  In an economic downturn (currently the budget defecit is £149 billion) and facing an energy crisis, with the added financial burdens which climate change will place upon the state, I am concerned that the infrastructure and social systems of the state will be severely strained. 

With the recent food price rises, and the likely future doubling of basic food prices  highlighted by Oxfam, which will force millions more into hunger, and the fragility of our food supply, I wonder how we will cope. 

How will we deal with the social issues around food?  Will we repeat history and have rations doled out by someone who is living in relative luxury?  Will we adopt a more mutualist approach, where if you contribute to the community you get food/support from the community?  Or will we go for the more idealistic "from each according to his/her means to each according to his/her needs" communist approach?
Will we rise to the occaision as our best selves or fall into warlordism and gang mentality?

Other questions arise from this, how will the less able fare?  Will we watch families struggle to support someone deemed to be a non-contributor?
 I think that most of us would find it difficult to watch another go hungry, but we are speaking from the position of the well fed.   I wonder if these are questions which we or our children will have to answer in the not too distant future.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Good News!

The reported legally binding "green deal", to be announced by Chris Huhne is excellent news!  The government's acceptance of the Climate Change Committee's recommendations for the Fourth Carbon Budget governing emissions reduction through the 2020s.  It commits the UK to carbon emissions cuts of 80% (relative to 1990 levels) by 2050 and an intermediary target of a 60% cut (relative to 1990) by 2030. 
This is huge!
 After the much publicised cabinet split and the concerted efforts of several green campaigning groups. For the government to actually sign on to do this is really good.  While my cynical self wonders whether this is just more politicising in order to be seen to be "the greenest government ever" , it is still a  very good thing! 

Now it remains to be seen if we can do it. 

It is to be hoped that green technology companies will be encouraged by this to invest in UK sites, but when you consider the issues, which I have mentioned previously on this blog and when you consider the estimated average £40-50 billion needing to be spent each year between now and 2030  to upgrade and repair our necessary infrastructure in order to adapt to climate change.  I feel that there is reason to be concerned.

Friday, 13 May 2011

Cold War 2?

As Newsnight reports tonight, Wikileaks has revealed leaked diplomatic cables indicating the forthcoming carve up of the Arctics resources and an alarming comment from Professor Peter Wadhams about the likliehood of an ice free North Pole within 3 years. 

The Conservative government in Canada under Steven Harper and Putin's Russia have both previously made inflammatory statements indicating their territorial ambitons and desire for a large share of the Arctics resources. 
With the the involvment of the US and Denmark (which still rules Greenland) (both  member states, along with Canada), one wonders whether NATO  is likely to play a role, although Steven Harper has publicly expressed antipathy to this idea.  

As the Arctic ice melts and the bonanza of its fossil resources is opened up, it is vitally important that we remember the reality of climate change.  We must not get caught up in nationalism and our desire for that dangerous OD hit of  cheap energy. The consequences would be far too heavy. 

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Hands off our land

As part of the continuing Red Tape Challenge, it has been revealed by The Independent that Eric Pickles, the Communities Secretary, is considering ending the obligation upon councils to provide plots of land for allotments. 
This is Not Good! 

In February it was revealed that Saudi Arabia's oil reverves may have been overstated by up to 40% suggesting that Peak Oil may be even closer than we suspected.  Considering the embedded energy in our food as well as the need to reduce our environmental footprint and reduce our food miles, this decision by the government seems bizarre. 

The assumption that we will all have a garden to "grow our own" ignores all the urban flat dwellers and others who do not.

The potential of allotments as growing spaces, as social regreening and reskilling hubs in the urban wasteland, should not be underestimated.  They can help to empower people, enable us to reconnect with the land and to take personal responsibility for addressing some of the urgent issues of our time.  Even leaving all that aside, it is difficult to see how the government can justify its plans given the growing demand for allotment space; demands that, in some areas, have resulted in 10-year waiting lists of people keen to rent this land in order to grow their own fresh produce. 

The outrage over this policy is growing.  To join the campaign, you can visit LandShare.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Not only in America

Just a short post. 
If you thought that climate change denial was only a US phenomenon, think again. 

With reference to the UK government's Red Tape Challenge, the Repeal the Climate Change Act Group have launched a petition to repeal the Climate Change Act. 

What can I say....

Monday, 18 April 2011

GreenTape?

The UK government has announced the Red Tape Challenge in an attempt to get feedback on what legislation is working and what is not (matters of national security are exempt) .   The idea is that every few weeks they publish all the regulations affecting one particular sector or industry.  We can comment on the legislation and say what (in our opinion) is working and what is not.  Based on the feedback they recieve, the government can act to reduce the red tape. 

While this could be a very good opportunity to make our opinions known and may be an excellent time to propose measures such as  the Robin Hood Tax , or other measures such as a carbon tax or a personal carbon ration, what has alarmed many environmentalists is the inclusion of all 278 UK environmental laws, such as the Climate change Act, The Clean Air Act, The Wildlife and Contryside Act on the list. 

Given the recent proposal by this government to sell off English Woodlands and the Conservative's historical commitment to "the national economic interest" , it is no wonder that there is alarm.   "Green fatigue" and outright denial of climate change by some members of society leads me to worry about relying on popular opinion to preserve these laws. 

Much of our environmental legislation is vital to protection the health and wellbeing of our land, our mental health and our future.    It is essential that this legislation is not scrapped or weakened to impotence, in favour of short term economic gain.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Dryas reprise?

The Guardian today has reported on findings to be published by CLAMER (Climate Change and European Marine Ecosystem Research) an EU funded research project. 

It appears that there is a huge and growing volume of fresh water in the midst of the Arctic Ocean, meltwater from the icecap and runoff from rivers.  At some point, it is expected that this volume (or a large part of it), of freshwater will flow into the Atlantic Ocean.  It is unknown what effect this will have. 

The big fear is that it may disrupt  Thermohaline Circulation.  This is what is most commonly thought to be the main cause of the Younger Dryas Event  around 12,900 years ago.  Which resulted in a rapid return to glacial conditions in the North. 

If  we are facing  a new younger dryas-like event, it could have very severe consequences for northern nation states. 

Monday, 21 March 2011

Earth Hour 2011

In five days, on Saturday 26th March, the largest voluntary eco-action so far is going to happen.  Earth Hour 2011  is set to be huge!  The theme is to switch off for the hour ( starting 8.30pm UK) and , importantly, to think about actions beyond the hour. 

Think about all the fun things you can do in the dark, from having a candlelit dinner, to going for a walk, to fire breathing... the list is only limited by your imagination.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Savage Cuts

The Republicans in the US are wielding the financial axe with gusto and determination. 

They plan to deny all funding to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and are also proposing to heavily cut the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)'s budget.  They are targeting the EPA's recent move to regulate greenhouse gases by denying $8.4 million to its greenhouse gas registry, and by preventing it, through spending vetoes, from regulating emissions from power stations and cement factories.  The ability of the EPA to enforce regulations covering mountaintop removal coal mining will also be curtailed by targeted funding cuts. 

Montana State Representative Joe Read (Republican), demonstrates blatant, if short-sighted, economic self interest in a bill he introduced to the Montana State Legislature (HB 549).

Part of the bill reads....
The legislature finds:
a) global warming is beneficial to the welfare to the and business climate of Montana;
b) reasonable amounts of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere have no verifiable effects on the environment; and
c) global warming is a natural occurence and human activity has not accelerated it.   

Denial, denial, denial.   

Greenhouse gases do not respect national borders.  The gutting of the EPA and the IPCC will likely severely affect their ability to research, regulate and inform. 

As the US struggles to economically outcompete China, its emissions will increase adding more to the atmospheric burden.  With less regulation and less internationally disseminated research,  the rate of this addition is likely to increase. 

This will impact on us all.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Oncoming train

The Wikileaks US Diplomatic cable reported recently by the Guardian makes for very scary reading.  The idea that Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil exporter may have overstated its reserves by nearly 40% is actually very worrying, when you consider the consequences. 

With the price of crude oil at (on average) nearly $100 US a barrel and the huge input of oil into our industrialised food industry, it is no wonder that the UN FAO is reporting that the FAO Food Price Index (FFPI) rose last month, for the seventh consecutive month and is the highest since 1990. 

At home, the Guardian reports that two thirds of British pig farms are facing collapse within two years and that the price of pork is going to rise due to the increased cost of feeding

We must wake up and take drastic action to avoid the worst consequences of being hit by this oncoming train.  We are running out of time.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Save UK forests

The parliamentary vote on the UK Government proposal to sell off publicly owned forests in the UK is tomorrow.  Opposition to the proposal is growing.  If you have not already done so, you can email your MP and/or sign the petition here 

Our forests are vital as carbon sinks, wildlife habitats, for recreation and education.  Let's keep them in public ownership.

Filthy Money

The Canadian Energy Minister, Ron Liepert, has been visiting the UK to promote the Alberta Tar Sands as a "leading source of secure energy."

This has to do with the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) being negotiated between the EU and Canada (for the last 2 years), which is due to be finalised in 2012.

Of particular concern is the clause (reported by the Guardian), allowing corporations to sue states for compensation if they feel that their profits have been unfairly compromised. This is outrageous! What is more worrying is that this type of clause is not unusual. For example, Uruguay, folding under pressure from big tobacco or Dow Chemicals' legal action over Quebec's ban of 2, 4-D.

If CETA goes ahead, it may have an impact on the review of the EU Fuel Quality Directive, which is looking at whether to discriminate against carbon intensive fuels. This is certainly the concern of the UK Tar Sands Network, and a not unreasonable concern, looking at history.

Will we as taxpayers be forced in future to pay for compensation to Tar Sands investors?

A related, subsidiary point connected with this issue is the UK Government stake in The Royal Bank of Scotland, which has been investing in the Alberta Tar Sands.

What signal does this send to developing countries facing restrictions in order to be greener?

Friday, 7 January 2011

Forebodings fulfilled

The Republican majority in the US Congress has wasted no time.  The Guardian newspaper reports that on their first full day, the Republicans have put forward three bills which are aimed at limiting the scope and authority of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), specifically its authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.

The three bills have been put forward by the Representatives of  Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia and propose to remove greenhouse gas emissions from governance under the Clean Air Act, reversing a 2007 Supreme Court ruling.  The second proposal aims to block funding to any US government agency involved in cap-and-trade.  The third proposal is more modest (and possibly therefore more likely to pass) and it proposes a 2 year delay on the EPA management of carbon dioxide and methane emissions. 

This is after they dissolved  The Select Comittee for Energy Independence and Global Warming and after Rep. Darrel Issa (Republican California), who is now head of the new House Comittee on Oversight and Government Reform, has been asking business interests (many of them contributors to the Republican Party) what Obama Administration regulations they find most irksome. 

The "National Economic Interest" triumphs again.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

New Year thoughts

As we enter 2011, I have some foreboding. 

In the US, the Republican majority in Congress leads me to suspect that the climate will be downplayed in favour of the economy (more than it has been previously).  
In the UK the coalition government has plans to sell off our forests and the second reading of the Energy Bill was described  by one peer as "a dogs breakfast"  . 

It remains to be seen whether this foreboding is justified, or if it is just the usual post seasonal blues.