May 18, 2006

The who what now?

Writing about web page http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/4985332.stm

Forgive me if I'm being daft, I'm sleep deprived and in the middle of my finals (and hard at work as you can tell) but I really don't understand the above link, which is complaining about carbon trading. I'll put the headlines here for those that don't follow the link:

"But the latest figures for the ETS (that's European Trading Scheme, which trades carbon emissions on the open market)– started in January 2005 and heralded as a template for such schemes – revealed that 21 of the 25 member states produced 2.5% less CO2 in 2005 than participants had forecast."

Right. Great news surely? Apparently not…

""The whole point of any [carbon trading] scheme is that what is given out is less than what would have been released," said James Wilde, head of strategy at the Carbon Trust, which helps organisations cut their carbon emissions."

Ok. So what's been said here is that we're trading carbon and trying to combat climate change, yet actually we don't have enough carbon emissions to make the trading system to work as well as it should. So we can now meet more reductions in the knowledge that we're emitting less than we forecast. Can someone please explain why emitting less carbon is a bad thing!

The article then goes on to claim that trading schemes "fail to encourage meaningful investment in carbon reducing technologies" (despite the fact that our emissions are 2.5% down on predictions). The article finishes by suggesting that China is not obliged to cut carbon dioxide emissions by any international agreement (a fact, but I hear no suggestions as to what we should do about this from anyone) and that we're in denial about climate change and carbon emissions.

Let's examine the facts. Emissions are down on predictions. That's the news. Therefore for whatever reason, we are emitting less carbon than we thought we would. This can scientifically only be a good thing, if CO2 emissions are proportional to global temperature rises and climate change (although not quite such good news if the reductions aren't happening fast enough, but I see nothing in this article that really argues that). By reasoning I don't at all understand, this is bad and shows we're not doing out bit, and that carbon trading is a failure and we need to change our habits and blah blah blah.

If anyone ever needed compelling evidence that ecomentalists are desperate to find things to moan about and won't be satisfied until we're all living in caves, it's right here.


- 7 comments by 1 or more people Not publicly viewable

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  1. Re: China: When they're feeling more talkative (i.e. dependent on us for exports), isn't that the time to threaten them with tariffs if they don't stop pumping out CO2? Sadly I don't think there's much we can do at the moment.

    18 May 2006, 15:49

  2. Chris – I fully agree. Free trade is all well and good, but I think that it has it's limits because all it sees is price as the leveller. Examples I like to cite of this are chiefly to do with agriculture (we have higher standards of treating animals here, so it's more expensive to farm, so we import cheap meat that's not farmed as well and cheap produce that's farmed less responsibly) and manufacturing (we have laws governing pollution, workers rights etc, so we manufacture most of our goods abroad where these rules aren't present or enforced and our own stuff is undercut). To me it seems that the legislation has the opposite effect of what it's trying to achieve – the environment is worse off for it. I'm not opposed to the principle of protecting the environment with legislation, but because it's not joined up with other practical knock–on effects in practice it achieves the reverse.

    18 May 2006, 16:05

  3. The crucial bit is what the members forecast. It's not a reduction in CO2 emissions merely less than they thought it would be. As you know, the UK emissions have risen in the last two years as we use more coal to produce electricity instead of gas and the emissions from road transport continue to rise. The issue the article is pointing at is that the forecast was deliberately high in order that they could say they were under the forecasted case. In real terms I expect CO2 emissions have risen.

    It would be nice to have an impact on emissions of countries not subject to trading as well, but I suspect the only way that will happen is a rise in the raw energy price, so for that reason alone we should hope the price of oil continues to rise and similarly for oil equivalent energies.

    As a sidenote I see there are three Chris' very active on blogs this afternoon! Ahh revision avoidance… see you at half 5

    18 May 2006, 16:15

  4. I see – that makes a little more sense then. I didn't know that emissions had risen here and I wasn't aware we were using more coal (still that can't be such a bad thing, at least it's not oil/gas which is too expensive right now!). Bring on the nukes I say. And as for trading… I believe it has it's uses.

    18 May 2006, 16:32

  5. Yes it does have its uses, but only if they'd done what they should have done and set the number of certificates based on 1990 emissions which is their 'target year' and then worked on that not on an arbitary forecast. If you hope to reduce to a target first you have to set one.

    We've been using more coal because of the price of gas has risen to the point where its getting less cost competitive and because emissions aren't really being heavily taxed a switch to coal is more economically viable. Go figure.

    Anyway its in your interest that coal, oil and gas prices rise if you want to get proper (breeder) technology adopted – that needs investment to be viable, and that will only come through high prices. Except we'll end up with a new wave of thermal reactors because they are cheaper, never mind they use less than 1% of the fuel not 90+%

    18 May 2006, 16:45

  6. It's not in my interests that oil prices rise whilst it's still so heavily taxed for private users only. If power companies had to pay what we pay at the pumps you'd see ground being broken on about 50 new nuclear power stations tomorrow morning at 8AM sharp. Bastards.

    18 May 2006, 17:01

  7. Christopher Paterson

    Far too many Christophers here.

    Perhaps it's just that it's late, but I couldn't make a great deal of sense out of that article. Seemed extremely biased to me.

    26 May 2006, 23:54


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