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.