A Weblog monitoring coverage of environmental issues and science in the UK media. By Professor Emeritus Philip Stott. The aim is to assess whether a subject is being fairly covered by press, radio, and television. Above all, the Weblog will focus on science, but not just on poor science. It will also bring to public notice good science that is being ignored because it may be politically inconvenient.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Trading carbon claptrap.....

A prime example of the farcical outcome of the nonsense that is the Kyoto Protocol is unquestionably the European Emissions Trading Scheme. The idea that this will have a predictable impact on climate change is just carbon claptrap, a political sleight of hand that must be exposed at all costs.

Currently, only two countries have managed to cobble together a working scheme, namely The Netherlands and Denmark. No fewer than 17 EU countries have failed totally to agree any sort of plan with Brussels. And the star recalcitrant in all this? You've guessed it: Mr. Blair's 'We-will-take-a-world-lead-on-global-warming' UK.

Indeed, Margaret Beckett, the ever pragmatic Environment Secretary, is now to produce new emission allowances that are even more generous to intensive energy users and power generators, declaring (of course, quite correctly in my opinion): "Projections suggested that if we stuck with the original formula, it would have had a devastating effect on our industry." Quite so.

The cock-a-doodle doo that is the Kyoto Protocol is coming home to roost. There is no way that its 'command-and-control' approach will ever work, even within a capitalist trading framework, in the face of much needed growth in the world economy. The costs are impossible, with significant rises in energy costs (emission trading alone is predicted to account for a 30% rise in UK energy costs during 2005), increased uncompetitiveness (with China, India et al., who have no such hair-shirt constraints), and, of course, job losses.

But the real irony is this: if the scheme were working properly, it would still encourage an overall increase in European carbon emissions. What a political con! I nearly feel sorry for the Greens. They have been taken for a Blackpool big dipper of a joy-ride.

And, what a mess we have got ourselves into with this foolish notion that we can manage climate predictably by fiddling at the margins with just one factor out of the millions involved. It is going to end in tears. Unfortunately, the vested interests in peddling the myth are today so entrenched that it will require spades of common sense and effort to dig ourselves out of the utopian mire.

Energy policy should always be predicated on energy needs, not on ridiculous notions about controlling the uncontrollable.

Philip, feeling more like Heracleitus daily, observing such patent carbon claptrap from his little cave. Coffee?

[New counter, June 19, 2006, with loss of some data]

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