31 January 2013 - "As with all great ideas, C&C is deceptively simple." Prof Brendan Mackey Griffiths University Austalia
"As with all great ideas, C&C is deceptively simple, addresses the root causes of the problem, and is recognized as a grave threat to those vested interests who fear the climate change problem’s successful resolution because of the fundamental changes it will wrought on our economic status quo." [Page 40] Professor Brendan Mackey
Director, Griffith Climate Change Response Program
Griffith University, Queensland, Australia
30 January 2013 - "Law in a finite world - C&C & Living within our limits." Michelle Maloney Australian Wildlaw Alliance
Acceptance of ecological integrity, planetary boundaries, rights of nature as legal principles which could be applied to the entire legal system rather than just environmental law (all levels of law)
Law would play a role in creating positive regulatory frameworks for living within our limits
Ethical considerations and collective decision making (deliberative democracy, social and environmental justice)
Regulatory frameworks for institutionalising ‘limits tools’ (eg ecological footprints)
Planning laws (water, land allocation) actually linked to physical realities
Regulatory incentives – renewable energy
Laws at various ‘scales’ – nested - for setting ‘budgets’ for living within limits
• Eg International law – Planetary boundaries, WEO
• National level – eg UK Climate Change Law, carbon budget
• Use of Contraction and Convergence model
29 January 2013 - "Lincoln's political genius has lessons for C&C." Team of Rivals, the book Lincoln movie is based on.
Lincoln's political genius - celebrated in this book - was in securing Amendment 13 to the US Constitution, outlawing slavery and so ending the Civil War. Recognising that Principle precedes practice, the essence of this victory lay in persuading his supporters to argue for equality under the law rather than just against racial inequality. He convinced them it was a more effective argument. Success with this immobilised his opposition, as they too understood that to argue for inequality under the law was obviously absurd and would not carry. The record shows that it didn't.
The same lesson applies to C&C advocacy. Arguing for equality of emissions-entitlement under the limit that governs UNFCCC-compliance is the constitutional point that unites and links us all to survival. At best, arguing per se against the poverty that divides us, treats the issue as a concomitant of UNFCCC-compliance. While this simply continues a quite noble 'war against poverty', applying the C&C principle is arguing for the constitutional basis that makes winning it actually possible.
The first page of this remarkable book. Read it. See the Movie. Be profoundly moved.
It will make you weep and the correspondences with the C&C history
will make you weep some more.
"The conduct of the republican party in this nomination is a remarkable indication of small intellect, growing smaller.
They pass over
statesmen and able men, and they take up a fourth rate lecturer, who cannot speak good grammar." The New York Herald (May 19, 1860), commenting on Abraham Lincoln's nomination for president at the Republican National Convention
"Why, if the old Greeks had had this man, what trilogies of plays-what epics-would have been made out of him! How the rhapsodes would have recited him! How quickly that quaint tall form would have enter'd into the region where men vitalize gods, and gods divinify men! But Lincoln, his times, his death-great as any, any age belong altogether to our own." Walt Whitman, "Death of Abraham Lincoln ," 1879
"The greatness of Napoleon, Caesar or Washington is only moonlight by the sun of Lincoln. His example is universal and will last thousands of years . . . He was bigger than his country --- bigger than all the Presidents together . . . and as a great character he will live as long as the world lives." Leo Tolstoy, The World, New York, 1909
29 January 2013 - "Of all regimes C&C has been analysed most often." Biermann et al Global Climate Governance
Universal regimes with a predefined emission target - Contraction and Convergence
"Of all the regimes, the ‘contraction and convergence’ regime has been analysed most often. The most crucial reason is its simple formulation - which makes it a good reference for any form of allocation. The first step in the 'contraction and convergence’ regime is to establish a long-term global emission profile. Then emission rights are allocated so that the per capita emissions converge from their current values to a global average in a specified target year [Meyer 2000]." "Global Climate Governance Beyond 2012" on C&C Frank Biermann, Philipp Pattberg, Fariborz Zelli
29 January 2013 - "The Buck Stops Here." Civitas reports on climate change in the Obama inagural speech.
Part of President Obama's inaugural address concerned an astonishing position on the climate change issue:
"We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity. We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms. The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But America cannot resist this transition; we must lead it. We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries – we must claim its promise. That is how we will maintain our economic vitality and our national treasure – our forests and waterways; our croplands and snowcapped peaks. That is how we will preserve our planet, commanded to our care by God. That’s what will lend meaning to the creed our fathers once declared."
With that, a Bicameral Climate Change Task Force has just now been established, co-chaired by Rep. Waxman, the Ranking Member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Sen. Whitehouse, the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight for the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. This article has a link to an important letter that was written by them to President Obama, establishing that the United States must assert its leadership in addressing climate change. This is in response to an overwhelming petition by the public regarding a climate change discussion to the then-candidates during the debates, which was deflected by both parties.
This immensely important issue was thus put out in front as a major domestic crisis, requiring the attention and the resources of the entire country. What has been left unsaid is how this shift in position will play out in the global sphere.
The world is looking towards the USA and China to step up to this issue in an immediate and substantive way, and reaffirm the 2 degree climate change limit that was a global target at Durban in 2012. Both countries are the biggest emissions sources, and they remain outside the agreement framework that is trying to be established. This can't continue because the carbon emissions are already exceeding the limits of the 2 degree impact.
This leadership by the USA is critically necessary even as other countries and many corporations prepare for a warmer and more volatile planet. These carbon emissions must be reduced by all countries very quickly, or there's no future for the world's people and its living systems.
Proportional harmonies, the structures of Phi and the underlying quantum mechanics are the inherent patterns of the universe. Understanding these is achieved through many paths of inquiry - mathematics, music, natural science, philosophy and religious practice. They tie together as universal patterns and channels of energy, and are also expressed in the structures of music, which explains the video above.
These are inherent properties and relational structures to all things in the universe, as Einstein, Bell and Bohm discovered, and they are now beginning to be understood as parts of the whole interconnected life that nature and human society is bound by. Understanding this impact of human societies on the earth's systems is a crucial part of coming to grips with this energetic structure that plays out in nature. Its creativity and intelligence is orders of magnitude greater than our own, yet resonates with us.
As soon as we understand that in this biosphere the balance of these things is critical to life, and that there are limits to its tolerance for the degradation of extractive processes and the unbinding of carbon that took the earth millenniums to absorb, the path forward to a collective way of life that balances within the earth's natural bounds will become evident. The synchronicity of this approach is embedded in the Eden Project and its association with the C&C method of carbon reduction.
May we enter a new beginning with the understanding of the true challenges of the world before us.
28 January 2013 - "C&C reason why egalitarianism has risen to great prominence?" Red/Green Debate Compass
The most influential political philosopher of our time remains the late John Rawls. His political philosophy of liberalism and his ‘two principles’ of justice are backed by much of the ‘left’ in the English-speaking world as (allegedly) a sufficient philosophical undergirding for its views, its policies, its fundamental stance. Rawls suggests that a ‘liberal socialism’ (or, in practice, a liberal social democracy) is one possible outcome of his thinking; this position is very popular for instance among those in the Fabian Society in Britain today, and is largely dominant even among ‘leftist’ academics. This surprises me, for reasons which will in part become clear below. I do not think that Rawls is a figure who should be taken seriously by the left – and I shall argue here that left-leaning greens certainly cannot take his philosophy seriously.
Rawls’s ‘celebrated’ difference principle says in essence that inequalities are justified if they lead to more income and wealth for the worst off in society. My argument in this article is that this principle is highly likely to be empty of consequences, unless it is a license for ecologically and socially unsustainable practices and modes of social organisation.
What is money?
What, to be slightly more precise, is having a different amount of money – more money, say; more income or wealth than other people? It is the ability to acquire for oneself a share of (the fruits of) their labour-time, and/or the ability to acquire for oneself a share of the Earth’s resources larger than theirs. The Earth’s resources, such as land and all it yields, are our natural capital. Yet they are treated by John Rawls, as by conventional economists, primarily as income. If one has a greater share than others of such income, as is of course allowed under Rawls’s famous ‘difference principle’, one is taking more natural capital than others.
Such takings are only seriously constrained, in Rawls’s system, by the ‘just savings’ principle, which regulates (by a sort of inter-generational application of the difference principle) the degree to which one is allowed to degrade the environment: one must not disadvantage the worst off in future generations by such takings. But it now starts to look as if the difference principle will be either ecologically unsustainable or empty of non-egalitarian implications.
Well, it will be empty of non-egalitarian implications – it will be extensionally equivalent to a true egalitarianism – if it turns out that any departure between incomes – any significant difference in outcome of the kind that Rawls’s principles of justice allow – produces a result that is ecologically unsustainable, and thus violates the ‘just savings’ principle, on a sound reading of that principle. And we have some good reason to believe that that will be so.
One such reason that has risen to great prominence is the ‘contraction and convergence’ model being applied by many of those climate scientists and political thinkers and leaders in the ‘developing’ world who are looking beyond the Kyoto Protocol to a method of checking manmade climate change that will actually work – and that will be just. Those advocating ‘contraction and convergence’ argue that we must build down the levels of CO2 emissions.
The same model, I would suggest, can and in time surely will be applied to some of the other pollutants that would otherwise threaten the future of life on Earth, such as some long-lasting synthetics, and possibly even most non-renewable resources, including oil) produced by rich countries to a level to which the poor countries should be permitted to increase their emissions (to allow poorer countries as much development as they wish for, so long as it is truly sustainable development). In other words, that all countries should ‘eventually’ – within a time scale sufficient to stabilise the Earth’s climate (and that time scale may well now be shorter than a decade) – harmonise their CO2 emissions at a level that the planetary ecosystem can tolerate.
How can the income that comes from taking natural capital and turning it into waste that is unsustainably harmful beyond a certain level justly be distributed according to the difference principle, if that principle results in any significant differences? It cannot. The finitude of our shared ecosystem cannot tolerate any significant differences produced by the difference principle, except at the cost of injustice.
Any departure from the contraction and convergence model – any special pleading during the period of convergence, or any lack of willingness to converge or to agree to the contracted overall level of CO2 emissions – if it be licensed by the difference principle would be so only at the cost of injustice. It would cost future generations, in particular. It would cost the Earth.
We must then start to take seriously a future in which there will be no difference in the level of non-renewable resources permitted to each person, and no difference in the level of potentially dangerous waste products permitted to each person. And ‘each person’ is each present or future person. A growthist expansion of the pie in order to distribute it so that the worst off become as well off as possible will harm future people, in that it will cost the Earth, in that the ‘pie’ has been expanded only because of more ingredients for it having been dug up and so on. In other words, the pie that we distribute has to have been made of something, but the ingredients are running out, and the process of baking the pie is baking us all (leading to the onset of dangerous climate change).
The only possible response a Rawlsian can make, I think, is to claim that inequalities can still be justified, if they lead to greater efficiencies in the use of resources than equal shares would yield, and thus will still benefit the worst off, even in a world with ecological limits. But just how plausible is this response, in such a world? For, in a world with ecological limits, in a steadystate economy, then one person having more than another is likely to be a permanent state of affairs, and how psychologically and socially tenable will this be? Permanent disparities in resources, one person or class having more than another for the alleged good of all – will just not wash, in a world where the allocation of resources is a zero-sum game, because of ecological limits. Rawlsian liberalism will be socially unsustainable in such ecologically confined circumstances as we are now entering into.
So Rawls does not provide an adequate philosophical basis for socialism. Rawls’s justification for inequality – the ‘difference principle’ – is a dangerous distraction that must now be dropped, in favour of egalitarianism. In an era when at lastwe begin to take ecological limits seriously, and seriously to question the shibboleth of economic growth, the time is long past in which we can take a liberal political philosophy – which in effect enshrines consumerism as holy writ – seriously. It is time instead for a genuinely egalitarian and ecological political philosophy to take centre stage (I am working on such a philosophy; see my forthcoming book, The End of Liberalism and the Dawn of Permanent Culture). And such egalitarianism must fully include future people (on which, see my article in Open Democracy37), and not only present people. It is obscene to talk about socialism in a way that involves ‘enriching’ only those alive today.
Arguing that everybody should be able to fly at will is arguing that we should be allowed collectively to stamp on the faces of our children as yet unborn. Thus there can be no socialism that is not an ecosocialism. For only ecosocialism, as indicated for instance in the work of Gorz and of Joel Kovel, can claim to be taking seriously the claims of future people, their ungainsayable need to inherit a sound ecosystem. This will ultimately require the sublation of capitalism. It is perhaps worth adding that this socialism for the future, based on principles of equal shares (equal shares in the atmosphere, in energy and so on), is likely furthermore to have wider beneficial social and health effects, just as food rationing and a greater level of income equality did, to the surprise of many, in and after the Second World War. In the postwar decade from 1945 to 1955 working class diets, nutrition and health outcomes significantly improved, especially among the young, despite – or rather, because of – the ‘austerity’ of life conditions.
The same principle should apply now to carbon emissions, energy consumption and so on. There will be numerous significant and unanticipated advantages of this new green socialism, socially, physically, psychologically. A healthier population with higher well-being would result. Socialism requires a serious movement toward equality now – a movement of the kind that has been powerfully argued for recently by Danny Dorling, Wilkinson and Pickett, and others – and a simultaneous, parallel movement to treat future 37 R. Read, ‘The last refuge of prejudice’, Open Democracy, 11 December 2009, www.opendemocracy.net/rupert-read/last-refugeof-prejudice
A realignment of the mind people (and in a certain sense animals, though this is a topic for a future occasion) as our equals too. There is no way of avoiding the conclusion that any true socialism worthy of the name must now be a genuinely and widely egalitarian ecosocialism. It is no longer possible to be a red without taking absolutely seriously the need to be deeply green.
"Greenpeace supports the principles behind the Greenhouse Development Rights (GDR) framework and considers it to be the
rules-based proposal that matches our principles most closely. The
GDR framework puts forward three criteria: historic emissions (starting
from 1990); current per capita emissions; and per capita income (but
only for those inhabitants with an income above €7,500 a year PPP)."
There was a trenchant critique of Greenpeace and the NGOs on 'Global Dashboard' here: -
It rather underlines that, however vigorously they defend this farrago, it is just more NGO chaos and failure.
The lesson for them should be that those who refuse to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
In practice, the policies of Northern Countries and Northern dominated global institutions continue to widen inequalities - increasing Northern resource consumption and maintaining flows of resources and money [in debt repayments] from South to North. The arguments aired above lead to advocacy of the distribution technique known as ‘grandfathering’ [where for example the rights to burn fossil fuels would be allocated in proportion to current rates of use]. Most proposals for implementation in the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change [UN 1997], such as ‘Joint Implementation’ and the ‘Clean Development Mechanism’, implicitly assume a distribution of emissions rights on this basis. The equitable alternative would be to allocate consumption or pollution rights according to population, in accordance with a planned transition to equal consumption. An example of this for fossil fuel use is the “Contraction and Convergence” scenario promoted by the Global Commons Institute and supported by the GLOBE group of parliamentarians [GCI-Meyer 2000]. One implication of the analysis presented below is that ‘compensation’ should be added to “Contraction and Convergence”.
There is a very pragmatic imperative for pursuing such strategies - which is that the participation of developing countries is essential in global programmes to deal with problems such as climate change - and politically such participation will not be achieved without a commitment by the North to increase equity. Moreover the needs of Developing Countries to increase economic consumption to escape poverty cannot be met by simply increasing efficiency - they will need to increase real levels of material resource use. In the absence of voluntary reductions in the North, some of these limited resources - such as oil and water - may well become, even more than at present, a reason for conflict and war. (Myers 1996).
Equity-base strategies for cutting overall global consumption levels would have wider implications, by directly challenging the legitimacy of export-led development and globalization policies which increase resource exploitation. At present the global economy is dominated by policies which increase resource exploitation and practices which drive in this direction. For example ‘structural adjustment programmes’ - promoted by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank as a condition for debt rescheduling - stress measures to earn foreign currency and improve the balance of payments. This basically means increasing commodity exports whilst cutting social expenditure [Watkins 1995]. In parallel, Northern countries support and even subsidize exports of equipment and infrastructure needed to exploit forests, fisheries, minerals and petroleum through export credit agencies [Hildyard 1999]. Just Sustainabilities: Development in an Unequal World (Urban and Industrial Environments)
Universal regimes with a predefined emission target - Contraction and Convergence
"Of all the regimes, the ‘contraction and convergence’ regime has been analysed most often. The most crucial reason is its simple formulation - which makes it a good reference for any form of allocation. The first step in the 'contraction and convergence’ regime is to establish a long-term global emission profile. Then emission rights are allocated so that the per capita emissions converge from their current values to a global average in a specified target year [Meyer 2000]." "Global Climate Governance Beyond 2012" on C&C Frank Biermann, Philipp Pattberg, Fariborz Zelli
27 January 2013 - "C&C has the potential to contribute highly to global justice." Enough is Plenty, Anne B Ryan
"A Contraction and Convergence framework of global quotas has the potential to contribute highly to global justice. The recent “make poverty history” movement has demonstrated a moral awakening and a will among the affluent to see justice created worldwide. But with this, as with so many other things, individuals cannot create new systems. Global quotas can create new sytems and new forms of wealth and ensure that wealth is evenly pre-distributed to all citizens of the globe. The trading of quotas brings money to poor countries as a right, not as aid. By insisting on equity, Convergence addresses the objections of “less developed” economies to paying for the damage caused by the developed affluent communities. Poor and vulnerable countries and communities are most at risk from the climate change that results from global warming, even thought they are least responsible for causing the problem. And those who are already cash-poor have fewer immediate resources for escaping from or coping with the effects of climate change. Trading in quotas is a way to create a rights of greater social justice." "Enough Is Plenty: Public and Private Policies for the 21st Century"
Anne B Ryan
I would indeed like to support GCI's C&C Proposal to the UNFCCC.
27 January 2013 - "I got it so wrong." [Ain't that the truth]. Will Nicholas' [U]-Sterns never stop?
GCI’s initial contributions to the ‘Stern-Review’ were in 2005. They were the two polite and constructive letters on pages 4 & 5 of this document. The resource materials to which these letters refer are reproduced here in full from page 14 to page 96.
The Review would be published in 2006 [the one he now says he got so wrong] but why when this happened Nicholas Stern chose to ignore all this input [quite uniquely, the rest was all acknowledged] and instead just to denouce C&C in his Review and to deny a successful campaign of 17 years, remains a complete mystery.
His subsequent denunciation of C&C as ‘spectucular inequity’ and then as‘rights-to-kill’ in the American Economics Review is evidence of a growing pathology that was taken to the extreme in his interview on-camera with Colin Challen MP in Poznan at COP-14 in 2008 [page 12]. Nicholas Stern would certainly have known that Colin had already presented a C&C Private Members Bill in the UK House of Commons [pages 66 to 69 of this document].
It has been suggested that all Stern was really doing in his Whitehall games of Snakes and Ladders was to try and get revenge for being forced under legal pressure from Cambridge University Press [CUP] [see page 5 of this document] and the Government, properly to source to GCI the C&C that he decided [initially] to denounce in the ‘Review that he has now denounced.
These days Nicholas U-Stern just goes on and on turning turtle . . . . His latest episode [in the Guardian Jan 2013 - he rivals George Monbiot for U Turns now] is to recant saying ‘how wrong he was’ in his 2005 review . . . .
‘Ain’t that the truth’; while he completely ignored GCI’s original messages on 'urgency' and what to do about it, those messages could not have been clearer.
What can one do but just watch the shrivelling effect of all this cant and shrink at the march of ‘great men’ and their tiny minds.
However, in 2008 the UK Climate Act would clearly be based on C&C.
It would be defended as such by Adair Turner Chair of the UK Climate Change Committee and many by others and in this connection, Aubrey Meyer would be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by a cross-party committee of UK MPs.
Martin explained, “Aubrey Meyer may not yet be a household name, here in Britain, or indeed, in many other parts of the world. Yet his work is absolutely central to the global fight against climate change.” The Nobel Institute recognised how important the climate change challenge is to the future of our planet last year, when it awarded the prize jointly to Al Gore and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for raising awareness about this environmental threat. “We believe that it would, now, be right to recognise the man who has done most to provide an international solution to averting the disaster of global warming.” Aubrey Meyer realised that we need a comprehensive climate change framework if we are to protect our planet. He founded the Global Commons Initiative in 1990 that developed just such a framework known as “contraction and convergence”.
This is the logical way forward. The human race reduces its carbon footprint towards zero at the same time as greenhouse gas emissions on a per capita basis in developed and developing nations converge. If his initiative was recognised now then it would send exactly the right message to world leaders as we consider what comes after the end of the Kyoto round in 2012.
27 January 2013 - "C&C? No other choices left if we are to avert disaster." Progress or Collapse Roberto di Vogli
The developed world must not only help poor countries with these issues, but also commit to the principle that each world citizen has an equal entitlement to the atmosphere. This means that everyone must accept that we all have an equal right to emit the same amount of carbon dioxide. In recent years, there have been various proposals to tackle climate change on the basis of this principle.
More than two decades ago, Aubrey Meyer, founder of the Global Commons Institute, proposed a model called 'contraction & convergence' to reduce greenhouse gas emissions enough to ensure “safe and stable” concentrations in the Earth’s atmosphere. The deal is this: first, the scheme sets a cap for greenhouse gas concentrations worldwide and a date by which targets should be achieved (e.g. 350 ppm by 2050.) Then, it ensures that the mechanism used to accomplish this target is fair by dividing the sum of greenhouse gas emissions between all the people of the world, and allocating to each nation, on the basis of its population, a respective quota (contraction). The model foresees that, over time, the carbon targets of developed and developing countries converge to a common per capita pollution level, with all countries accepting the same emission goal consistent with a safe target of 350 ppm globally (convergence.) The global “carbon cake” would be shared between the different nations of the world in the form of “tradable entitlements”, with individual countries negotiating their own quotas proportional to national populations. While converging towards equality of pollution, nations that want to produce more carbon dioxide than their share would be obliged to buy unused quota from other nations. The mechanism also permits trading so that developing countries unable to use up their entire entitlements can sell them to rich nations in exchange, for example, for projects of development, health and education.
Some free marketeers and neo-conservatives, while recognizing that climate change is not a hoax, find the “contraction & convergence strategy” too “biased” towards the developing world’s priorities. After all, they have never made a secret of their predisposition to have the interests of the elite in rich societies at heart. Their argument, however, blissfully ignores that rich countries account for only 15% of the world’s population, yet emit about 50% of carbon dioxide emissions worldwide. Others have also criticized “contraction & convergence” for being utopian and unrealistic. It is true that nobody knows whether this scheme will ever work. What we do know, however, is that rich countries must play a leadership role in the fight against climate change. As Speth explained: “The lion’s share of the blame must go to the wealthy, industrial countries and especially to the United States.” He then added, “if the United States and other major governments had wanted a strong, effective international process, they could have created one. If they wanted treaties with real teeth, they could have shepherded them into being.” It is true that a binding agreement, such as the one proposed by Meyer, would require a massive political and economic undertaking at the global level. But there are no other choices left if we are to prevent irreversible climate change. As the American libertarian socialist, Murray Bookchin, once put it: “If we do not do the impossible, we shall be faced with the unthinkable.”
Global climate change agreements such as “contraction & convergence” must be adopted with reforms to reduce poverty and inequalities. One does not need to be a Marxist to understand why. Calling for a more equitable distribution of resources is not a wish for a classless society where all wealth is equally shared or is concentrated in the hands of a big government. Instead, it is a pragmatic strategy to overcome the climate change impasse. Affluent nations must recognize that any global environmental treaty that is perceived as unfair, or that does not take into account the urgent needs of people in the developing world, is destined to fail. With the world facing an ecological crisis without borders, nothing has become more practical for the West than turning its past wrongs into rights by assisting developing nations in assembling their ecological programs, eradicate poverty and educate women. This would not just be an act of generosity, but also of enlightened self-interest. The reason is simple. As Dipesh Chakrabarty once observed, “unlike the crises of capitalism, there are no lifeboats for the rich and the privileged” that will save them from a future climate disaster. Progress of Collapse Roberto De Vogli
27 January 2013 - "What can be done? Promote C&C at world level." Kasama Project
Part 4 - What can be done?
In the absence of systemic change, there certainly are things that have been done and more can be done in the future to lessen capitalism’s negative effects on the environment and people. There is no particular reason why the United States can’t have a better social welfare system, including universal health care, as is the case in many other advanced capitalist countries. Governments can pass laws and implement regulations to curb the worst environmental problems. The same goes for the environment or for building affordable houses.
A carbon tax of the kind proposed by James Hansen, in which 100 percent of the dividends go back to the public, thereby encouraging conservation while placing the burden on those with the largest carbon footprints and the most wealth, could be instituted. New coal-fired plants (without sequestration) could be blocked and existing ones closed down.
At the world level, contraction and convergence in carbon emissions could be promoted, moving to uniform world per capita emissions, with cutbacks far deeper in the rich countries with large per capita carbon footprints.The problem is that very powerful forces are strongly opposed to these measures. Hence, such reforms remain at best limited, allowed a marginal existence only insofar as they do not interfere with the basic accumulation drive of the system.
25 January 2013 - Further development with the CARBON BUDGET ACCOUNTING TOOL [C-BAT] Domain One
A little more C-BAT model development [there is still much work to go animating th] . . .
DOMAIN ONCE Contraction and Concentrations
6 images showing the changing User-Interface for Carbon budgets
High [593 Gt C]
Medium [396 Gt C]
Low [197 Gt C]
With varying feedbacks rates as 40 steps 'up' from CAF 50% and 40 steps 'down': -
[a] Integrated [inheriting the opacity of merging the science & policy modelling, as in IPCC & UK Climate Act]
[b] Separated [moving to the segregation of science & policy in the modelling, to overcome the opacity in [a]].
NOTE - the 4 mini-domains on the left respond to the position taken in Domain One in the main screen.
This static concept-view of the C-BAT User-Interface Domain One shows there are three Budgets in all [High, Medium & Low], with two ways of measuring feedbacks [Integrated & Segregated]. The animated version of this gives users 'Budget Control' with the drag up/down left/right sliders on the 'x' and the 'y' axes fro data read-offs.
Concentrations, temperature, sea-level rise and ocean CO2 deposition/acidification are 'consequences' of this 'Budget Control' and all values [sourced] for these are shown on clocks that will move in synch with the slide use for 'Budget Control'.
Domains two, three and four are governed by user choices made in domain one and these Domains will exchange with the centre-stage of position [here of Domain one] when their icons on the left are touched. Then the Slider over the years becomes active e.g. selecting and measuring and weighing the convergence-rates/weights/dates for the contraction rate chosen from Domain one.
The overall animation in still in preparation. A taster is here [load and re-load this file].
23 January 2013 - Positive Feedbacks! We don't know their rate & we don't know the size of the carbon-budget.
Here are the Low [197 Gt C] Medium [395 Gt C] and High [593 Gt C] Carbon Budgets
On top of these a few rates and weight of carbon-feedbacks to the atmosphere are drawn [e.g. from melting permafrost].
Different strengths are shown but no-one knows the how strong these feedbacks will become or how quickly as we don't even know and we haven't even decided the size of the global carbon budget.
Here's a feel for C-BAT's user-interface with Budgets and Integrated Feedbacks selected.
This is done for the sake of non-prejudicial ‘mathematical balance’. However, evidence for the potential for such negative feedback in the ‘real world’ is not there, while evidence for the potential for such positive feedback increases with the budget-size and as the world warms - a very real world issue threatening to overwhelm human control of human emissions.
23 January 2013 - "C&C -This elegant solution." Greening the Academy; Eds. S Fassbender, A Nocella & R Khan
GREEN ECONOMICS AND LIFESTYLE CHANGES
On the other hand a “green economics agenda” argues for a life style change which provides less consumption, less resource use and alternatives to the consumption patterns and high mass consumption of Rostow of the Kennedy administration – the main economics policy paradigm of the last 60 years.(Jorion2011) It argues for lower growth – in developed countries - contraction and convergence for everyone. This view allows for degrowth shift to be included, as it reduces overall economic activity and lowers GDP and typically the GINI coefficient and other measures of well being go up in advanced economies, above a certain level of satisfaction of the basic physical requirements of living. The emphasis on growth as an end itself disappears. The alleviation of poverty, education of everyone especially girls, the participation in democracy, the halting of climate change and sea level rise and the halting of biodiversity loss are all important aims of such an economy. The equality within and between countries and between generations becomes much more interesting in such an economy. This method allocates more to less developed countries and less to more developed countries.
Green Economics intrinsically is supportive of the Contraction and Convergence, based on the principle proposed by Aubrey Meyer of the Global Commons Institute initially for reducing global carbon emissions by a consensus of contracting larger emitters and expanding emitters who are not using enough. This elegant solution is based on social and environmental justice and so is attractive to green economists. It has been adopted as a principle for carbon by the UNFCC. As economists, green economists also regard it as a key idea to implement a green economy. In practise less developed countries can still grow to meet in the middle range of basic living standards but those over consuming countries need to contract to meet in the middle to ensure that there is enough to go round. Greening the Academy -
Ecopedagogy Through the Liberal Arts Edited by Samuel Day Fassbinder
Anthony J. Nocella II
and Richard Kahn
23 January 2013 - "The modern Green Movement is pushing hard for C&C" Unbelievable list of green sherpas!
The Sovereign Independent UK is a non-profit organisation with all funding coming purely in the form of donations from the public. No member of The Sovereign Independent UK is paid for what they do. We are all volunteers simply trying our best to inform the public of the agenda being laid out before us all. Sovereign Independent UK
Modern industrial society, especially the United States, has always represented the 'Great Satan' to the modern green movement. They despise and fear capitalism and economic growth. Ever since its inception in the 1960s the green agenda has always been to find some way to destroy the free market system. The 'Climate Crisis is the weapon they have crafted to deliver a fatal death blow.
Under this system entire countries would have carbon rationing imposed on them. The United States (currently 25% of global emissions) would be allowed to emit no more than 5% of the world's annual carbon emissions. If, as required by th UN's IPCC, emissions must decrease by at least 50% from current levels then the USA would have to decrease its carbon emissions by 98% from 1990 levels!! Goodbye USA! Many well-know politicians such as Angela Merkel, Gordon Brown and Arnold Sharwzenegger have publicly praised the C&C system. If these systems for personal and national carbon rationing are implemented then the Global Green Agenda activists will have well and truly achieved their aim of Global Governance.
"Man-made climate change is the most serious environmental threat we face. Many leaders from government, business and environmental organisations now support the C&C model as a realistic framework within which the international community can take the necessary action to solve the critical problem of climate change." Angela Merkel, German Chancellor
"The common enemy of humanity is man.
In searching for a new enemy to unite us, we came up
with the idea that pollution, the threat of global warming,
water shortages, famine and the like would fit the bill. All these
dangers are caused by human intervention, and it is only through
changed attitudes and behavior that they can be overcome.
The real enemy then, is humanity itself." - Club of Rome,
premier environmental think-tank,
consultants to the United Nations
"We need to get some broad based support,
to capture the public's imagination...
So we have to offer up scary scenarios,
make simplified, dramatic statements
and make little mention of any doubts...
Each of us has to decide what the right balance
is between being effective and being honest." - Prof. Stephen Schneider,
Stanford Professor of Climatology,
lead author of many IPCC reports
"We've got to ride this global warming issue.
Even if the theory of global warming is wrong,
we will be doing the right thing in terms of
economic and environmental policy." - Timothy Wirth,
President of the UN Foundation
"No matter if the science of global warming is all phony...
climate change provides the greatest opportunity to
bring about justice and equality in the world." - Christine Stewart,
former Canadian Minister of the Environment
“The data doesn't matter. We're not basing our recommendations
on the data. We're basing them on the climate models.” - Prof. Chris Folland,
Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research
“The models are convenient fictions
that provide something very useful.” - Dr David Frame,
climate modeler, Oxford University
"I believe it is appropriate to have an 'over-representation' of the facts
on how dangerous it is, as a predicate for opening up the audience." - Al Gore,
Climate Change activist
"It doesn't matter what is true,
it only matters what people believe is true." - Paul Watson,
co-founder of Greenpeace
"The only way to get our society to truly change is to
frighten people with the possibility of a catastrophe." - emeritus professor Daniel Botkin
"The climate crisis is not a political issue, it is a moral and
spiritual challenge to all of humanity. It is also our greatest
opportunity to lift Global Consciousness to a higher level." - Al Gore,
Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech
"We are on the verge of a global transformation.
All we need is the right major crisis..." - David Rockefeller,
Club of Rome executive member
"Humanity is sitting on a time bomb. If the vast majority of the
world's scientists are right, we have just ten years to avert a
major catastrophe that could send our entire planet's climate system
into a tail-spin of epic destruction involving extreme weather, floods,
droughts, epidemics and killer heat waves beyond anything we have
ever experienced - a catastrophe of our own making." - Al Gore,
An Inconvenient Truth
"We are getting close to catastrophic tipping points,
despite the fact that most people barely notice the warming yet." - Dr James Hansen,
"By the end of this century climate change will reduce the human
population to a few breeding pairs surviving near the Arctic." - Sir James Lovelock,
Revenge of Gaia
"Climate Change will result in a catastrophic global sea level
rise of seven meters. That's bye-bye most of Bangladesh, Netherlands, Florida and would make London the new Atlantis."
- Greenpeace International
"This planet is on course for a catastrophe.
The existence of Life itself is at stake." - Dr Tim Flannery,
Principal Research Scientist
"Coal makes us sick. Oil makes us sick. It's global warming.
It's ruining our country. It's ruining our world." - Harry Reid,
U.S. Senate majority leader
"Climate Change is the greatest threat that
human civilization has ever faced." - Angela Merkel,
"Climate change is real. Not only is it real, it's here,
and its effects are giving rise to a frighteningly new
global phenomenon: the man-made natural disaster." - Barack Obama,
"We simply must do everything we can in our power to
slow down global warming before it is too late." - Arnold Schwarzenegger,
Governor of California
"Climate change should be seen as the
greatest challenge to ever face mankind." - Prince Charles
"Climate change makes us all global citizens,
we are truly all in this together." - Gordon Brown,
British Prime Minister
"We have reached the critical moment of decision on climate change.
Failure to act to now would be deeply and unforgivably irresponsible.
We urgently require a global environmental revolution." - Tony Blair,
former British PM
"We are close to a time when all of humankind
will envision a global agenda that encompasses
a kind of Global Marshall Plan to address the
causes of poverty and suffering and
environmental destruction all over the earth." - Al Gore,
Earth in the Balance
"In Nature organic growth proceeds according
to a Master Plan, a Blueprint. Such a ‘master plan’ is
missing from the process of growth and development of
the world system. Now is the time to draw up a master plan for
sustainable growth and world development based on global
allocation of all resources and a new global economic system.
Ten or twenty years form today it will probably be too late." - Club of Rome,
Mankind at the Turning Point
"We need a new paradigm of development in
which the environment will be a priority.
World civilization as we know it will soon end.
We have very little time and we must act.
If we can address the environmental problem,
it will have to be done within a new system, a
new paradigm. We have to change our mindset,
the way humankind views the world." - Mikhail Gorbachev,
founder of Green Cross International
"The concept of national sovereignty has been immutable,
indeed a sacred principle of international relations.
It is a principle which will yield only slowly and reluctantly to
the new imperatives of global environmental cooperation." - UN Commission on Global Governance report
"Democracy is not a panacea. It cannot organize everything and
it is unaware of its own limits. These facts must be faced squarely.
Sacrilegious though this may sound, democracy is no longer well
suited for the tasks ahead. The complexity and the technical nature
of many of today’s problems do not always allow elected
representatives to make competent decisions at the right time." - Club of Rome,
The First Global Revolution
"The emerging 'environmentalization' of our civilization
and the need for vigorous action in the interest of the entire global
community will inevitably have multiple political consequences.
Perhaps the most important of them will be a gradual change
in the status of the United Nations. Inevitably, it must
assume some aspects of a world government." - Mikhail Gorbachev,
State of the World Forum
"I envisage the prinicles of the Earth Charter to
be a new form of the ten commandments.
They lay the foundation for a sustainable
global earth community." - Mikhail Gorbachev,
co-author of The Earth Charter
"In my view, after fifty years of service in the United Nations system,
I perceive the utmost urgency and absolute necessity for proper
Earth government. There is no shadow of a doubt that the present
political and economic systems are no longer appropriate
and will lead to the end of life evolution on this planet.
We must therefore absolutely and urgently look for new ways." - Dr Robert Muller,
UN Assistant Secretary General,
"Nations are in effect ceding portions of their sovereignty
to the international community and beginning to create a
new system of international environmental governance
as a means of solving otherwise unmanageable crises." - Lester Brown,
"Regionalism must precede globalism.
We foresee a seamless system of governance from
local communities, individual states, regional unions
and up through to the United Nations itself." - UN Commission on Global Governance
"A keen and anxious awareness is evolving to suggest that
fundamental changes will have to take place in the world order
and its power structures, in the distribution of wealth and income.
Perhaps only a new and enlightened humanism
can permit mankind to negotiate this transition." - Club of Rome,
Mankind at the Turning Point
"The alternative to the existing world order can only
emerge as a result of a new human dimension of progress.
We envision a revolution of the mind, a new way of thinking."
- Mikhail Gorbachev,
State of the World Forum
"We require a central organizing principle - one agreed to voluntarily.
Minor shifts in policy, moderate improvement in laws and regulations,
rhetoric offered in lieu of genuine change - these are all forms of
appeasement, designed to satisfy the public’s desire to believe that
sacrifice, struggle and a wrenching transformation
of society will not be necessary." - Al Gore,
Earth in the Balance
"Adopting a central organizing principle...
means embarking on an all-out effort to use every
policy and program, every law and institution...
to halt the destruction of the environment." - Al Gore,
Earth in the Balance
"Effective execution of Agenda 21 will require a profound
reorientation of all human society, unlike anything the world
has ever experienced a major shift in the priorities of both
governments and individuals and an unprecedented
redeployment of human and financial resources. This shift
will demand that a concern for the environmental consequences
of every human action be integrated into individual and
collective decision-making at every level." - UN Agenda 21
"The current course of development is thus clearly unsustainable.
Current problems cannot be solved by piecemeal measures.
More of the same is not enough. Radical change from the
current trajectory is not an option, but an absolute necessity.
Fundamental economic, social and cultural changes that
address the root causes of poverty and environmental
degradation are required and they are required now." – from the Earth Charter website
"The goal now is a socialist, redistributionist society,
which is nature's proper steward and society's only hope."
- David Brower,
founder of Friends of the Earth
"If we don't overthrow capitalism, we don't have a chance of
saving the world ecologically. I think it is possible to have
an ecologically sound society under socialism.
I don't think it is possible under capitalism" - Judi Bari,
principal organiser of Earth First!
"Isn't the only hope for the planet that the
industrialized civilizations collapse?
Isn't it our responsiblity to bring that about?" - Maurice Strong,
founder of the UN Environment Programme
"A massive campaign must be launched to de-develop the
United States. De-development means bringing our
economic system into line with the realities of
ecology and the world resource situation." - Paul Ehrlich,
Professor of Population Studies
"The only hope for the world is to make sure there is not another
United States. We can't let other countries have the same
number of cars, the amount of industrialization, we have in the US.
We have to stop these Third World countries right where they are." - Michael Oppenheimer,
Environmental Defense Fund
"Global Sustainability requires the deliberate quest of poverty,
reduced resource consumption and set levels of mortality control."
- Professor Maurice King
"We must make this an insecure and inhospitable place
for capitalists and their projects. We must reclaim the roads and
plowed land, halt dam construction, tear down existing dams,
free shackled rivers and return to wilderness
millions of acres of presently settled land." - David Foreman,
co-founder of Earth First!
"Complex technology of any sort is an assault on
human dignity. It would be little short of disastrous for us to
discover a source of clean, cheap, abundant energy,
because of what we might do with it." - Amory Lovins, Rocky Mountain Institute
"The prospect of cheap fusion energy is the
worst thing that could happen to the planet." - Jeremy Rifkin,
Greenhouse Crisis Foundation
"Giving society cheap, abundant energy would be the
equivalent of giving an idiot child a machine gun." - Prof Paul Ehrlich, Stanford University
"Our insatiable drive to rummage deep beneath
the surface of the earth is a willful expansion
of our dysfunctional civilization into Nature." - Al Gore,
Earth in the Balance
"The big threat to the planet is people: there are too many,
doing too well economically and burning too much oil." – Sir James Lovelock,
"My three main goals would be to reduce human population to
about 100 million worldwide, destroy the industrial infrastructure
and see wilderness, with it’s full complement of species,
returning throughout the world." -Dave Foreman,
co-founder of Earth First!
"Current lifestyles and consumption patterns of the
affluent middle class - involving high meat intake,
use of fossil fuels, appliances, air-conditioning,
and suburban housing - are not sustainable." - Maurice Strong,
Rio Earth Summit
"Mankind is the most dangerous, destructive,
selfish and unethical animal on the earth." - Michael Fox,
vice-president of The Humane Society
"Human beings, as a species,
have no more value than slugs." - John Davis, editor of Earth First! Journal
"Humans on the Earth behave in some ways like a
pathogenic micro-organism, or like the cells of a tumor." - Sir James Lovelock,
"The Earth has cancer
and the cancer is Man." - Club of Rome,
Mankind at the Turning Point
"A cancer is an uncontrolled multiplication of cells;
the population explosion is an uncontrolled multiplication of people.
We must shift our efforts from the treatment of the symptoms to
the cutting out of the cancer. The operation will demand many
apparently brutal and heartless decisions.'' - Prof Paul Ehrlich,
The Population Bomb
"I don't claim to have any special interest in natural history,
but as a boy I was made aware of the annual fluctuations in
the number of game animals and the need to adjust
the cull to the size of the surplus population." - Prince Philip,
preface of Down to Earth
"A reasonable estimate for an industrialized world society
at the present North American material standard of living
would be 1 billion. At the more frugal European standard
of living, 2 to 3 billion would be possible." - United Nations,
Global Biodiversity Assessment
"A total population of 250-300 million people,
a 95% decline from present levels, would be ideal." - Ted Turner,
founder of CNN and major UN donor
"... the resultant ideal sustainable population is hence
more than 500 million but less than one billion." - Club of Rome,
Goals for Mankind
"One America burdens the earth much more than
twenty Bangladeshes. This is a terrible thing to say.
In order to stabilize world population,we must eliminate
350,000 people per day. It is a horrible thing to say,
but it's just as bad not to say it." - Jacques Cousteau,
"If I were reincarnated I would wish to be returned to earth
as a killer virus to lower human population levels." - Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh,
patron of the World Wildlife Fund
"I suspect that eradicating small pox was wrong.
It played an important part in balancing ecosystems."
- John Davis, editor of Earth First! Journal
"The extinction of the human species may not
only be inevitable but a good thing." - Christopher Manes, Earth First!
“The extinction of Homo Sapiens would mean survival
for millions, if not billions, of Earth-dwelling species.
Phasing out the human race will solve every
problem on Earth - social and environmental.” - Ingrid Newkirk,
former President of PETA
"Childbearing should be a punishable crime against
society, unless the parents hold a government license.
All potential parents should be required to use
contraceptive chemicals, the government issuing
antidotes to citizens chosen for childbearing." - David Brower,
first Executive Director of the Sierra Club
"The fate of mankind, as well as of religion, depends upon
the emergence of a new faith in the future.
Armed with such a faith, we might find
it possible to resanctify the earth." - Al Gore,
Earth in the Balance
"The greatest hope for the Earth lies in religionists and
scientists uniting to awaken the world to its near fatal predicament
and then leading mankind out of the bewildering maze of
international crises into the future Utopia of humanist hope." - Club of Rome,
Goals for Mankind
"What an incredible planet in the universe this will be
when we will be one human family living in justice,
peace, love and harmony with our divine Earth,
with each other and with the heavens." - Robert Muller,
UN Assistant Secretary General
"The earth is literally our mother, not only because we depend on
her for nurture and shelter but even more because the human
species has been shaped by her in the womb of evolution....
Our salvation depends upon our ability
to create a religion of nature." - Rene Dubos,
board member, Planetary Citizens
"Each element, plant, insect, fish and animal
represents a certain aspect of Gaia's - and our - being.
In a way, we are Gaia's intelligence and awareness
- currently lost in self-destructive madness.
We must acknowledge, respect and love her for being
the Mother she is to us or we deny our very selves.
Nurture the Mother as she nurtures us." - Prof. Michael J. Cohen,
"It is the responsibility of each human being today to
choose between the force of darkness and the force of light.
We must therefore transform our attitudes, and adopt a renewed
respect for the superior laws of Divine Nature." - Maurice Strong,
first Secretary General of UNEP
"The spirit of our planet is stirring!
The Consciousness of Goddess Earth
is now rising against all odds,
in spite of millennia of suppression,
repression and oppression inflicted on Her
by a hubristic and misguided humanity.
The Earth is a living entity, a biological organism
with psychic and spiritual dimensions.
With the expansion of the patriarchal religions
that focused on a male God majestically
stationed in Heaven ruling over the Earth and the
Universe, the memory of our planet's innate Divinity
was repressed and banished into the
collective unconscious of humanity." - Envision Earth
"Still more important is the implication that the evolution of
homo sapiens, with his technological inventiveness and his
increasingly subtle communications network, has vastly increased
Gaia's range of perception. She is now through us awake and aware
of herself. She has seen the reflection of her fair face through the
eyes of astronauts and the television cameras of orbiting spacecraft.
Our sensations of wonder and pleasure, our capacity
for conscious thought and speculation, our restless curiosity and
drive are hers to share. This new interrelationship of Gaia with man
is by no means fully established; we are not yet a truly collective
species, corralled and tamed as an integral part of the biosphere,
as we are as individual creatures. It may be that the destiny of
mankind is to become tamed, so that the fierce, destructive, and
greedy forces of tribalism and nationalism are fused into a
compulsive urge to belong to the commonwealth of all
creatures which constitutes Gaia." – Sir James Lovelock,
Gaia: A New Look At Life
"Little by little a planetary prayer book is
thus being composed by an increasingly united
humanity seeking its oneness. Once again,
but this time on a universal scale, humankind is
seeking no less than its reunion with 'divine,'
its transcendence into higher forms of life. Hindus
call our earth Brahma, or God, for they rightly
see no difference between our earth and the divine.
This ancient simple truth is slowly dawning again upon
humanity, as we are about to enter our cosmic age
and become what we were always meant to be:
the planet of god." - Robert Muller,
UN Assistant Secretary General
"What if Mary is another name for Gaia? Then her capacity for
virgin birth is no miracle . . . it is a role of Gaia since life began . . .
She is of this Universe and, conceivably, a part of God. On Earth,
she is the source of life everlasting and is alive now;
she gave birth to humankind and we are part of her." - Sir James Lovelock,
Ages of Gaia
"Nature is my god. To me, nature is sacred;
trees are my temples and forests are my cathedrals." - Mikhail Gorbachev,
Green Cross International
"The spiritual sense of our place in nature...
can be traced to the origins of human civilization....
The last vestige of organized goddess worship
was eliminated by Christianity." - Al Gore,
Earth in the Balance
"Christianity is our foe. If animal rights is to succeed,
we must destroy the Judeo-Christian Religious tradition." - Peter Singer, founder of Animal Rights
"I pledge allegiance to the Earth and all its sacred parts.
Its water, land and living things and all its human hearts." - Global Education Associates,
The Earth Pledge
"By fostering a deep sense of connection to others and to the earth
in all its dimensions, holistic education encourages a sense of
responsibility to self to others and to the planet." - Global Alliance for Transforming Education
"The earth is not dead matter. She is alive.
Now begin to speak to the earth as you walk.
You can speak out loud, or just talk to her in your mind.
Send your love into her with your exhalation. Feel your
heart touching upon the heart of the planet. Say to her
whatever words come to you: Mother Earth, I love you.
Mother Earth, I bless you. May you be healed. May all
your creatures be happy. Peace to you, Mother Earth.
On behalf of the human race, I ask forgiveness
for having injured you. Forgive us, Mother Earth" - US Student Textbook,
"Prayer to the Earth"
23 January 2013 - "C&C the truthful numerate basis to organise global limits & reconciliation." RIBA Journal
Prince Charles had the ideal opportunity to engage with the RIBA on the over-riding issue of climate change, but he fluffed it, says Aubrey Meyer. "C&C is not about words. Reflecting the natural order, it
is logical, structured and provides a truthful, numerate basis on which to organise the global limits and reconciliation that we so urgently need, if doing enough soon enough is not to be further thwarted by doing too little to late." C&C & the visit by Prince Charles to RIBA
23 January 2013 - "Great Graphics; C&C a good example of ideas leading to COPs." Stephen H Schneider
One particularly visible environmental NGO was the Global Commons Institute from the United Kingdom. Its charismatic leader, Aubrey Meyer, became a darling of developing countries by pushing for contraction and convergence. This called for the overall planetary emissions to contract to much lower levels by mid-century and for the low per capita emissions in poor countries to converge with the higher emissions in rich countries, as a measure of equity. This analysis was not popular with economists, since it was basically an idea presented via great graphics, but it was not based on an accepted economic model calculation making costs and benefits explicit. Regardless of its merits, it is a good example of the kinds of ideas that were kicked around in the informal sessions held before the governments got together in dosed-door sessions to hammer out protocol language for the Conference of the Parties (COP). Many of these events were well covered by the international media. Science as a Contact Sport
An Original Classic C&C Image from COP-4 Buenos Aires 1998.
Its an example of what Stephen Schneider referes to above.
[Raef Pomerance of the US State Department
called this, "the best f.....g graphic of climate change I ever saw."].
22 January 2013 - "Positive feedback rates; the great unknown with climate." A hint of modelling this in C-BAT .
A draft animation of basic C-BAT is here [load & re-load] and this mechanism will be user-controlled in detail at this interface to help develop a numerate sense of what what rates of C&C are really needed to ensure we all do enough soon enough to achieve UNFCCC-compliance. They are certainly faster than anything contemplated at COP-18 for example.
The issue of positive-feedbacks of 'non-human-emissions' to the climate-system, due to delay in human-emissions control, is now and increasingly the great unknown to be feared. As permafrost melts and oceans warm, the volume of these emissions and the rate at which they will be released, represents the issue that threatens to overwhelm all attempts at human emissions control. There continues to be a high degree of unawareness of this dimension.
While they are positioned to guide deliberations at the UNFCCC, due to delay, climate scientists in the IPCC simply don't know what rates these feedbacks may change to. And the fact is they can't, because [a] 'climate-politicians' at the UNFCCC facing 'market-conditions', simply don't know what rates, weights and dates of carbon-budgeting might be accepted/chosen to ensure UNFCCC-compliance. Even when they are they don't know what rates of carbon-budgeting would be sufficient as no-one knows who vigorously the feedbacks will 'combine' to re-inforce each other.
'Clean Energy' investors 'optimistically' want to drive UNFCCC-compliance through 'the market'. However, they face sceptic-feedback [resistance] which suggests that positive-feedback in the climate system either isn't an issue or isn't even there at all.
22 January 2013 - No awareness of C-BAT issues in tepid C&C critique in this 'Encyclopedia of Global Warming'
Among other concepts of neoclassical economics opposed by the GCI was the usage of ‘statistical life’-valuations, which present lower values for a life lost in a developing country compared to a developed country. Use of this concept to weigh the costs of mitigation against adaptation has been criticized by the GCI as the 'economics of genocide'. The GCI harshly criticized neoclassical economists who were judging the efficiency of addressing actions to avert climate change. Current global emissions disparity and efforts to address it were termed expansion and divergence (E&D).
'Contraction and Convergence' [C&C] was proposed as a response to E&D, and as a GHG abatement methodology based on the principle of equity for survival. C&C establishes that the atmosphere is a global commons resource that, under the egalitarian principle, would have its benefits (such as carbon absorption and climate protection) divided equally among the global population. As global carbon emissions contract to avoid temperature increases above 2 degrees C (as supported by the UNFCCC to prevent the worst impacts of climate change), per emissions will converge to the sustainable level. Nations with emissions below the sustainable level will be permitted to increase to the per-capita emissions quotas.
C&C also supports emissions trading, allowing individuals exceeding their per-capita carbon allocation to purchase emissions rights from individuals below their quotas, or for trading between nations based on national quotas. A market under the global cap would establish an emissions price, and market allocations could reduce marginal abatement costs, with the result of a transfer of resources from rich to poor countries. Most developing countries, particularly India and sub-Saharan Africa, could continue to have the right to increase their per-capita emissions level. However, some developing countries, including China as well as nations of Oceania, which suffers from high deforestation emissions, ma)' have per-capita emissions levels that surpass those judged as sustainable, thus necessitating their downward convergence alongside other high emitters.
Contraction and Convergence was introduced to several country delegations in 1995, notably India and the group of African nations, before being formally proposed b)' the GCI at the Second Conference of the Parties (COP) to the UNFCCC in 1996. The concept of equal per capita allocation of atmospheric carbon resources was supported in a 1995 draft of the UNFCCC. However, the parties to the UNFCCC have not yet explicitly agreed that an equal allocation of carbon will guide the international climate change framework, although protection of the climate should be on the basis of equity.
During negotiations for the Kyoto Protocol at COP 3 in December 1997, the Indian delegation, with support of China and the African delegation, endorsed C&C by insisting that any efforts to include emissions trading in the Kyoto framework must be accompanied by equitably distributed emissions entitlements. The United States rejected this position, while indicating that such proposals relating to C&C may be elements for a future agreement. As yet, C&C or egalitarian principles for distributing emissions allocation have not been endorsed by any UNFCCC agreements.
Joke Waller Hunter, UNFCCC executive Secretary explicitly stated during COP-9 in Milan in 2004 that GHG stabilization inevitably requires C&C. The GCI claims that C&C was the model for the United Kingdom's Climate Change Act of 1008.
Alternative Mitigation Burden Regimes
While C&C is one of the simplest mitigation burden allocation regimes, there are others. Distributing responsibility for reducing emissions is influenced by a range of variables, including historical, present, and anticipated emissions, per capita emissions levels, and ability to pay (affluence).
Many scholars have discussed the importance of an eventual international climate treaty to include equity principles. C&C uses the ‘egalitarian rule’ by requiring equal global per-capita emissions; others include the ‘polluter pays’ rule, the ‘sovereignty rule’ (requiring an equal percentage of emissions reductions from every party), and the ability-to-pay rule (requiring an equal percentage of each party’s gross domestic product to go toward mitigation.
Many alternative burden-sharing proposals are commonly referenced to distribute obligations to reduce emissions or distribute rights to continue emitting. These include a proposal by the Brazilian delegation to the UNFCCC in 1997, commonly referred to as the Brazilian Proposal, which assigns a nation's liability for cumulative emissions based on the impact that those emissions have had on rise in sea level or surface air temperature. Baer and others proposed the Greenhouse Gas Development Rights Framework, which allocates obligations to pay for climate mitigation and adaptation based on a measure of an individual's ability to pay and responsibility for prior emissions.
Others have proposed a multistage approach, whereby UNFCCC parties gradually accept emissions intensity or reduction targets. Ln spite the prevalence of these and other proposals in the academic sphere, C&C has garnered more mainstream media and UNFCCC attention.
While C&C may be agreeable in theory, practical applicability is challenged. Beyond the deadlock in negotiations, if a per-capita allocation to atmospheric resource were achieved, distribution of quotas would likely be: managed by national governments. Because of issues of intra-national disparity and undemocratic processes, ensuring equal per-capita access to a carbon allocation is difficult. C&C also chooses to forgive historical emissions liability, while requiring some developing nations, namely China, to reduce their per-capita emissions. The GCI recognizes that the conception is not perfect, but argues that it is a "well-tempered" agreement Structure. While developing countries have supported C&C in name, the details of such a long-term, burden-sharing framework have not been discussed in depth through the UNFCCC's processes.
19 January 2013 - A civil society position paper based on researching C&C; The Schumacher Institute
This is a Civil Society Position Paper for Beyond 2015 by the Schumacher Institute on behalf of a number of Bristol-based Civil Society Organisations who met to discuss on Equity Within Limits and the Sustainable Development Goals on November 30, 2012. Equity Within Limits is the goal of the EU FP7 Converge project, a consortium researching the practical and societal implications of the Contraction and Convergence criteria for structuring global CO2-emission regimes, and applying the methodology to other forms of environmental protection.
A number of overarching themes emerged from the day:
• The MDGs have achieved a great deal especially on absolute poverty, clean water, girls’ and primary
education; but an honest appraisal has to acknowledge its weaknesses on food security, maternal health,
malaria and TB, sustainable development, biodiversity loss, sanitation and the special needs of the most
vulnerable poor nations.
Concerns about the emergence of a multi-track post-2015 process, with some groups working on the
SDGs and some working more broadly on ‘MDGs Part 2’ (and a number of other proposals for Goals
with various degrees of support.) The SDGs are not yet ready to be implemented, but this offers an
opportunity to prepare them for the UN High Level Panel.
The post-2015 process is an opportunity for public education on the inter-relationship between
environment and development, as well as for broadening the field of development education generally.
• Growth is not necessarily the enemy of sustainable development; and has created the political and
economic space in many developing countries to shift the debate from focusing only on poverty to
ensuring that economic development is environmentally sustainable. The SDG process has established a
small, but important, principle that rich nations should shoulder a greater burden than poor nations in
ensuring that economic development is not derailed by environmental or resource constraints.
Development and sustainability do not need to be in opposition just because differ on some priorities
and approaches. We would reframe the debate as the sustainable limits to development; that is the
physical, natural and social boundaries that shape development. A shared concept that both environment
and development communities can engage with is resilience, and this can be a starting point for joint
We wish to affirm the importance of culture in achieving environmental and development goals.
Religion and other cultural structures offer powerful means to transmit information on the environment
and development, but are not utilised well enough.
Full Document here
Alastair Roderick, Research Fellow
18 January 2013 - "A sophisticated model, C&C foregrounds equity." Faith in the Public Square Dr Rowan Williams
Faith in the Public Square [Can you hear the harmonics? See below].
Rowan Williams "One of the features of addictive behaviour is, classically, denial; we should perhaps not be surprised to find the divided mind I spoke of a moment a go in so much of our economic forecasting. But we learn to face and overcome denial partly by new relationships or new security about relationships enabling us to confront unwelcome truths without the fear of being destroyed by them.
This is why myths matter, and why multiplying statistics doesn't of itself change things. That the world is the vehicle of 'intimate and dynamic relation' with the active and intelligent source of all life is some sort of spur to face our sins and absurdities in dealing with it. But we need to bear in mind also that we are talking not just about the respectful conservation of an environment for its own sake. Concrete material processes have, so to speak, caught up with the myth, and we should be able to see that offences against our environment are literally not sustainable.
The argument about ecology has advanced from concerns about 'conservation': what we now have to confront is that it is also our own 'conservation', our viability as a species, which is finally at stake. And what is more, in the shorter term, what is at stake is our continuance as a species capable of some vision of universal justice. Not the least horror of our present circumstances is the prospect of a world of spiralling inequality and a culture that has learned again to assume what Christianity has struggled to persuade humanity against since its beginning - that most human beings are essentially dispensable, born to die, in Saul Bellow's harsh phrase. I needn't elaborate on how this makes absolute nonsense of any claim to be committed to a gift-based view of the world and of our individual and social relations. There is in the long run no choice between this spiralling inequality (and the fortress societies it will create) and some realistic step to deal with our addictions.
The Global Commons Institute, based in London, has in recent years been advancing a very sophisticated model for pushing us back towards some serious engagement with this matter of equality, through its proposed programme of 'Contraction and Convergence'. This seeks to achieve fairly rapid and substantial reductions in greenhouse gas emissions - but to do so in a way that foregrounds questions of equity between rich and poor nations. At the moment, rates of emission are fantastically uneven across the globe. In the first 48 hours of 2004, an average American family would have been responsible for as much in the way of emissions as an average Tanzanian family over the entire year. So what is proposed is that each nation is treated as having the same limited 'entitlement to pollute' - an agreed level of carbon emission, compatible with goals for reducing and stabilizing overall atmospheric pollution.
Since, obviously, heavily industrialized, high-consumption nations will habitually be using a great deal more than their entitlement and poorer nations less, there should be a pro rata charge on the higher users. They would, as it were, be purchasing the pollution 'credits' of less prosperous countries. And this charge would be put at the service of sustainable development in poorer nations in accord with the Millennium Development Goals. This would be treated not as an aid issue, but as a matter of trading and entitlement. The hoped-for effect in the medium term would be convergence: that is, a situation in which every citizen of the globe would be steadily approaching the same level of responsibility for environmental pollution. Because such a programme would necessarily challenge over-average users to reduce (otherwise an intolerable tax burden would be imposed), we could look for a reduction in the addictive levels of dependence in wealthier countries and a stimulus to develop renewable energy sources. We should also achieve a dependable source of development income, neither loan nor aid, for the countries suffering most intensely from the existing inequities.
This kind of thinking appears utopian only if we refuse to contemplate the alternatives honestly. Climate change has rightly been described by Sir David King, Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government, as a 'weapon of mass destruction', words echoed by Hans Blix, the former UN weapons inspector. In the current atmosphereof intense anxiety about terrorism, 'rogue states' and long-term political instability, we absolutely cannot afford to neglect what is probably the most deep-rooted source of further and potentially uncontrollable instability in the foreseeable future."
Rowan Williams, the finest theologian in Britain, offers in these essays the most penetrating analysis of the moral, cultural and economic crisis of our times, and of the role of faith in the public arena. It should be read by politicians, economists and artists, and by anyone who cares for the future of our society and planet.
I ask if that's the criterion 'that the world should make sense'. "Make sense not in a great theoretical system, but that you can see the connections somehow and 'I tend to reach for musical analogies here' you can hear the harmonics. You may not have everything tied up in every detail, but there's enough of that harmonic available to think, 'OK, I can risk aligning myself with this.' Because you're never going to nail it to the floor and eat your heart out, Richard Dawkins!
18 January 2013 - "TUC welcomes Climate Act based on RCEP recommendation of C&C strategy." RMT
TUC Response to Climate Change Bill Consultation
The TUC and its 62 affiliated unions warmly welcome the central intention of the Climate Change Bill of establishing a credible emissions reduction pathway to 2050, by putting into statute medium and long-term targets for CO2 reductions. These targets, combined with the innovation of five-year carbon budgets, an independent expert committee, new powers and annual Parliamentary scrutiny, will help secure a firm long term framework for climate change and energy policy.
The TUC fully acknowledges that action is urgently needed at the highest levels, nationally and internationally, both to meet the UK’s domestic targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions, consistent with our Kyoto obligations, and to ensure security of our energy supplies.
2. Response to consultation questions
Is the Government right to set unilaterally a long-term legal target for reducing CO2 emissions through domestic and international action by 60% by 2050 and a further interim legal target for 2020 of 26-32%?
Yes. However, we are concerned that the 60% target for CO2 alone may now be too low in the light of the latest scientific evidence from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and other expert evidence. In October 2006, the TUC General Council endorsed the principle behind the Bill of time-limited targets to cut CO2 emissions, supporting “statutorily binding annual reductions, averaged over a three or five-year rolling period.
The Government’s 60% target stems from the 2003 Energy White Paper, which in turn is based on earlier recommendations from the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution, (RCEP). The Royal Commission urged the Government to, “adopt a strategy which puts: the UK on a path to reducing CO2 emissions by some 60% from current levels from 2050. This would be in line with a global agreement based on contraction and convergence which set an upper limit for the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere of some 550 parts per million by volume (550 ppmv), and a convergence date of 2050”.
This concentration level (550 ppmv), roughly double pre-industrial levels, was thought at the time of the RCEP report to be consistent with limiting global average temperature increases to below 2 degrees centigrade.
Of course, the primary objective of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which created the Kyoto Protocol, is to stabilise greenhouse gas concentrations to “prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system” while allowing “economic development to proceed in a sustainable manner.”
Since the industrial revolution began more than 150 years ago, the average global surface temperature has risen by more than 0.76 degrees centigrade . Most of this warming is the result of human activities. Both the Stern Review and the most recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) acknowledge the central importance of stabilising emissions to prevent an increase in average global temperatures above 2 degrees centigrade. To achieve temperature stabilisation, both reports consider the implications of stabilising emissions within a range of between 450 and 550 parts per million (ppm) of CO2 over pre-industrial levels. Even at 450 ppm, there is a more than 50% risk of exceeding the 2 degrees threshold. These are not good odds.
Greenhouse gas concentrations reached 379 ppm in 2005 . The IPCC now estimates that an overall greenhouse gas concentration of between 445ppm and 490 ppm would equate to a likely increase in global mean average temperatures of 2.0 to 2.4 degrees centigrade above pre-industrial levels .
More recent evidence from the Tyndall Centre points to an accelerating rate of climate change. “Most recent research at the Hadley centre and elsewhere has suggested that a ‘safe’ CO2 concentration may be 450 ppmv or lower”. The difference is mainly due to a better understanding of the feedback impacts of global warming on the biosphere, for example, warming oceans releasing trapped CO2. “The corresponding CO2 emissions reductions for a 450 ppm concentration is some 80% to 90% lower than 1990 levels,” Tyndall concludes.
The decarbonisation challenge for the UK and other industrialised countries is greater than is assumed in the 2003 White Paper, and in the current Climate Change Bill consultation. The TUC believes there is a compelling case for a higher CO2 reduction target. We recognise that the Government has included powers in the draft Bill to amend this target in the light of further evidence.
However, the TUC believes that it is essential to adopt the precautionary principle and set a higher, scientifically sustainable target now. This will establish a clear framework to enable business to plan ahead in partnership with unions, and to facilitate a smoother transition towards a low carbon economy. The low carbon shift will have significant implications for investment, new technology, work organisation and jobs. Getting the targets right now will help secure wider public acceptance of the challenge we face, rather than embark on a course which may require drastic corrective action at a later date. We really do only have one chance to get these policies right.
18 January 2013 - "C&C; Sensible, Fair, Just, Honourable, Common Sense." Bob Brown Leader Australian Greens
The world's wealthiest countries are the most culpable. The richest 20 per cent of the world's population burn 80 per cent of its fossil fuels, producing 80 per cent of the problem gas. The remaining 80 per cent of people produce just 20 per cent - we in the wealthy West generate sixteen times as much greenhouse gas per person as those in developing countries. In the developed countries, Australians, followed by the Americans, are the worst polluters of all. Every one of us should put that statistic in our pipe and smoke it.
Here is a picture more of greed and studied ignorance than gloom and doom. The latter can be fixed if the former are given up. This is a moral challenge calling for a political response. And there is a good solution. Aubrey Meyer, the founder of London's Global Commons Institute, calls it 'contraction and convergence'. I would also call it 'one planet, one person, one value'. It is a just and honourable way out of the global warming terror, and one which is every bit as much common-sense as it is a hard ask.
Stage one of the plan is to win international agreement on a level of atmospheric carbon dioxide that would ensure the Earth's ecological, social and economic future. Let's say that this is 325 parts per million, roughly halfway between the past natural level of 280 ppm and the current, human-induced level of 375 ppm.
There would follow agreements on a starting date for lowering gas emissions - say the year 2010, which would allow high-energy-consuming countries time to adjust their economies - and on a target year by which atmospheric emissions are sufficiently reduced to make that level of 325 ppm achievable. The year 2030 is realistic.
Stage two of the plan is to bestow equal status on everyone on Earth by allocating each country a level of fossil-fuel consumption based on its population. Every country would be permitted the same emission of carbon dioxide per person, to lake effect in the agreed starting year (2010). Those richer communities (energy-guzzlers like Australia. Japan, Canada, the United States and Europe), unable to stick to their allocations would buy permits from the poorer countries, so keeping a lid on the total amount of 10ss11 fuels burnt. The trading system would help close the gap between rich and poor.
Sensible and fair as this idea may be, corporate and rich-country political pressure is drowning it like a bag of unwanted kittens. The Greens' job is to rescue it. This obligation is all the more imperative when you look at what else might drown, and when you take account of the fact that Ihe further away from the equator you get, the faster the warming will be. But to date, even the first-step Kyoto Protocol on climate change has been spumed by the Australian, American and Russian governments. The Kyoto Protocol aims to reduce greenhouse-gas production to 5 per cent below 1990 levels, but it is only a start. The global-warming situation is so drastic that it calls for reductions of 60-80 per cent below those levels.
18 January 2013 - "Promote & persuade for the adoption of C&C." Klaus Bosselmann Laura Westra Richard Vestra
Ten key recommendations
1 Prioritze Poverty Reduction:
Keep meeting the Millennium Development as the WBG's top priority to reduce poverty and assist the poor to become more resilient in the face of climate impacts; ramp-up direct funding for poverty reduction, job creation, nutrition, education and health; move away from indirect and inefficient trickle-down economics.
2 Renewable energy: Switch from current massive financing of fossil fuels rapidly towards renewable energy (solar, wind, wave, tidal, micro-hydro) with conservation and energy efficiency and especially decentralized systems for the poor. Eliminate all subsidies for fossil fuels and nuclear energy. Assist developing countries to plan for and implement a prompt and orderly transition to renewable GHG reduction.
3 Get the price right: Promote all nations' adoption of clear price signals, such as a global carbon tax to be used as each nation sees fit.
4 Contraction and convergence:Espouse and promote contraction and convergence to reduce GHG emissions while persuading all borrowing nations to adopt that principle. Support a physical limit (hard cap) that declines to zero before the threshold 2°C rise in temperature occurs.
5 Comply with livestock rules: Instruct the IFC to follow all WBG policies and strategies, especially the Livestock Strategy (no more financing for industrial livestock production) and the Nutrition Strategy, which does not recommend consumption.
6 Forest conservation: Switch from current financing of industrial logging and forest destruction to support strengthening of tenure rights of forest-based communities, community-based forest management, and more conservation, reforestation and afforestation.
7 Adaptation to climate change: Assist developing countries to adapt to climate change, starting vulnerability assessments of small island nation states such as the Maldives and deltaic countries such as Bangladesh.
8 International agreements: Vigorously support the process for the comprehensive post-Kyoto international agreement under the auspices of the UNFCCC; announce support at Bali in December 2007; present a draft to the Conference of Parties in 2008.
9 Stringent standards: Adopt and revise stringent end-use standards commensurate with evolving science for vehicles, lighting, building codes, electric motors and appliances.
10GHG Sources and Sinks: Promote accounting and monitoring of GHG emissions and implement agreements on deforestation and livestock. Monitor changes in carbon-sink capacities, including oceanic (marine acidification) terrestrial.
18 January 2013 - "C&C proposed by GCI, endorsed by many." Global Capitalism and Climate Change; Hans Baer
Contraction and convergence and asserts that every human on Earth has equal rights to global atmosphere and a right to pollute on a per capita basis. This approach has been favored by India, China, and the Group of 77, which actually consists of about 133 nations. It has also been endorsed by France, Switzerland, and the European Union, despite the fact that developed countries will have to drastically reduce their emissions because most of them have already exceeded the requisite stabilization targets. The contraction-and-convergence approach was first proposed by the Global Commons Institute [Jarman 2007].
18 January 2013 - "C&C - A well-known proposal." Climate Change & the Law; Hollo, Kulovesi, Mehling.
Climate Change and the Law
By Erkki J. Hollo, Kati Kulovesi, Michael Mehling
A well-known proposal is so-called “Contraction and Convergence (C&C), proposed originally by the Global Commons Institute. The idea is first that future total of greenhouse gas emissions from human sources is decreased over time to near zero-emissions within a specified time-frame (contraction). To achieve this, global per capita average of emissions arising under the contraction rate is chosen (convergence), which thus varies in accordance with states per capita emissions.
See GCI. "Contraction and Convergence: Climate Justice without Vengeance". Available at: http://www.gci.org.uk/contconvfcc.htm [(last accessed on 25 February 2012).
18 January 2013 - 5 years on modelling this rationale for "Climate Control" is more pertinent than ever.
In 1990 my daughter turned four. She came home from nursery school one day and asked, "Daddy, is the planet really dying?" Having become aware of climate change, I gave up a career in music and started a campaign to save the world from global warming.
My daughter had seen pictures on her classroom walls of dead and dying plants and animals. She'd also seen me crawling around the flat playing with her but also trying to figure out what to do about climate change. I was numb from the question. Smiling through gritted teeth I said something like, "I don't think so, darling. I hope not. But don't you worry, your Daddy will sort it out."
In November that year, as a member of the UK Green Party, I attended the UN in Geneva, where negotiations about climate change were being started. While the then Conservative Party leader Margaret Thatcher used the occasion to launch the first Gulf War, King Hussein of Jordan focused on the emissions that would result if all the oil-well heads in Kuwait and Iraq were blown-up. Arguing against the war, he spoke movingly about the distress in the Middle East, asking where was the "ecology of the human heart".
In 1991 the pollution from the burning oil wells was being deposited all over the planet and I became involved in the effort to establish what is now known as Contraction and Convergence (C&C). C&C was a rational response to the objective and principles laid out in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which was agreed a year later at the Earth Summit in Rio and ratified into force in 1995.
The global objective of UNFCCC was to stabilise the dangerously rising concentration of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. These concentrations rise as an accumulation of the gas emissions that come mostly from fossil fuel use, but also from changes to land use. Greenhouse gases trap heat, and the more these accumulate the more sun heat is trapped on the planet. The UNFCCC recognises that temperature rise has the potential to trigger runaway climate change and end life on the planet as we know it.
The important principles are precaution and equity. Precaution says that uncertainty when measuring rates of change must not be used as a reason for delaying the control of emissions, which must cease as rapidly as possible. Equity says that this response must be rational, adequate and fair, lest it become a futile lottery.
By 1990, the world of UN climate change negotiations was uncannily familiar to me, having grown up in South Africa and witnessed apartheid. The new "sustainable development" covertly mimicked the old "separate development". In this global apartheid, the poor majority of the world was once again the discard.
While the poor – particularly in Africa – were getting a lousy climate-deal, some economists claimed that markets would take care of the problem by "scientifically proving" it was cheaper to adapt to climate change than prevent it – and that the rich could respond by simply by shopping around for good deals. These included getting the right price for the natty new emissions-free energy technologies (like cars and windmills) and, as the debate progressed, shopping around for the number of trees that equalled their carbon footprints as they travelled on trans-Atlantic consumer sprees.
This was rank madness. Climate change was already causing massive social costs and destruction around the world. And as concentrations were cumulative, things were obviously going to get much worse. If there's a tap filling a bath, to stop the bath over-flowing, the tap must be turned right off. To my eternal disgrace I called this trivial economics "the economics of genocide".
Since the second world war – and in a pattern of overall income growth at 3% a year – one third of the world's population has been cumulatively responsible for 80% of the gas emissions driving climate change. Yet in the same period the other two-thirds were responsible for 20% of emissions. To cap that, the climate-change-damages driven by the pollution of the rich on the heads of the poor were estimated to be growing at a rate of 6% a year – in other words, at twice the rate of economic growth.
So the debate was how to prevent climate change running away and making life on the planet impossible. The answer was "contraction and convergence" (C&C). But only if we acted fast enough to solve the problem faster than we were creating it.
But at present we are practising what one might think of as mutually-assisted suicide or "MAS". MAS is beyond MAD, which is mutually-assured destruction. Under MAD, fingers were poised over the nuclear buttons with each side saying: "If you push, I'll push first".
In the MAS of expansion and divergence, both rich and poor countries are driving with their feet flat on the accelerator playing chicken and effectively saying: "I won't lift my foot off the accelerator unless you lift yours". Consequently exhaust emissions go everywhere and climate change is described as an act of war by the rich against the poor, and vice versa.
During the period in which my daughter has grown up and become 21, C&C has attracted enormous support. Yes there are detractors, but to them I say this: If between the economy of the human head and the ecology of the human heart you have anything better, please let us all know what it is.
16 January 2013 - "We skipped convergence & went straight to = per capita." J Strand Snr Economist World Bank
"Schemes of 'contraction and convergence‘ envisage a phased shift from the BAU-based allocation to that based on equal per capita emission rights. Here, for sharpness of comparison, there is no transition."
On the question you asked about this, in our calculations we went directly to the pre-allocation phase with equal per-capita entitlements, and thus "skipped" the transition phase. Any transition phase would obviously give less of a financial effect in this phase (thus in particular less transfers to India and SSA during the transfer process).
Development Research Group,
Environment and Energy Team the
Washington DC 20433, USA
Yes of course, that indeed follows and very glad you are projecting that very point. In the wake of the failure of COP-15, this is exactly the point we sought to address with this proposal to the UNFCCC - as you can see here All parties still have this problem to resolve by 2015, though these days I've given up holding my breath.
15 January 2013 - Why are we the good guys? Veteran scholar-activist & co-founder of Medialens, D Cromwell
This book continues to bring corporate and vested interests to the court of public opinion. The publisher of this work - Zero Books - describes it as, "a provocative challenge to the standard ideology that Western power is a benevolent force in the world" and David Cromwell's prosecution of the case against entrenched interests is certainly forensic, eclectic and relentless. The truths in this book are the kind that - as they say - help free you to, "reclaim your mind from the delusions of propaganda."
David is a founder member of Medialens [set up in 2001] a now a veteran scholar-activist and widely respected author.
'Karl Hood of Grenada, chair of the Alliance of Small Island States, an intergovernmental organisation of low-lying coastal and small island countries, responded to the Durban deal with damning words: "Must we accept our annihilation?"
Aubrey Meyer, a valiant climate activist and originator of the 'contraction and convergence' policy that would, if adopted by the UN, equitably reduce greenhouse gases to safe levels, was also scathing: “The islands are being annihilated and we all are now become their assassins. We have informally known this but with this "Durban-Deal" [COP-17 2011] we all have now formally crossed that threshold.” '
15 January 2013 - "The value of life." Bernie Lewin reviews the row preparing IPCC WG3 2nd Assessment 
Enter the Economists:
The Price of Life and how the IPCC only just survived the other chapter controversy
What price Climate Change? Before Stern and Garnaut there was Pearce. Chapter 6 of the IPCC Working Group III 2nd Assessment by David Pearceet al is now forgotten, yet it caused the first public controversy in the history of the IPCC. This chaotic assessment of scant and confused costings of expected damages was under attack before it was even drafted. The ensuing scandal over the price of life among the world’s poor dragged the IPCC into an embarrassing political controversy that broke at the very first Conference of Parties to the climate treaty. It was a taste of things to come, with authors simultaneously publishing what they assessed, leaking drafts, and pressure at the intergovernmental Plenary to change the chapter in conformity to a re-write of the Policymaker’s Summary. But there were important differences also. While later in Madrid Ben Santer was entirely complicit in the push to change his Working Group I Chapter 8, David Pearce and his crew held their ground against the onslaught in workshops, plenaries and finally through the press. Indeed, the authors won the battle for scientific independence, but at what price?
At first I thought I was fighting to save rubber trees,
then I thought I was fighting to save the Amazon rainforest. Now I realise I am fighting for humanity. —Chico Mendes—
Chico Mendes. That man is a good place to start. Or at least, his death. Gunned down in his home out in the wild west, almost as far west as you can go into Brazilian Amazonia.
Barefoot and illiterate, growing up into colonial serfdom, it was all Chico knew since before he was ten years old to be out in the rainforest tapping the rubber trees. But when news of Chico’s death reached a certain violinist in London, it would turn his life around and launched him on a collision course with IPCC Working Group III. The onslaught against the Working Group began in 1993 and continued through the next two years as the co-chairman, Jim Bruce, tried and tried again to get the Second Assessment Report over the line. He nearly didn’t make it.
Protests against the method of costing the damages of climate change in this Report’s Chapter 6—where the death of the world’s poor is valued much less than the death of the rich—turned a large grouping of poor nation delegates against the Report, against the authors, and against the rich nations from whence they came. A wedge driven deep in the fault line already opening between rich and poor nations at the climate treaty talks, the Price of Life Controversy was orchestrated by one man, our violinist, Aubrey Meyer.
Aubrey Meyer illuminates climate change mitigation with music
This unlikely course of events began back in 1988 when Meyer was seeking a theme for a new musical. He could hardly have missed the reports of Chico’s bloody demise as they came through on the eve of Christmas. At the end of a year when global environmentalism broke into the mainstream as never before, the news was everywhere; for this humble rubber tapper, born a nobody, died famous, world famous.
What began with a determination to preserve the livelihood of the local tappers, by 1985 had converged with the global campaign to preserve the entire Amazon. Advocating the sustainable development of the forest that sustained them, the united rubber tappers of Brazil formed under Chico’s leadership to become the cause célèbre of the global environmental campaign to preserve not only the Amazon but threatened rainforests everywhere. The rise and demise of Chico Mendes captured the imagination of the entire movement – a martyr to environmentalism immortalised in prose, film and song.
Indeed, this Amazonian tragedy held Aubrey Meyer captive that Christmas, but there never was a Chico Mendes musical. Instead, the tapper’s story sparked the musician’s epiphany, launching his life in an entirely new direction. Anyone who has ever heard Meyer speak will tell you that the passion for music never left him. But soon Meyer began to discover new talents, acknowledged by friend and foe, as he threw himself into the services of Chico’s cause—a cause that is as much about defending the global environment as it is about defending the rights of the poor.
David Pearce, the co-coordinating lead author of Chapter 6, died in 2005 aged 63.
When Meyer’s own brand of activism arrived at the climate talks, it was seen to be threatening what others saw as the greater purpose—a general agreement for action on climate change. His aggravation of this rich-poor split seemed to delight parts of the business lobby as much as it frustrated the environmental establishment. Most of all, Meyer’s intervention exasperated the expert economists drafting Chapter 6. As we shall see, the dispute was never really resolved. When the controversy was over and the Report publish, David Pearce, the coordinating lead author, remained insulted and perplexed that their expert assessment could be called into question by the government delegations due to the confused and spurious reasoning of this enthusiastic outsider with his ‘silly campaign of misinformation and abuse.’ In fact, to his dying day, Pearce remained convinced not only that Meyer served the interests of the coal lobby, but that they were funding the whole absurd charade.
Aubrey Meyer and the Global Commons Institute
Meyer began his activist career campaigning for all those like Chico whose only wont is to continue living sustainably under the rainforest canopy. The movement aimed to protect the home of ‘the forest peoples’ against the loggers, rancher and broad-acre farmers keen to tear it all down. It was through campaigning around a petition called ‘Save the Forests, Save the Planet’ that Aubrey Meyer’s name became familiar to the letters page of The Guardian. Then in 1990, influenced by the 1st IPCC Assessment and the 2nd Global Climate Conference, Meyer broke away from the UK Green party that he had joined two years earlier, and away from his work for the preservation of primitive ways of life. Now convinced of the overwhelming urgency to tackle the climate problem, he set up a new group still advocating for the world’s poor, but now for their economic advancement and in the emerging arena of the global emissions treaty negotiations.
With greenhouse gas emission rates generally reflecting levels of energy production, Meyer was not the first to point out that emission rates are a fairly direct indicator of levels of economic development. Upon this uncontroversial fact Meyer’s campaigning would now be grounded: any insistence on poor nations to cut emissions is tantamount to refusing them the opportunity to climb out of their impoverishment. (Indeed, his activism in this field continues to this day in his advocacy of ‘Contraction and Convergence.’)
A new petition pointed out that it is the already-developed countries ‘who created and who continue to exacerbate this global crisis,’ while ‘the majority of the people are struggling to meet basic human needs.’ While the majority are too impoverished to generate more than the minimum of emissions, it is the ‘luxury-based activities‘ of the richer nations mostly causing the problem. Petitioning for rich countries to take responsibility and to take immediate corrective action, Meyer’s group succeeded in collecting nearly 50 signatures from UK parliamentarians. And they might well have achieved similar support across continental Europe as they pointed the finger squarely at the USA, the greatest offender, for its refusal to commit to any emissions target.
Thus, we find Meyer, active early in the stand-off with the USA—a full two years before the Rio Earth Summit introduced the climate treaty framework. And we should remember that the US resistance would only be accentuated by the ascendance of the Clinton-Gore Administration in 1993. While the environment movement and a strengthening science lobby were working for climate action in concert with a sympathetic administration, the US Congress dug its heels in, refusing to even consider any emissions agreement that did not include an immediate commitment from the poorer nations. Lobbying on the other side was this tiny group of activists pamphleteering out of Meyer’s cramped London digs when they were presented with a whole new opportunity for engagement.
A Rich Man’s Bias
In November 1992, at its first general meeting after the Rio Earth Summit, following a presentation by the IPCC Chairman, Bert Bolin, the IPCC had decided to reform its Working Group III for its 2nd Assessment so as to give its entire focus to the neglected ‘economic and social dimensions‘ of the problem. This is how the IPCC contrived the belated entry of the economists. Not that their new ‘green economics’ was exactly ready for assessment. A new method of accounting had only recently been formulated to incorporate environmental value into the equation of wealthy economies. At the end of 1992 this was less than half baked, with only a few incomplete recipes rushed to the table. Yet, within the policy space suddenly opened up by the new treaty framework, there was now a burning hunger for global cost/benefit evaluations to support global action. The selected expert authors could do nothing for it but rush though the simultaneous publication and assessment of their first feeble attempts to globalise their earliest erratic estimations.
The minutes of the 8th IPCC meeting (pdf) gives some insight into the establishment of the new Working Group III, including through an appended paper that was presented by Bert Bolin. This extract shows how the decision for the ‘work plan’ was left wide open for development through broad-based workshops—which is how an advocacy organisations such as the Global Commons Institute could be so influential so early.
Meyer was already familiar with this ‘sustainable development’ economics and the first push toward a globalised analysis. In fact, he named his new group, the Global Commons Institute (GCI) from a chapter heading in David Pearce’s second book on ‘greening the world economy’ (Blueprint 2). Along with other NGOs, the GCI attended the inaugural Plenary of the newly constituted Working Group III in May 1993. There they forged alliances with poor nation delegations who advocated for their continuing participation. In response Bert Bolin, invited the GCI to present a paper at one of the Group’s workshops on ‘equity’ that following November.
For Working Group III authors, a pushy NGO proved hard to avoid. The climatologists of Working Group I might well complain, but our economists never had it so easy. Whereas for Working Group I the NGOs were permitted little more than feedback on their drafts, for Working Group III interest groups were encouraged to participate at scoping sessions and exploratory workshops. This opportunity was not wasted on the GCI. Meyer even boasts of a successful campaign to block the selection of perhaps the most obvious candidate to lead the damages assessment, William Nordhaus. He had published the first, rather circumspect, global damages estimation in 1991. And even before any draft was circulated for review, the GCI was already petitioning against the methodology of its authors. This early involvement explains how the dispute first broke into a public controversy so early. In fact, the Price of Life Controversy broke only weeks after the first draft report was sent out, which was well before the Plenary convened for the line-by-line approval of the Policymaker’s Summary. And it broke at a much grander forum.
The first Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC) had long been set for April 1995 in Berlin. We have now just passed ‘CoP18’ (Doha) with hopes of an outcome subsiding, but the momentum leading into the first CoP was so overwhelming that disruption by sceptical opponents and vested interests was proving difficult. Indeed, nothing so threatened agreement than a letter sent by the Indian delegation to its fellow poor nation delegates about a rich nation bias in the approach taken by the IPCC. In the letter the Indian Environment Minister, Kamal Nath, explains how this bias is exemplified by the very methodology of the studies underlying our Chapter 6. This chapter’s analysis is not only ‘absurd and discriminatory’ but it demonstrates ‘the bias which underpins [the IPCCC] assessment intended to provide the basis for policy discussions at the CoP.’ They called on other delegations to support them in their efforts in Berlin to have the ‘misdirection’ of this ‘faulty economics’ to be ‘purged from the process.’ (source: pdf)
The ruckus in Berlin that April led to an entire bloc of delegations at the Working Group Plenary in July refusing to accept neither the Policymaker’s Summary nor the underlying Report unless Chapter 6 were changed. The Chapter authors held fast in rejecting such intervention as against the IPCC rules. They would not change the Chapter and nor would they accept a Summary that contradicted it. They did agree in a side group to a re-drafting of the disputed passage of the Summary. But, when this was submitted to the Plenary 10 minutes before it was meant to close, the protests began and the meeting collapsed with the matter entirely unresolved. Even after reconvening in October, when approval was nominally achieved, the authors never accepted the Summary and the debate continued in the press, with calls on both sides for the Chapter to be completely excised from the published report. How had it come to this?
The Economic Value of Life
The task set for Chapter 6 was to assess the research on ‘The Social Cost of Climate Change.’ This is about estimating the damages that climate change is likely to cause—to give it a monetary value. The purpose of such a costing would be to weigh up the benefits of committing funding to strategies of adaption or mitigation. A full Cost-Benefit Analysis (CBA) of climate change requires giving an economic value to that which we indeed value, but which is fully, or partially, outside the market—and this is where sustainable development economics comes in. Previously, natural resources, for example a rainforest, would be attributed little or no economic value. That is to say, a forest’s full value, as it stands for now and the future, would not find expression on the accountant’s ledger. The idea is that if the full value were somehow expressed in the economic system then this would aid the preservation of those forests that the society considers worth preserving.
Not only forests but other non-market values can be given a ‘market-value-equivalent’ in various way, usually by establishing a ‘willingness-to-pay.’ By somehow determining what people might be prepared to pay for a non-market value, market equivalence can be achieved. And likewise for damages—or the loss of value—damages can be determined by finding out how much people are prepared to pay to avoid the loss. This brings us final to risk, where we can determine how much folks are prepared to pay for assurances against the risk of a loss.
One social cost of climate change outside the market is human health and wellbeing. This is something for which we are willing to pay a great deal. And dominant in the economic assessment of health is what we are prepared to pay to avoid death. This should not be thought of as how much an individual would pay to avoid certain death, rather it would be how much an individual or society would pay to avoid an increased chance of death. Once such an economic ‘Value of a Statistical Life’ (VOSL or VSL) has been determined, it can be used to calculate the value of risk reduction. Such calculations are often implicit behind individual choices over spending on safety measures and insurance, and they are often explicit in the determination of safety standards for vehicles, buildings, infrastructure and so forth.
Now, if we return to the problem of climate change damages, it has been assess that the doubling of the atmospheric CO2 concentration will lead to a few degrees of warming, and that the direct effect of the extra heat on human health will net more than 100,000 extra deaths per year. The task of assessing this ‘damage’ is to calculate a total economic value for these lost lives. Aggregations of this valuation with other damage estimates can then serve for comparison with the cost of various ways to reduce, or eliminate, these losses through mitigation or adaption. And it turns out that in these early attempts at climate change damages assessments, the valuation of lives is generally so great and so variable that it alone could determine whether the overall level of damages comes in above or below the cost of the various expensive proposals for mitigation. Thus, if we subscribe to this methodology, then the determination of the economic value of a human life becomes critical not only to the determination of how dangerous is climate change, but also the determination of what to do about it.
For many years prior, the economic valuations of life had been used in the Cost-Benefit Analysis of health programs such as inoculations and screenings. Since the 1980s it has been used to justify taxation on tobacco and it also started to appear in the sustainability problematic of wealthy nations—where the costing of morbidity and mortality is accounted into the benefits of pollution controls. In these sorts of cases the economic value of life is usually deemed constant across the economic system in which it applies. However, with the new global problem of climate change, to be addressed by a global treaty, a new global CBA requires a variability in the valuation of life more or less in accordance with the relative wealth of the local economy. The variability is due more to differences in ability to pay than to any differences in willingness. And it is with this requirement that the Price of Life Controversy began—with the tables of the differential value of a human life given in US dollars and effectively determined according to the relative wealth of nations.
The problem for the Chapter 6 authors was that no such tables existed—well at least they had yet to appear in the peer review literature. Indeed, climate change damage costings were generally only found in studies of rich nations, notably the USA. However, the doctoral dissertations of two of the Chapter’s junior authors (Tol & Fankhauser) were global, and did tabulate differential values of life. It was these tables, and only these, that were used in the Assessment. With the supervisors of these dissertations leading the writing of the Chapter (Pearce & Vellinga), the occasional attempts by Pearce (and Bruce) to distance the assessors from the research being assessed—and so from responsibility for these controversial calculations—proved difficult to sustain. And so when it was revealed that wealthy westerners were found to be 10 or 15 times more valuable than the impoverished masses, it is not surprisingly that the (leaked) draft Report soon attracted some embarrassing headlines, like this one:
This feature article appeared on the eve of the July 1995 Plenary in Geneva that was supposed to (but failed to) accept the Working Group’s Report. New Scientist had picked up the story much earlier, with Fred Pearce’s first report from Berlin (1Apr95) opening with this rhetorical embellishment:
Is the death of an overweight American from heatstroke a greater loss to the world than a Bangladeshi farmer struck down by a tropical cyclone?
He continues prophetic:
Economists advising the world’s governments on how to cope with global warming say yes. And their answer poses a new threat to the climate negotiations beginning in Berlin this week.
A week later New Scientist reports on a speech in Berlin to a municipal leaders meeting by ‘a prominent green economist,’ Paul Ekins of Birkbeck College London, where he describes the damage assessment as the ‘economics of the madhouse.’ Of course, at this stage the report was not finalised—circulating in a draft clearly marked ‘not for quotation’—but it became public property after the Indians brought the GCI campaign against the damage estimates to Berlin.
What made matters worse for the GCI was that after applying these valuation schemes, the total damage bill turned out not to be so alarming—the annual damages at a doubling of CO2 would be no more than 2% of global GDP. Damages of that magnitude could easily support moderately costed steps to mitigation (especially ‘no-regrets’ efficiency measures) but hardly the drastic immediate action that the GCI and other activists were demanding. So, not only was the devaluation of the poor lives taken as demeaning, but this analysis appears to get the rich nations off the hook for all the pollution they had caused in becoming wealthy—and that they continued to cause in staying wealthy and healthy as the globe warms. That, at least, is how the GCI called it, and the argument was catching. The Guardian explains how the draft report purports to show…
…that the cost of reducing greenhouse gas emissions would probably be greater than 2 per cent of Gross World Product (GWP). While the losses if greenhouse gas emissions were not curbed would amount to only 1.5 to 2 per cent of GWP. The implication, Aubrey [Meyer] argued, was that if these figures were allowed to stand it would mean that the world community would do very little to slow the warming because it would believe it was cheaper not to.
(by Douthwaite, 1Nov95)
The author of this newspaper report is in fact a member of GCI but other journalists and delegates would also follow the GCI lead in making a direct comparison of these two figures from two parts of the Assessment—mitigation costs (>2%) against annual damages at 2xCO2 (1.5 – 2%) — a comparison that is not entirely fair (as Pearce would later explain). All the same, the conclusion is more or less right: the total damages are assessed in a range that goes nowhere to support actions beyond those that are either cheap or that we might do anyway for other reasons. Whereas, if all life were valued at the rich country rate, or in according to different criteria suggested by the GCI, then the damages due to Climate Change would be assessed much higher, and so they would justify the more drastic and expensive action aimed at stopping global warming altogether. Unfortunately these alternatives methods of calculation were not in, or supported by, the peer review literature. On this bases alone the Chapter 6 authors could, and did, refuse repeated demands to include these alternative calculations in their Assessment.
Nature picked up the story after the inter-governmental Plenary in Geneva failed to approve the WGIII Summary for Policymakers
What further infuriated the poor nation delegations was that the IPCC Report also assessed that climate change would have a much greater impact on impoverished and agrarian cultures, with the body count in the developing world far outstripping the count among the air-conditioned rich. Thus, not only were the Global CBA calculations suggesting that it would be cheaper to take very little action to slow the warming, but it would be cheaper… because…well…because saving the lives of those thousands of poor folks just ain’t worth it. That this discrimination in the accounting of lives conveniently serves the interests of the rich-countries is made explicit in the GCI’s formal response to the first draft of the Assessment:
The key question which now also arises is this: are all human lives equally valuable or not? Moreover, should economists employed by the nations responsible for causing the problems of climate change, have the job of valuing the lives which are going to be lost? And even more to the point, should they value the lives of the people who are not responsible for creating the climate changes, as less valuable than the lives of those responsible? Surely we all have a fundamentally equal right to be here: surely each person is equally valuable in this fundamental way? So far the global cost-benefit analysts say no, this is not the case.
Uncertainty and the Economics of Genocide
In his critiques, Meyer also elaborated concerns about the level of uncertainty. Even if we accept the methodology of Global CBA, the Report appears to ride roughshod over the layers and layers of uncertainty and the gaping holes in the data (see Meyer and Cooper 1995 pdf ). These inadequacies are indeed elaborated in the Report to such an extent that they seemingly precluding a quantifiable result within any meaningful range. Yet, a positive result is declared, it is well defined and it is presented unqualified by a confidence interval.
In the introduction to Blueprint for a Green Economy [1989, p 13-14] Pearce reminds us that any uncertainties about economic impacts of greenhouse gas emissions ride on top of the uncertainties about regional impacts on sea level and climate (he mentions the limitations of the climate models), and these in turn ride on top of the uncertainties about the climate sensitivity (he mentions especially the problem of cloud feedback). Yet, in Chapter 6 the economic damage resulting from 2xCO2 is presented in a precise range of one two hundredth of GDP. Even if the expected impacts of the business-as-usual scenario are taken as given—as solid, definite certainties—then equating 2xCO2 with 1.5% to 2% damage to GDP still remains an incredible declaration when we consider the level of success that economists have in predicting other impacts on GDP more than a few years in advance.
It was not only the GCI who were concerned this quantification of damages within a 0.5% range might mislead policymakers. Others began to speak out, including Michael Grubb from the UK RIIA and a lead author of the Report’s Chapter 2. Grubb is quoted in the press saying that this damages estimate is ‘ridiculously definite.’ He considered that such an accurate assessment at this time is impossible. And the inter-governmental Plenary seemed to agree. But when they agreed to replace the figures with the words ‘a few percent,’ Pearce was outraged. While Tol was fighting on the floor the various distortions and interpolations introduced under GCI influence into the Summary for Policymakers, it was the removal of this aggregate damage estimate that angered Pearce the most. He saw the removal of these figures from the Summary as a direct attack by a misinformed Plenary on the scientific integrity of his report—and their removal remained Pearce’s principal concern long after publication (see here).
If Pearce was fighting for the integrity of the scientific process in the making of the Assessment, Meyer was fighting against the use of definitive quantitative statements in a pretense to scientific precision. And to what effect this pretense? Whether consciously or not, this pseudo-science could easily serve to legitimate a diabolical crime. ‘If IPCC puts its imprimatur on this material by publishing it, this unsafe and discriminatory data will become official advice to the UN negotiating process.’ Not only would this send the wrong signal about action on climate change, but publishing Chapter 6 would provide the rationale for sacrificing the poor to the unabated economic advancement of the rich. In fact, Meyer goes as far as to call this ‘the economics of genocide’:
The calculations the governments are being asked to endorse are profoundly unreliable and could provide an excuse for them to do nothing. By placing such a low value on the lives of most of the world’s people they seem to endorse the economics of genocide.
[quoted in The Independent on Sunday, 23Jul95 ]
Is this really what sustainable economics amounts to? The blueprints for universal and sustained prosperity is realised into the cold-hearted reasoning of an Orwellian nightmare. How could this UN process have come to this horror so soon after launching onto the world stage that marvelous vision for a prosperous common future on this planet?
Part II: Economic Enthusiasm will be published shortly. It begins by showing how the SAR Working Group III grew out of the global sustainable development movement, it then tracks the development of the controversy before finishing with an amateur critique of the Chapter 6 damages assessment.
Many folks have generously assisted with the research on the Price of Life Controversy. The author is especially grateful to the following: Richard Tol who answered many questions, providing a copy of the Montreal Plenary minutes and providing draft corrections; Sam Fankhauser, William Nordhaus and Erik Haites who responded to many queries; and Aubrey Meyer who responded to many queries and assisted in my navigation around the GCI archive. Others, including the IPCC’s Jonathan Lynn, assisted in the futile search for Plenary drafts and comments. John Zillman offered the first introduction to the controversy.
Any errors of fact in the posts are by the author. Notification of corrections are encouraged and they will be applied (using strike through) and acknowledged as soon as they are verified.
15 January 2013 - "Anthropocentrists and Biocentrists are free to support C&C." Climate Ethics ed. Ved Nanda
Principles are also needed for the allocation and restriction of carbon emissions and the emission of carbon-equivalent gases. Whatever an acceptable level of greenhouse gases may be, it is difficult, if not impossible, to justify any human being having a greater entitlement than any other to emit these gases (the principle of equality). The fact that one's ancestors emitted more such gases before the theory of anthropogenic global warming came to light in the 1980s fails in my view to justify reducing this entitlement, since those emissions were discharged in ignorance and not known to take place at others' expense.
The fact that the status quo and the current world economic system implicate much greater emissions for developed countries than this principle would recognize fails to justify these countries or their peoples retaining this differential or being allowed differential entitlements. So, if countries are allowed to act and to exercise responsibilities on behalf of their populations then the entitlements of countries should be proportional to their populations (as calculated at some agreed date). An international regime should, if so, be introduced to give effect to such entitlements, a regime that would authorize countries not using their full entitlement to trade the unused component with countries wishing to exceed their entitlement. This would clearly be a redistributive system, even if the acceptable total were to be steadily reduced to stabilize total emissions.
This is the system of Contraction and Convergence proposed by Aubrey Meyer and variously defended by Peter Singer, Dale Jamieson and myself (Meyer 2005: Singer 2002: Jamieson 2005: Attfield 2003. J 79_(81).
Contraction, Convergence and Equity
How well does such a system accord with ethical theory particularly if anthropocentrism and sentientism are to be rejected in favour of a more biocentric approach? I want to tackle here some issues of two different kinds. First, there are issues of the consistency of the Contraction and Convergence approach with biocentrism and its recognition of the importance of making proper provisions for non-human species. Secondly, there are issues relating to the difference made by biocentrism to what we should aim at in a global regime to cope with climatic change and related issues.
On the face of it, Contraction and Convergence could be accused of anthropocentrism, since the entitlements that it recognizes are for human beings and for them alone. This might almost seem like a human takeover of the atmosphere's absorptive capacities. Even though humans depend on a whole range of ecosystems, the functioning of which would have to be provided for, this recognition still seems to derive from human interests alone, and not to embody the least concern for other species.
However, calculations of emission entitlements would need to take into account the normal functioning of ecosystems whether they benefit humanity or not. Thus the methane buried in temperate wetlands and in tundra has to be allowed for, since its emission is largely beyond human control. Admittedly, the mitigating of greenhouse gas emissions requires not exacerbating these emissions, but their lack of benefit to humanity does not mean that they can be disregarded or that their contribution to the proportion of carbon-equivalent gases in the atmosphere can or should be forgotten. Much the same applies to the emissions both of oxygen (welcome) and of carbon dioxide (less welcome) from tropical forests and from oceanic vegetation. These ecological processes are part of the background to issues about the shape of global climate agreements, and Contraction and Convergence has no tendency not to take them into account.
Much the same should be said about the emissions of wild animals, whether plentiful ones like bees and ants or rare ones like tigers and pandas. Some of these species arc vital for human interests; among the species just mentioned, bees are the clearest example. However, even the kinds that are not, such as perhaps snakes and spiders, must be recognized as having their own patterns of ingestion and excretion, just like the trees, the plankton and the seaweeds discussed implicitly in connection with forest and ocean ecosystems. Any attempt to appropriate or seize their ecological niches would be both arrogant and disastrous, except where as pests, they need to be controlled to allow human food to be grown and stored.
Bio centric theorists can welcome these necessities, where anthropocentric ones may regard them with resignation, but both kinds of theorist are free to support Contraction and Convergence in at least some of its varieties, for Contraction and Convergence has no tendency to colonize the entire surface of the planet in the cause of policing emissions. Besides, there are strong grounds for preserving wild species, and supporters of Contraction and Convergence, whether anthropocentric or bio centric, has no need to disregard them.
Where domestic animals are concerned, the situation is different, since their numbers, and to some degree, their kinds are subject to human control. Accordingly, the emissions of such creatures are to be regarded as part of the tally of human emissions. If, as it might, Contraction involves rearing fewer heads of livestock and fostering a more vegetarian diet, this possible implication would have to be carried through as part of the human responsibility. There would probably be other responsibilities to preserve the various domesticated species, if not their current populations, but such responsibilities could readily be reconciled with an agreed climate regimen. Maybe these responsibilities would focus on the good of our human successors, or maybe they would relate to possible future members of nonhuman kinds, and to their welfare. So far, then, I conclude that there is nothing objectionable about the way in which Contraction and Convergence focuses on human entitlements. There would be, if its advocates were to claim that non-bearers of these entitlements only ever be carried instrumental value but there is not the least requirement of rationality or consistency for them to say this.
Contraction, Convergence and Biocentrism.
It is time to tum to the second kind of issue mentioned earlier and to ask what difference non-anthropocentric kinds of environmental ethics make in matters of climate regimens. So far, I have claimed that all kinds of theories of environmental ethics can support Contraction and Convergence in some form or other. But might sentientism and biocentrism make a difference as to which form is to be favored? In principle, they must make a difference, because they supplement the human interests to be considered with the interests of billions of sentient nonhumans, and in the case of biocentrism, non-sentient creatures in their trillions. If we add to these interests the interests of future members of those species, their accumulated strength is vast. These interests would usually be added to the scales in favour of policies of mitigation, since in the absence of such policies, numerous species are at risk of extinction, many of them species with a strong prospect of survival well beyond the eventual demise of humanity, unless they are eliminated in the future. While some creatures would doubtless benefit from the demise or decimation of humanity, the ecosystems on which most wildlife depends could well be at risk if policies of mitigation are not adopted by human agents, or adopted too feebly or too late.
Certainly there are human interests to be weighed against these policies, or which involve competition for resources. But in many cases, there would be ways of combining the policies of mitigation and adaptation with the policies that these interests support such as policies of development, which could be combined with climate change policies, and in some cases enhanced by them. For example, during the first few decades of Contraction and Convergence, resources would flow to poor but populous countries that were not yet in a position to deploy their full emissions entitlement, and which might well decide to trade the unused component; such resources could be used both towards their own adaptation and for development.
In practice, what is at issue concerns the emissions cuts needed to prevent a two-degree (Celsius) increase in temperatures above pre-Industrial Revolution averages. Conventional policies, for example, ones tolerating 450 ppm of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, could allow this to happen, despite purporting to prevent it. Current levels are 380 ppm of carbon dioxide, plus 60 ppm of carbon-equivalent greenhouse gases (methane. nitrous oxide, etc.) (Monbiot 2006, 15-17), but to ensure that the two-degree increase is avoided, the total level of carbon plus carbon-equivalent gases would apparently need to fall to a total of 400 ppm (Monbiot, 2007 15-17: Brown 2002: Baer, Athanasiou & Kanha 2007). With levels continuing to rise, attaining this level is likely to involve cuts that are both early and severe.
From an anthropocentric perspective, the case for such early and severe cuts might seem less than secure, in view of losses to productivity and to the desirable attainments that productivity can support. Here, then, it is of great importance that the ethical case not be confined to the limited scope of anthropocentrism. Scientism strengthens the case to some degree, requiring agents to heed the difference that can be made to mammals, birds, and perhaps reptiles and fish. But a much greater difference is made when the interests of the non-sentient majority of creatures are added. I am not suggesting that government negotiators are likely to be impressed by the numbers involved. Relevant considerations are likelier to be the arrogance of disregarding both current non-human life and the future of life on Earth in general. Plausibly, biocentrism would justify reducing the atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases to below 400 ppm of carbon plus carbon-equivalent gases: it certainly indicates this much more securely than sentientism and cry much more securely than anthropocentrism. (This point is made by Donald Brown (Brown 2002) in chapter 12.) All these levels are of course, consistent with one version of Contraction and Convergence or another, but they make a very large difference as to which version is adopted, and to which forms of energy-generation, production, travel and transport are selected.
Someone might here suggest that ecocentrism would sustain an even stronger case. Here, I beg to differ. For all the living creatures belonging to ecosystems have been included already within biocentrism, and the claim that ecosystems count for themselves independently of the creatures they sustain thus amounts to advocacy of double-counting. Certainly ecosystems are important, but their importance, I suggest, lies in the value of the creatures that they support and can continue to support, rather than in some independent value of their own. No doubt defenders of ecocentrism would claim to have a yet stronger case to present for emission reductions: my view, however, is that it is not a good case, and that environmental ethicists should appeal to biocentrisrn instead.
It is, once again, of the greatest importance that not all kinds of theories of environmental ethics support the same policies: this kind of convergence view (Norton 1991) is surely misguided. Biocentrism supports far stronger policies than anthropocentrism, however weak, Aristotelian or enlightened and considerably stronger policies than sentientism. Since it is also a more grounded theory, these stronger policies should be adopted for that reason. Hence the best way to face climate change is to appeal to a renewed environmental ethic of a non-anthropocentric, biocentric kind.
12 January 2013 - Someone started a campaign for C&C on '38 Degrees' & it would be good to support them.
QV Global Commons Institute and Contraction and Convergence as the only equitable approach to reducing the impact of anthropogenic climate change. Current lack of policy or its analogue is essentially genocide by any other name.
12 January 2013 - Draft C-BAT User Interface on view. "This will be a very powerful model." Terry O'Connell
As things stand with Carbon Budget Analysis Tool [C-BAT] development so far, 400 different carbon-path-integrals have been computed using the numeraire of 'one tonne of carbon'.
These are now being animated in a user-friendly way. All derived details have been quantified. These values will be shown in the inter-active 'clocks', synchrohized with the use of the budget-control slider.
This makes risk analysis of all the future rates of change much easier to compare and evaluate with respect to prospects of achieving - or failing to achieve - UNFCCC-compliance. As runaway rates of climate change not threaten us, the danger is in failing to realize that solving the problem too-slowly is actually failing to solve it at all.
A static concept-view of the C-BAT User-Interface [Domain One High Budget] is shown here and above. Overall, there are three Budgets categories - High, Medium & Low - with two ways of measuring feedbacks [Integrated & Segregated] on these.
The animated version of this gives users 'Budget Control' with the drag up/down slider on the right-hand side. The control takes the carbon-emissions budget and associated concentrations [set at CAF-50% at reference position zero] in 40 measured steps up and down from the reference position by weight of carbon.
DOMAIN ONE is the primary 'control-domain' with regard to assessing budget weights/rates/dates with a view to achieving UNFCCC-Compliance.
The model is designed so that C-BAT users - at least conceptually - do have this fundamental control.
At this level, it is what Michael Meacher once called 'a heueristic device'. Hopefully, considered use of this will enable more effective lobbying of Parties to the UNFCCC to come together in a formation where compliance with the UNFCCC-objective is the clear and finite goal.
Use of the device should help to draw the line in favour of collectively doing enough soon enough - and against doing too little too late - to achieve this goal.
Concentrations, temperature, sea-level rise and ocean CO2 deposition/acidification are 'consequences' of this 'Budget Control' and all values [sourced] for these consequential indicators are shown on 'clocks' that will move in synch with the slide use for 'Budget Control'.
The key point is that domains two, three and four are completely governed by user choices made in domain one. These domains will exchange with the centre-stage of position [here of Domain one] when their icons on the left are touched. Then the Slider over the years [2010 - 2110] becomes active, for example for selecting, measuring and weighing the convergence-rates/weights/dates for the contraction rate chosen for UNFCCC-compliance from Domain one.
John Bellamy Foster is the editor of Monthly Review and professor of sociology at the University of Oregon.
Brett Clark is assistant professor of sociology at the University of Utah.
Capitalism today is caught in a seemingly endless crisis, with economic stagnation and upheaval circling the globe. But while the world has been fixated on the economic problem, global environmental conditions have been rapidly worsening, confronting humanity with its ultimate crisis: one of long-term survival. The common source of both of these crises resides in the process of capital accumulation. Likewise the common solution is to be sought in a “revolutionary reconstitution of society at large,” going beyond the regime of capital.
It is still possible for humanity to avert what economist Robert Heilbroner once called “ecological Armageddon.” The means for the creation of a just and sustainable world currently exist, and are to be found lying hidden in the growing gap between what could be achieved with the resources already available to us, and what the prevailing social order allows us to accomplish. It is this latent potential for a quite different human metabolism with nature that offers the master-key to a workable ecological exit strategy.
It follows that the downsizing of ecological footprints to get the world back in accord with environmental limits must necessarily fall very disproportionately on the rich capitalist countries. The only just and sustainable solution is one of contraction and convergence, whereby global per capita carbon emissions and ecological footprints are equalized, along with the elimination of unequal ecological exchange.
06 January 2013 - "C&C: the problem is the structures that prevent its implementation." Nafeez Mossadeq Ahmed
The problem is that by accepting neoliberal capitalist markets as a given, carbon trading overlooks the systemic origins of climate change. Such market-oriented solutions are inspired by Aubrey Meyer’s ‘Contraction & Convergence’ (C&C) model of action for global emissions reductions.
‘Contraction’ requires the adoption of a safe target for atmospheric CO2, as the basis for calculating a declining progression of annual global emissions toward that target by a specific target year, as agreed on the basis of climate science.
‘Convergence’ requires the assignment of annual emissions quotas to each country which converge toward a common level of per capita emissions by the target year. Added to this is a market-based carbon-trading plan to permit wealthier, high emitters to purchase emissions rights from poorer, low emitters.
The problem with the C&C model is not the model itself – which certainly identities one viable path of global action – but the lack of attention to the socio-political and economic structures that prevent policymakers from genuinely implementing the C&C model in the first place.
We often have trouble accepting hard truths. While most of us agree that global temperatures have increased at a very rapid rate in the last century or so, many of us don’t like to admit we’ve caused it. However, the debate about the existence of human-induced climate change is finally at an end.
Around half a billion of us wake up in warm houses over a lifetime of winters. We have toast and coffee and hot showers every morning. Suitably fortified, we drive to work and get on with our lives and may go to a fine beach every now and then for a well-deserved weekend break. We have good intentions and lead reasonable lives. But the energy that supports our activities comes mostly from the burning of fossil fuels and so too with our parents and grandparents.
All this, in conjunction with much else, results in the thickening of a band of greenhouse gases, which heats things up, slowly raising sea levels, and fifty years down the line, after the toast and the coffee, a coastal village in China is inundated. Drinking water is contaminated, crops fail, and people starve to death. People who might have had tolerable lives have awful lives. Whose fault is it?
No one intended it. No single hot shower or cup of coffee was significant enough to cause direct harm. No single life on its own did any harm, yet who is responsible?
It is here, at these very questions of justice associated with climate change that we find James Garvey’s slim, thought-provoking text that navigates the murky waters of climate change from a morally philosophical stance.
Titled the Ethics of Climate Change: Right and Wrong in a Warming World, Garvey’s short book stands as an introductory text, designed to tackle a highly relevant, yet dauntingly complex and serious question. In his timely book on the ethics of climate change, Garvey, Secretary of the Royal Institute of Philosophy, seeks to provide answers to those questions of climate change through the lens of moral philosophy.
Calmly and carefully, with well-marshalled facts and sound arguments, Garvey demonstrates the injudicious ways the nations and citizens of the industrialized world are behaving. He argues that scientific evidence, although crucial, cannot single-handedly generate action and that individual and governmental responses to the problem are primarily a function of values.
The use of imperative scientific fact, coupled with competing understandings of moral value and different conceptions and levels of moral responsibility makes Garvey’s book an engaging and provocative read. The book’s core message- that governmental action to transform human use of the atmosphere is morally imperative – is both well-argued and compelling. The author’s accessible and well-structured style makes The Ethics of Climate Change a compelling and delicious read for anyone interested in the urgent moral questions raised by our contemporary climate crisis.
In the first chapter, Garvey begins with the relevant science underpinning his message and analysis and addresses the settled scientific opinion on the climate of our warming world. Designed in a way that is both comprehensible and compelling, Garvey’s account of the science behind our changing climate is written in the first chapter with several concerns. His aim, with the support of objective findings from credible sources, is to convince the undecided or uninformed that climate change is not a distant prospect but is already at work.
He also aims to dispel the idea that there is a serious scientific debate about the existence of anthropogenic climate change and attempts to consider some scientific predictions concerning the detrimental impact of climate change unearthed by respected organisational bodies. Citing comparable findings from authoritative organisational bodies such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the American Meteorological Society, Garvey’s opening chapter paints a dramatic and catastrophic future ahead for mankind if our actions persist unchanged.
The moral argument begins in chapter 2. Temporarily leaving climate change behind, Garvey rather oddly takes the opportunity to review the dominant theories of morality and the nature of justifications for moral beliefs. Contemplating the major philosophical works of Emmanuel Kant and Jeremy Bentham, Garvey weighs up the justifications for moral beliefs through a Utilitarian and Kantian moral lens. He later addresses various ethics from an environmental stance, demonstrating the importance of value in our justification of ethics.
Garvey’s intended purpose for this chapter was to serve as a means to show that it is possible to justify moral claims as well proving why having morals and acting upon them is important. This is done effectively although the arguments can come across as unnecessary and sometimes condescending. The explanations of consistency, utilitarianism and Kantian conceptions of right and wrong are interesting and fairly pertinent, however, I felt Garvey would do better in a book of this length to assume the possibility to justify moral claims and proceed to the substantive questions. It is also evident that his discussion on environmental ethics is not formulated in a way that is particularly relevant to the main argument and probably should have either been left out or better linked to the issue in hand.
Garvey then turns his attention to the question of responsibility in chapter 3. Meaningful change, Garvey stresses, will require collective action on an unprecedented scale, which in turn will require the effective assignment and assumption of responsibility.
His use of examples and analogies help to frame the moral dilemmas Garvey is trying to convey and helps to emphasize the indefinite impact of individual decisions. As he claims on page 61, “It is almost as though I am jointly responsible, with a million other people, for a billion little actions, in a trillion little moments. Each act is nothing in itself, each person does no obvious wrong, but together the results are catastrophic.”
In this chapter he also articulates three moral principles aimed at guiding reflection on who should bear the burden of responsibility for taking action against climate change. The principles may be simply stated: historical responsibilities (the ‘You broke it, you bought it’ intuition), present capacities (if you have the resources to address the problem, you should do so) and sustainability (concerned with our responsibility not to damage or use up the resources needed for survival by future generations).
Later in chapter 5, Garvey adds a fourth principle – procedural fairness (decisions concerning policy should be made in a manner that is fair to all participants and should take relevant scientific information into account). These first three principles lead Garvey to conclude that it is the developed world – especially the USA – that needs to shoulder the burden of responsibility in dealing with climate change.
Because the countries of the developed world are responsible for the bulk of current and historic carbon dioxide emissions (although developing countries such as China and India are beginning to catch up), they need to do most to resolve the problem. Garvey also convincingly argues that because their cumulative emissions are many times greater than those of developing countries and because far more of their emissions are luxury emissions, the bulk of moral responsibility for harm caused rests with developed countries.
Equally convincing, Garvey argues that developed countries have the most responsibility to act now, not just because they have caused the majority of atmospheric problems, but also because they generally have greater financial and technological capacity and apparatus to do so. The principle on sustainability, on the other hand, applies to everyone, including developing countries, and raises the possibility that poor countries might have to engage in ‘belt-tightening’ too. Here Garvey falls back on his first two principles to insist that the principle of sustainability should not be used to prevent countries with starving populations from developing economically. He concludes by expressing the hope that ‘the developed world will see to it that the developing world will leapfrog the worst industrialization and join the rest of us living sustainable lives’ (Garvey, 2008: 87).
According to Garvey, producing carbon dioxide – that is to say, using more than our fair share of carbon sinks – is not simply wrong in the present. What we do now carries consequences into the future. Accordingly, he challenges us to consider that moral responsibility is not limited by any kind of proximity. We have as much a duty to reduce our carbon emissions for the sake of the starving child on the other side of the planet as we do the starving child a thousand years from now.
Having established the moral inadequacy of arguments for inaction, Garvey turns his sights in the subsequent chapter, to what changes are morally imperative and draws connections between moral implications of climate change and the scope for real-world governmental action.
Titled ‘Doing Something’, Garvey suggests, once again, his three criteria that any morally adequate proposal must take into account- historical responsibility, present capacities and sustainability – and rightly points to contraction and convergence, a framework that would aim for total global emissions to contract per capita emissions broadly converge, as a morally attractive emission reduction strategy. Although this chapter was on the whole among the book’s most effective and pragmatic, Garvey’s talk of sanctions, while well intentioned, comes across as punitive and counter-productive in light of geopolitical reality.
Having focused most of the book on the moral dimensions of climate change for governments, Garvey focuses his last chapter on the need for individual action. He points out that the majority of readers emit many more greenhouse gases than most other people on the planet and then refutes the ten common “excuses for inaction”. He does this effectively and pragmatically, however fails to suggest any specific lifestyle changes individuals can make that may be particularly effective. He raises some very valid points that do trigger the reader’s conscience, however, without offering alternative lifestyle options to the reader, such as what one eats, his aim in this chapter slightly falls dead on its feet. More importantly, he barely explores the extent to which individuals can influence governmental policy.
Having concentrated intently on the role of states, it is a curious and unfortunate omission. Garvey could have been much more explicit about just how important systematic solutions such as carbon prices are and could have highlighted the victories concerned with citizens who have already won. By not drawing those connections and by creating the illusion that government functions mostly in a vacuum, Garvey misses a big opportunity that could have had a far more profound impression on his readers.
Overall, I found Garvey’s book a pleasure to read. I thought he brought into light some serious issues concerning climate change from an ethical stance, which I feel is much needed if we are to tackle any of these issues. His employment of peer-reviewed scientific observations and well-reasoned arguments help to dispel any lingering doubts the reader may have summoned. With his use of carefully schooled facts and clearly marshalled arguments littered throughout the text, Garvey is able to convey some convincing points and lay out the ethical questions involved.
Garvey’s moral calculations can also be challenged in reference to his example of the starving child and the impairment of our moral duty with proximity. Garvey readily stresses throughout the text that our carbon emissions are what have caused hunger and injury. However Garvey seems to forget that famine, drought and disease have historically always been part of life for individuals and communities living at the edge of society. Such forms of poverty are not new, but they are ‘natural’. If, in a wealthy country, we were to stumble across some case of poverty, we would not say that the conditions people were living in were the result of climate change. We would not, as Garvey does, say that it was a consequence of our ‘moral failure’ to consider the connection between our CO₂ producing actions and their consequences. We would instead suggest it was a social problem, arising out of material inequality.
Garvey also has a tendency to oversimplify both the problems and solutions rooted in his message. He is absolutely right to question the morality of the current use of the planet’s carbon sinks but is wrong to pay so little attention to the risks of perfect equality of emissions as a better alternative. He only briefly engages in the Rawlsian view that an unequal distribution of resources is acceptable if and when it helps the worst-off, yet the complex interconnections between economies, carbon emissions and well-being are neither simply understood nor easily unravelled. In light of that complexity, the Rawlsian perspective should have been afforded more consideration.
The book is primarily rooted in philosophy and could not be expected to address detailed policy options. However, it could have and should have further pursued the idea that it is not enough just to reduce emissions – they must be reduced intelligently, equitably and efficiently, otherwise carbon reduction efforts risk harming many more people than they help, which would hardly be morally defensible.
Using the right language in the right arenas can prove vital to the impact that a book’s message can convey. In his book, Garvey employs a conversational-type approach, which is both accessible and absorbing and may help with the intended aim of the book and the audience to which it is aimed at, which he claims is ‘an intelligent normal person’. However, at times, Garvey can be condescending and patronising in his tone and frequently adopts almost baby-talk in his use of the words such as ‘stuff’ and ‘willy nilly’. There is also an over-extended pre-occupation with the use of the feminine personal pronoun so that the author can display his rights on credentials which can prove frustrating at times.
It is evident, then, that climate change is going to pose some very serious and unpleasant moral questions and it has been Garvey’s aim in his book Ethics of Climate Change: Right and Wrong in a Warming World to address such questions and to arouse his readers into realising that climate change is happening now and how we respond to its changes should be ethically determined. Garvey has given himself a strenuous task of incorporating questions of ethics into climate change values and I feel such arguments made could have been extended. Despite Garvey claiming the book stands as an introductory text, I felt such multifaceted issues raised in the book should have been more meticulous. I feel Garvey’s style of writing and tone, despite being condescending at times, has been one of his strengths which he should, in my view, have taken full advantage of. His style is extremely comprehendible, whilst interspersed with powerful imagery and easy-to-relate-to anecdotes that make it a pleasure to read despite the fact that it tackles a complex subject with many interpretations, contestations and theoretical underpinnings. I feel Garvey could have successfully extended the book and delved further into some of his arguments, yet still maintained the interest and awareness of the reader, whilst simultaneously fabricating a more thorough and balanced array of arguments and even solutions.
All in all though, I feel Garvey has partially achieved the aim he embarked on with this given text. He has generated an awareness of the power of individual activity and has raised some thought-provoking points that one can question. As he points out on page 147, “the point is not to push a conclusion on you but to point you towards some conclusions about your own life which you might work out for yourself”. After all, it is the little effects that are the only effects we’ll ever have. He has also succeeded in bringing attention to the fact that our actions and the choices our generations make in the next few years will ripple out into the future and affect people, ecosystems and earth systems both spatially and temporally, in ways we are still uncertain of. The atmosphere may be characterized as our most critical common natural heritage. It is free for all to use and our lives depend on it. However, as Garvey has emphasized, we all have a moral duty to take responsibility for our actions – actions that have an overwhelmingly penetrative effect on other living creatures and it is up to our choices, as individuals, which will pave the way towards momentous changes.
We are the enemy, just as we have only ourselves as allies.
About the author
Victoria Moore holds a first class honours in Geography and an M.Sc. in Environmental Governance from Manchester University. She has worked as a geography tutor and recently returned from a six month journey through Asia. Victoria is passionate about the environmental movement and aspires to have a positive impact on the planet through her work and play!
From the book.
The equal per capita option is certainly a live possibility.
"One of the most attractive versions is called “Contraction and Convergence” (C&C), and it rightly receives a lot of attention. As the name suggests, C&C is a model with two parts. The governments of the world begin by reaching agreement on some particular greenhouse-gas target: some global limit to emissions and a date by when this limit must be reached. C&C can then determine how quickly current emissions must contract in order to achieve the target. On the way to the target date, global emissions converge to equal per capita shares.
The moral adequacy of this particular proposal depends on how its parts are cashed out. The Global Commons Institute, the largest advocate of C&C, makes a point of emphasizing what we have been calling the sustainability criterion: the greenhouse-gas budget we opt for ought to be tied to our best current scientific thinking, and it ought to be extremely risk-adverse.
A large emphasis is not placed on historical responsibility, but certainly C&C requires larger burdens for faster and more substantial reductions on the part of developed countries. It does satisfy at least a large part of the present capacities and entitle-ments criterion, most obviously because ilt aims towards equal per capita emissions, but also because it allows for emissions trading. Whatever else it might do, emissions trading tends to narrow the gap between the rich and the poor.
Finally, C&C is at least a long way down the road to procedural fairness. Rooted as it is in the notion that everyone has equal access to the atmosphere, there's just no room for either horse trading or bullying. From a moral point of view, C&C has a great deal to recommend it."
Since going to press, COP18 suggests the 2 °C limit has been surpassed and the world is heading towards a 4–6 °C increase in global temperatures, making agreement on the C&C target described in this paper, or lower, more urgent than ever before (see Peters et al. 2012).
As yet, there is no target for carbon emissions (CE) empirically established for human development. Respected economists have made educated guesses ranging 2-6 tonnes per capita (Stern 2008: Ekins et al. 2009: Hansen 2009: Schmidt-Bleek 2009: Garnaut 2011 ). But the issue spans climate science, public health, economic development and human ethics under the umbrella of global warming (e.g. Stern 2006: Frumkin et al. 2008). Copenhagen achieved multilateral agreement on a limit of ~2 OC warming, beyond which it was agreed there would be unacceptable impact, on biosocial systems (McGrdy 2010). This then creates an upper ceiling of total allowable emissions based on constraining the atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide (Hare and Meinshausen 2CXl6).
Leading up to 2050, the strongest modelling was developed by Meinshausen et al. (2009), whose seminal work demonstrated a 25 % risk of exceeding 2 °c with a total cumulative emissions budget of a trillion tonnes (1,000 Gigatonnes, Gt C) from 2000 to 2050 205(1. Using the same model, risk is reduced on the smaller budget of 750 Gt suggested by Hansen et al. (2008). The problem confronting both is that the world had already used up 234 Gt from 2000 to 2006 (Meinshausen et al. 20(9). As of 2011, global emissions peaked at a record high, prompting the international Energy Agency's Chief Economist Fatih Birol 10 warn “the door to a 2 °c trajectory is about to close.” (International Energy Agency 2012. p. I). Given current growth (see International Energy Agency 2012), close to half the entire Hansen budget will have been used up by mid-next year (2013), leaving much smaller ration~ for the next four decades. Delayed international action then makes the rate of change in the future much steeper and harder to adapt to for both advanced and developing economies. This raises an ethical dilemma in terms of both international and intergenerational equity because in order to satisfy the one it must undermine the other. This is because we are close to reaching the precipice of exceeding the 2 OC limit without allowing the bulk of the world's developing nations to reach parity with a minority of wealthier, carbon-intensive economies. Moreover, because global emissions (International Energy Agency 2010) and population (United Nations Population Division 2011 ) are both steadily growing, the yearly amount of allowable emissions compound the ethical problems yet to be confronted.
One principle that tries to balance the dilemma is Contraction and Convergence (C&C). Although the implementation rate was a stumbling block at Copenhagen and Durban (Meyer and O'Connell 2010), C&C begins to provide a fair platform for multilateral negotiations. This principle (see Global Commons Institute (GCI) 1996) first assumes that global CE will negatively impact human and planetary health in the longer term and so must be ‘contracted’ if we care about the likely impact on younger generations (e.g. Sherwood and Huber 2010). If it were not a normal public good, this would not present a problem, but because CE is tied to economic development (York et al. 2003: Rose et al. 2004), it means any pursuit of global contraction could result in recession or depression amongst advanced economies. This was suggested when the global financial crisis (GFC) reduced world emissions (see Jotzo et al. 2012). Although there is resistance to the idea of contraction, whether by a Pigovian tax or a trading scheme (Gamaut 2011 ), climate science suggests we have no choice. The alternative could be resource and energy wars and further destruction of ecologies subserving human survival (e.g. Parry et al. 2004 Thomas et al. 2004: Malcolm et al 2006). The second element of C&C is ‘convergence’, where every nation must be granted an equal portion of emissions per capita under a constrained global budget (Global Commons Institute (GCI 1996).
06 January 2013 - "These realities are not pretty." Climate Wars; C&C - Gwynne Dyer
Gwynne Dyer is an author, journalist, broadcaster and lecturer on international affairs, with a Ph.D. in Military and Middle Eastern History from the University of London.
This 2009 CBC radio series in three fifty-five minute episodes is an adaptation of Dyer's 2008 book Climate Wars, on the geo-politics of climate change. Climate Wars Podcast.
The premise is that firstly, over the course of history, we have always populated to the limits set by our regional environments; secondly, when an environment's limitations threaten the survival of a community, we have always raided other communities before we have starved – for people will do anything in preference to watching their children die.
But this book and podcast are not based on alarmist theory: they are founded on the well-established scientific evidence for climate change. The science is laid out, along with the reasons for climate change denial. Case studies are then made of regions at risk and likely scenarios of resulting political breakdown and conflict.
Over the next century, global warming will first destabilise regions that are resource-poor. Pakistan, for example, depends upon the Indus River, the world's largest contiguous river system, which first passes through India – which, by treaty, is entitled to not a proportion of this water, but a set volume. The Chinese Academy of Sciences has found that many Himalayan glaciers feeding such rivers are losing mass at a rate of 7% per year. Eventually, the failure of summer glacier melt will cause protracted droughts; as the flow diminishes, Pakistan's proportionate share of this water will decrease, before India's share does – which will destabilise the region. But that's just Pakistan: in total, one to two billion people in the Asian and Subcontinent regions depend upon glacier-fed Himalayan rivers. Furthermore, grain production is now flat-lining – at a time when we are looking at world population peaking at another two billion people, around 2050.
Pressure from climate change will make mass migration inevitable; but the less environmentally-challenged migration destinations will be wanting to safeguard their viability, as crop yields shrink: India has already built a fence along the Bangladesh border. As a last resort, when faced with insurmountable environmental pressures, nations will prefer to risk war, over death. While our governments pay lip service to addressing the issue, military strategists in The Pentagon and around the world are assessing regional destabilisations that may arise from climate change.
Options for carbon-neutral energy are examined. Bio-deisel from marine algae looks promising, as it contains 30-60% oil and so is easily refined. Also promising is a report from MIT scientists that there is untapped geothermal energy, which could provide base load electricity in many regions which can find 200°C rocks 2km below ground level – hot enough to boil water. (Another potential energy source, the Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor, which is much safer than the prevalent Light Water Reactor, is unfortunately not mentioned.)
We are fortunate that this crisis has come about in an age when there are viable alternatives to fossil fuels; however, there remains a lack of political will to move away from them. The discussion of this inertia leaves one feeling pessimistic about crucial changes to our energy infrastructure being implemented in time to avoid tipping points – after which, getting the climate back on track will be much more difficult.
Whatever we do now, we are committed to another forty years of warming, due to the time lag between atmospheric composition and temperature. It is very likely that we will be left with geo-engineering as a necessity, in order to buy time; this could also lead to conflict. Devising fair strategies for all countries to reduce fossil fuel use is essential: 'contraction and convergence' is discussed, a strategy by which the rich countries, who produce most of the greenhouse gasses, reduce emissions faster than the developing countries [C&C Section of the Book].
This is the most comprehensive summary of climate change and its implications that I've heard – reinforcing the conclusion that now is the crucial time for our governments to embrace carbon-neutral energy.
Only a groundswell of popular opinion will force the world's democracies to implement a transition away from fossil fuels: please encourage your friends to listen to this important series.
"Gwynne Dyer is one of the few who are both courageous enough to tell the unvarnished truth, and have the background to understand, not misrepresent the inputs. This book does a superb job of detailing the emerging realities of Climate/Energy. These realities are not pretty."