Thursday, January 31, 2013

Ethics of emissions trading

"Emissions trading sounds like a compelling idea in principle but the practicalities are much less attractive. [...] it's depoliticized over-consumption (i.e. we are told it no longer matters who causes what harms, provided we all pay the right amount) [...] emissions trading carries a series of practical problems. A weak cap means increased emissions but a tight cap, based on a effective climatic targets would likely lead to regressive social consequences, for instance, privileging a Londoners' stag party over a Polish OAPs' warmth."

- Dr John Broderick in "Should we stop worrying about the environmental impact of flying?", Guardian 31st Jan 2013.

This neatly summarises one of my concerns with emissions trading schemes. The question of the relative social good associated with a particular set of emissions is assumed to be answered through a direct equation with the economic cost of that good. If a stag party for a rich Londoner costs as much as heating the home of an elderly Polish couple, then these social goods are deemed equivalent, despite the fact that one is a luxury while the other may well be a necessity under certain circumstances. In some ways, it is a similar issue to the globalisation of the food market. If there are wealthy people willing to pay for a luxury cash crop on another continent, this is taken as justifying the eradication of local food autonomy in a developing country.

But not all goods are commensurate on a common scale. It is not possible to put a price on everything. The logic of the market is not universally applicable.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Happy Amnesia Day

Language NSFW. Colonialist guilt NSFL.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Carbon offsets: you've got to be kidding

"[Y]ou shouldn't "kid yourself" that carbon offsetting can somehow lead you towards a status of carbon neutrality. It patently can't. But that shouldn't disguise the fact that many of the projects that carbon offsetters support are in of themselves "good" projects worthy of our support. My problem has always been - and is, in all probability, likely to remain - that carbon offsetting is both a distraction and a delusion. Fine, support those projects, but do so because they are worthwhile causes, not because you think it is somehow ameliorating your carbon "sins"."
- Leo Hickman, "What's the best form of carbon offsetting?", Guardian 6th July, 2010.
This is a good summary of my own position on person carbon offsets. I have not yet found reason a compelling reason to revisit that conclusion.

Monday, January 07, 2013

Climate change prayer

Holy God,
earth and air and water are your creation,
and every living thing belongs to you:
have mercy on us
as climate change confronts us.

Give us the will and the courage
    to simplify the way we live,
    to reduce the energy we use,
    to share the resources you provide,
    and to bear the cost of change.

Forgive our past mistakes and send us your Spirit,
    with wisdom in present controversies
    and vision for the future to which you call us
in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

©Anglican Church of Australia Trust Corporation. Used by permission This text may be reproduced for use in worship in the Anglican Church of Australia