One of the UK’s leading climate policy researchers has concluded we need a planned economic contraction if we are to have any chance of avoiding catastrophic climate change. We take a look at some of the links between the credit crunch and the climate crunch with Tim Helweg-Larsen, director of the Public Interest Research Centre and co-author of the “Zero Carbon Britain” & “Climate Safety” reports. There’s also an appearance by Kevin Anderson (Research Director at the Tyndall Centre) and a live performance of the “Global Meltdown Derby” by Irish poet Grassy Noel.
- Might a planned or unplanned economic contraction be our best hope of achieving climate safety?
- What does the UK need to do right now to start leading from the front and change the game at the UN talks in Copenhagen later this year?
- Should we be focusing on demand management policies and move to a steady-state economy as soon as possible?
- If so, is carbon rationing our best tool for swift action on climate change?
- When will the UK realize that we have an offshore renewable energy goldmine just waiting for us to tap?
Britain can become free of fossil fuels and self-sufficient in energy and food in just 20 years. That is the conclusion of the most ambitious report yet on what Britain needs to do to play its part in avoiding dangerous climate change. What will Britain be like and how will we get there?
We speak to the co-ordinator and co-lead author of the Centre for Alternative Technology’s new report “Zero Carbon Britain”, Tim Helweg-Larsen. Why are Tradeable Energy Quotas expected to be the most effective way to drive the changes? What will be the impacts on transport, agriculture, buildings and – most importantly – our well-being?
CARBON RATIONING – Your questions answered
“The urgency with which we must make the transition to a low-carbon pathway leaves no option but to instigate a radical and immediate programme of demand management.” – Living Within A Carbon Budget (Tyndall Centre, 2006)
In five years time, we could all have an equal carbon allowance to buy our electricity and fuel with. This would help us play our part as an industrial nation in bringing global carbon dioxide emissions down rapidly to a relatively safe level. In a follow-up to last weeks interview with Mayer Hillman, Phil England puts some of your concerns and questions about carbon rationing (or tradeable energy quotas) to Richard Starkey of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research.
- How does Mayer Hillman’s scheme differ from David Fleming’?
- How does personal carbon trading compare to a carbon tax?
- Would the scheme make people more carbon conscious?
- Would the scheme allow the rich to continue their energy profligate lifestyles?
- Is there a danger that the scheme could be weakened by allowing carbon offsetting?
- How costly would the scheme be to set up and run?
- Would the scheme encourage a black market?
- How could energy used in the manufacture of products (embedded energy) be accounted for?
- Under the part of the scheme that relates to corporations would buy-out clauses such as the problematic Clean Development Mechanism be included which would render the scheme ineffective?
Thanks to everyone who submitted questions or comments: Alex Smith (Radio Ecoshock, Canada), Naomi Fowler (freelance radio producer), Tam Dougan (Network for Alternative Technology and Technoloy Assessment), Mark Aitken (producer of ResonanceFM’s I Can Hear The Grass Grow), Brian Ross (Stop Stansted Expansion), Roger Levett (Levett-Therivel Sustainability Consultants), Jonathan Essex (Sustainable Redhill).
Continuing our look at solutions, we have the great pleasure of presenting an interview with Mayer Hillman who came up with the concept of carbon rationing back in 1990. Mayer is a much admired policy strategist whose proposal has been snowballing in popularity to the point where Environment Minister David Milliband is now seriously championing the idea. His book “How We Can Save the Planet” (published by Penguin) is a layman’s guide to the idea of carbon rationing. It will finally be published in North America in April as “The Suicidal Planet: How to Prevent Global Climate atastrophe.”
Mayer is acutely aware that our business-as-usual attitude is propelling us towards disaster and that we need to act radically and with great speed. He reminds us of some harsh, uncomfortable truths and presents a compelling solution to our predicament.
Award-winning journalist George Monbiot explains why we need to cut carbon emissions in the UK by 90% by 2030. In his major new book “Heat – How to Stop the Planet Burnging” (Penguin Allen Lane) he sifts through all the policy options on the table (as well as coming up with some of his own) and looks at what might work and what won’t. “Heat” is no less than a survival manual for the biosphere. If we are to escape the worst impacts of climate change we need to start putting its recommendations into practice now. At present politicians seem incapable of doing this, so we need to do what ever it takes to force them to act.