Wednesday, April 22, 2015

TEQs or What are Your Views on the Environment?

At the election hustings organised by Radio Lincolnshire yesterday in Horncastle Market square, the parliamentary candidates were asked about the environment.  Romy Rayner, for the Green Party, took the question in her stride of course, and the Liberal said "No Fracking", but it was the Conservative candidate, Victoria Atkins, barrister, daughter of  former Tory minister Sir Robert Atkins, who gave the note-worthy reply.

Lincolnshire, she told us, had some beautiful scenery and she didn't want it spoiled by wind turbines.

And that was about it, that was our possibly future MP's policy on something as big as The Environment.

And to-day is Earth Day.

So let's just think about a few of the things Victoria Atkins didn't mention.  It's not all doom and gloom; there's the pair of peregrine falcons that have taken up residence on the spire of St. James's Church in Louth and have laid two eggs. Well, that might spell doom and gloom for some of the local pigeons but we should take a holistic view of the ecosystem and not get too sentimental about nature being red in tooth and claw.  2015 marks the 500th anniversary the completion of the spire.  Sadly, it has seen the best of its days and will not survive a further 500 years.  Louth stands only a few metres above present sea level and the Greenland and Antarctic Ice Sheets are no longer stable.  There's still doubt over just how quickly the ice can melt but as sure as peregrine eggs is eggs, the Greater North Sea will rise over the Lincolnshire Marsh to leave the higher ground of Louth as a seaside town on the banks of the Lud Estuary.  The church is on the lower ground.

Louth's survival, even as a seaside town, is actually in doubt as that presupposes that human civilisation will survive long enough to see the sea rise up that far.  A metre or two is on the cards for this century, the lifetime of Victoria's son, Monty.  That's enough to wipe out half of Bangladesh and much of the the most fertile and densely populated parts of Vietnam, south-east China, Thailand, Pakistan, Egypt and many other places.  A lot of people will be on the move. If they are still alive.

And here's the rub.  The now inevitable rise of sea level will be preceded by a rise in global average temperatures not seen since long before humankind walked the planet.  Our business-as-usual policies of Victoria's Tory Party and similar governments around the world lead inexorably to climate change in which the global agricultural system will collapse.  Billions will die before ever the sea washes over their graveyards.

Victoria wants economic growth and the nice views of Lincolnshire not interrupted by wind turbines.  I want for Victoria's Monty and my own granddaughter to have lives that will not be nasty, brutish and short.

So what shall we do?  On May the 7th vote Green, if in Louth & Horncastle vote Romy Rayner, but beyond that, the urgent task is to stop burning fossil carbon. We all can play our pert there. Divest from the fossil carbon complex and press the government to adopt a carbon capping mechanism to force change.

Which brings me to the real point of this blog, to announce the publication of the latest paper on Tradable Energy Quotas.  This is the mechanism, the instrument, that actually has the potential to change everything.  And Victoria Atkins probably knows nothing about it.  Get a step ahead:

Reconciling scientific reality with realpolitik: moving beyond carbon pricing to TEQs – an integrated, economywide emissions cap

Shaun Chamberlin Fleming Policy Centre
Larch Maxey Plymouth University, Network of Wellbeing
Victoria Hurth Plymouth University

Abstract This article considers why price-based frameworks may be inherently unsuitable for delivering unprecedented global emissions reductions while retaining the necessary public and political support, and argues that it is time to instead draw on quantitybased mechanisms such as TEQs (Tradable Energy Quotas).
TEQs is a climate policy framework combining a hard cap on emissions with the use of market mechanisms to distribute quotas beneath that cap.
The significant international research into TEQs is summarised, including a 2008 UK government feasibility study, which concluded that the scheme was “ahead of its time”. TEQs would cover all sectors within a national economy, including households, and findings suggest it could act as a catalyst for the socio-technical transitions required to maximise wellbeing under a tightening cap, while generating national common purpose towards innovative energy demand reductions.
Finally, there are reflections on the role that the carbon management community can play in further developing TEQs and reducing the rift between what climate science calls for and what politics is delivering. 


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