Saturday, November 28, 2009

increasing intensity

Three weeks ago I pointed out that accepting China's cuts in 'carbon intensity' rather than carbon emissions was useless.

It doesn't matter if you reduce the amount of carbon emitted per unit of activity if you then go and do a shitload more activity. It will still mean your total emissions will go up, and total emissions are all the climate's counting.

But a society predicated on infinite economic growth dare not cut its industrial activity. It would rather have - and with the move to 'carbon intensity' is actively choosing - a commitment to climate change, with all the long term death and destruction that will bring.

Having not called China out for this sleight of hand, we've made it an acceptable option. Today it's been reported that India is coming to the table talking of 'carbon intensity' cuts.

The growth economy will always choose the most profitable route, not the responsible one. Unless it happens to be the same, which, for fairly obvious reasons, it very rarely is. By allowing this shift to 'carbon intensity' we hand victory to the short-term profits of carbon emitters. It follows another rule of the profit-primary world, that the rich shall always take precedence over the poor.

it's the poorest of the poor in the world, and this includes poor people even in prosperous societies, who are going to be the worst hit
Rajendra Pachauri, IPCC chairman

3 comments:

John B said...

It follows another rule of the profit-primary world, that the rich shall always take precedence over the poor.

Eh? Surely the fact that all rich countries apart from Oz are making absolute cuts, whereas the two largest poor countries aren't, is a sign that the rich aren't taking precedence over the poor for once?

(also, Pachauri is surely scaremongering about 'poor people in prosperous societies'. The people who're seriously affected by CC will be in Bangladesh and Haiti, not in Burnage, Detroit or Hoyerswerda...)

The Hyppy said...

I think there are too big issues with regards to China. One is that most of what they make, they make for us in the West, so a lot of their industrial emissions aren't really theirs, but ours.

Secondly their efforts at population control have prevented the creation of 400 million consumers, which is not insignificant.

China and India are in a tricky situation. Most people agree the rich west needs to make cuts and that the poor deveoped world should be given a break. China and India though fall rather inconveniently in the middle.

merrick said...

John,

the rich nations 'absolute cuts' are not only far less than the science demands, they are using the get out of jail free card bullshit trick of carbon trading, which leads to imposing injustice on poor nations so the rich can carry on emitting a disproportionately high amount.

scaremongering about 'poor people in prosperous societies'

Do you find it that hard to envisage? It doesn't require imagination, just the ability to google the words "Hurricane Katrina".

Martin,

One is that most of what they make, they make for us in the West, so a lot of their industrial emissions aren't really theirs, but ours.

Absolutely, as I've recently said here.

It's about a third of their emissions that are from the manufacture of goods for export (and even the their per-capita emissions are half ours).