May 22, 2013

If climate change believers do not abandon their holier than thou attitude, climate skeptics will always win.

Martin Wolf writes about China that “Its leaders feel rightly, that there is no moral reason to accept a ceiling on the emissions allowed for each Chinese individual far lower that the level Americans insist upon for themselves”, “Climate skeptics have already won” May 22.

And of course, if the climate change challenge, instead of being placed in terms of a shared human responsibility, where even the poorest of the poor, as a human, has the right to feel the same responsibility as the rich, and this is instead phrased as an issue of quotas and fairness, which only divides, the climate skeptics will win… almost by walk-over.

Also, at least in the US, it is clear that the climate change challenge has been politically captured. It is almost as “if you are not a progressive-democrat, you have no right to be concerned with climate change” or “if you are concerned with the environment you have no right to be a conservative-republican”. Before climate change is freed from that sequestration, there is no chance of a united front, and again the climate skeptics win.

Wolf mentions eight possibilities to curb emissions and buy some time and I fully agree with all of them, most especially with the “go nuclear” one, our only bridge between now and when something better for the environment is found. That said I would like to make the following comments:

First, with respect carbon taxes it is important to be consistent and transparent. That little dirty trick used by some European countries of taxing gas-petrol to assist the environment, while at the same time giving out subsidies to coal, cannot be allowed.

Second, in finding the best way of financing for creating and saving energy I have often mentioned that if we can use credit ratings to determine the capital requirements for banks, something which for no purpose at all distorts , why do we not distort somewhat with a purpose and do the same based on sustainability ratings?

But, first and foremost, in terms of advancing on climate change issues, we really need to get rid of all those holier than thou attitudes, which instead of making us plant a tree, so often makes us feel like going out and chopping one down.