Monday, March 12, 2007

International Agreements are the only way to solve Global Warming

The clue lies in the word "Global" - it affects the entire planet, so only international agreements to sort it out will make a difference. Anyone who thinks they can make a global difference by simply punishing Brits has got rocks in their head.

The Labour government has already made some progress in assenting to such international agreements. The most important recent one was Britain's assent in December 2006 to a new EU directive on aviation. You can read the whole thing here, but the most important bit is the following:

The proposed directive will cover emissions from flights within the EU from 2011 and all flights to and from EU airports from 2012. Both EU and foreign aircraft operators would be covered. Like the industrial companies already covered by the EU ETS, airlines will be able to sell surplus allowances if they reduce their emissions and will need to buy additional allowances if their emissions grow

This is huge, because most of the major airlines on earth fly to Europe, which means that most of the airlines in the world will be part of the scheme. In one fell swoop this scheme deals with the problem of some countries free-riding on the green efforts of others. It creates a level playing field for all airlines, so there won't be any competitive disadvantage arising to European fleets. It's flexible in that it leaves it up to the airline to decide the most efficient way to meet the target, whether it is new fuel efficient planes or carbon-trading. Most importantly, because it covers the most of the planes on earth, it has a good chance of actually being effective.

The Americans are predictably cross and will fight to scupper this - but all the more reason for Brits to get behind this plan. Yet the press have been silent about it, so most Brits don't even know about it. Perhaps the plan is just too sensible to make good newspaper copy. I've started to notice that the only green issues that get covered are those that give the copy writers the chance to produce lurid headlines of the "Brits to be PUNISHED under new green initiative!" type. Anything sensible that looks like it will work without being punitive is ignored.

David Cameron's latest policies are punitive though. Given the above directive, why does he need to over-egg things by targeting flying even further? In an interview he said that it would pay for tax cuts for married people. Great, some middle-aged married couple with no children will find themselves subsidised by an unmarried couple with children who have the termerity to go on holiday!

And what's with the rationing? That went out in the 1940's. It's hard not to suspect that some Etonians are attracted to the idea of rationing for the poor, simply because they think the hoi polloi are getting uppity and going on holiday too much. But he'll need a massive ID database to keep track of it all.

No comments: