Tuesday, February 28, 2006

UK tactics, US brass tacs, French tax

Like some others, I was beginning to wonder what had happened to the British NGO coalition Stop Climate Chaos since its launch some months ago. But tomorrow's event (news of which is embargoed until midnight tonight, but which builds on this meeting today with Blair and co) looks like it could make some waves.

SCC's goal - a 3% year on year reduction in UK emissions - is continuous with Friends of the Earth's Big Ask last year. What prospect of meeting it?

It's conceivable, but unlikely, that the UK government will deliver on home energy efficiency. Harder to see where the political will come from to adequately address aviation. George Monbiot makes some helpful points here, but for once is less radical than I was in a 9 Jan piece which probably over-telescopes the plausible time scale:
"The billion or so of us who are already rich consumers have the choice to reduce the emissions from our lifestyles by 50 to 90% within a year or two with no compromise in lifestyle and in many cases with considerable improvement – with the very significant exception of the addiction of many of us to air travel".
One issue for SCC and its allies could be that they become a coalition of the willing - a choir that feels good singing together - that does not impress those outside the tent/church who are not amenable to exhortation and whose economic and political power cannot be overcome by confrontation or fiat, at least in the next ten years or so.

Some intiatives in the United States such as the Energy Future Coalition may have less ambitious goals but they do seem to line up more players - including labor, business and farming...at least for now. Better to promise less and deliver?

Another contrast to British efforts is the edict by Chirac to put a tax on flights (even if didn't start that way, it now has that top down imprimatur). If this goes ahead it may raise substantial revenues for development. But is the French tax intended to progressively curb demand for flights (increasing in size as number of flights diminishes?). I doubt it, but am glad to be corrected.

Also, let's not forget a European context in which the major gas supplier wants to reverse not only Gorbachev but Khrushchev.

No comments: