Graun: How do we rein in the fossil fuel industry? Here are eight ideas

MVIMG_20190808_074817 Or, a random bunch of journos try to save the world. Are they journos? Who knows. Anyway, at least they're trying. What do they have to say? The subhead is Individual action alone won’t solve the climate crisis. So what political changes might help? IMO this is a bad start. Yes it is true that we need "bulk action" but bulk action is made of many individual actions. No one individual can solve the problem, but leading off with the negative is poor; at the core, the problem is an amalgam of individual choices. Similarly, the headline is poor. But let's go through the eight ideas.

Put climate on the ballot paper

Politicians need to feel this is a priority for the electorate. That means keeping the subject high on the agenda for MPs with questions, protests, emails, social media posts, lobbying by NGOs and most of all through voting choices. Not unreasonable. Doesn't discuss the problem that "put climate on the ballot paper" is itself rather tricky, at least in the UK.

End fossil fuel subsidies

The coal, oil and gas industries benefit from $5tn dollars a year... this is the same "it depends what you mean by subsidy" mistake that people keep making. And of course it isn't the case that the Evil Fossil Fuel industry gets all or even most of these subsidies: most of them go to the consumers. Who also bear most of the costs, so it actually makes little sense to call them subsidies (no, most of the costs aren't GW). See IMF working paper 2019: Global Fossil Fuel Subsidies Remain Large: An Update Based on Country-Level Estimates etc. But then The UN secretary general, António Guterres, attacked the incentives in May, saying: “What we are doing is using taxpayers’ money … to destroy the world.” is then rather confusing, because there are no actual "hand outs" from the bulk of these "subsidies". The Graun wants the problem fixed, but fixed-with-pork, meaning not fixed: Cuts in fuel subsidies should not be used as an austerity measure that hurts the poor most.

Put a price on carbon

Ah well done you've got there; they even mange the EU’s scheme has been widely criticised... Carbon taxes don’t have to create economic losers, either – revenue neutral taxes redistribute the money to the people and are advocated by many.

Scale back demand for fossil fuels

Again, well done: Oil companies will sell oil for as long as there are buyers. I dislike the later ref to "social licence" which I think is inventing new rules, but never mind. All companies are responsive to economic pressure, however - bloody hell, has someone been letting economics leak into the Graun? The only way to cut emissions from oil in the long term is to stop using oil. Reducing demand is driven by government regulation and by technological development (also driven by regulation)... - ah, no, the Graun's econ only goes so far before they fall back on the unthinking and reflexive solution to all problems: moah regulation.

Stop flaring... Roll out large scale carbon capture and storage

I think they're running out of ideas now; flaring maybe needs to be addresses but I doubt in the large-scale view it matters much. CCS is not ready for the big time and quite likely never will be. But don't forget to notice the passing drivel: Oil companies have the expertise to roll out CCS... remove CO2 from the atmosphere by growing trees and plants, burning them for electricity, then sequestering the emissions. Everything has to be the fault of the Evil Fossil Fuel companies, in this case it's their fault for not doing CCS. But EFFC have fuck all expertise in growing and harvesting plants, or burning things to generate leccie... why is the Graun incapable of writing about GW without veering off the rails into madness?

Halt investment in fossil fuels

A popular idea, but the Graun is forgetting the market. People will stop investing in FF if they expect poor or risky returns, and not otherwise.

Establish market metrics on climate change

Nearly three years after the Paris agreement, world markets still have no mandatory, comparable data to measure the risks posed by the climate crisis at a company level. Again, I think this is stupid: large-scale investment is perfectly capable of seeing these risks if it wants to; wasting a pile of bureaucracy on mandatory reporting is just more regs for the sake of propping up and creating pork in the regulatory sector.


Russell said...

"Individual action alone won’t solve the climate crisis. So what political changes might help?"

Better ask the editorial collective:


izen said...

"Yes it is true that we need "bulk action" but bulk action is made of many individual actions. No one individual can solve the problem, ... at the core, the problem is an amalgam of individual choices."

The amalgam of individual actions emerges from the imposition of collective action.
Consider the increasing rate of literacy in western society. It was not the result of individual choice, but the provision of free schooling by the State.
Or a less beneficial example, the rise in the problem of obesity in 'affluent' societies coincides with increasing inequality and the dominance of large-scale agri-business in providing cheap sugar and fats as the more profitable option.

David B. Benson said...

William, they know what you are about:

William M. Connolley said...

> coincides with

Everyone knows that correlation is not causation when it suits their argument, but forgets it otherwise...

> https://m.techxplore.com/news/2019-10-spy-chip-easy-tough.html

Fortunately not wirelessly. This sounds like it is possible in theory, but the argument that "no-one checks" is I think false: security researcher type people will indeed check, because if you genuinely found one in the wild you'd make your reputation.