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« Is there an environment conference on the way? | Main | Behind the scenes at Skeptical Science »

Politicians are the problem

In an announcement that is somewhat reminiscent of the Soviet Union, leaders of the opposition parties in Scotland have united in their backing for the ruling SNP's policy on climate:

The leaders of Scotland's political parties have united to reaffirm their commitment to tackling climate change and cutting emissions.

First Minister Alex Salmond, Labour's Johann Lamont, Tory leader Ruth Davidson and Willie Rennie of the Lib Dems have pledged to help meet targets.

Holyrood has passed legislation committing Scotland to a 42% cut in emissions from 1990 levels by 2020.

It is also committed to a reduction of 80% by 2050.

I would have thought a 42% reduction in votes for their parties by 2020 and an 80% reduction by 2050 would be a suitable response.

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Reader Comments (67)

Mar 25, 2012 at 2:40 PM | bob

“Setting an example is important.”

No, it’s not – it might, just possibly, have seemed important a few years ago. But the Copenhagen conference in 2009 finally put paid to that: emphasising that the overriding priority of the so-called developing economies was – surprise – economic development. China, for example, has become the second most powerful economy in the world and, in the process, has raised over 300,000 people out of poverty in the past 30 years. All this is the result of the availability of cheap energy – largely from burning increasing amounts of coal. China’s continuing success and, in particular, its guarantee of internal security depend on the continuation of that policy. It cannot afford to change course – nor will it. An extract from an Economist report:

The IEA estimates that China, which generates more than 70% of its electricity with coal, will build 600 gigawatts (GW) of coal-fired power capacity in the next quarter-century—as much as is currently generated with coal in America, Japan and the European Union put together. Nomura, a Japanese bank, thinks that may be an underestimate. It reckons China will add some 500GW of coal-fired power by as early as 2015, and will more than double its current generating capacity by 2020.

And it’s not just China: see this. An extract:

… over the past decade, Vietnam's carbon dioxide emissions grew by 136%. And Vietnam's explosive growth looks like it will continue for years to come. Indeed, the country … stands as a proxy for many of the countries in the developing world. And as those countries grow their economies, their energy use, and their carbon dioxide emissions, the hope for any hard cap – or tax – on carbon becomes ever more remote.

There isn’t any possibility that these countries will take any notice of our pathetic example. This chart will give you some idea of how puny we are. (Hint: we’re the little grey line bumping along the bottom.)

Mar 25, 2012 at 7:15 PM | Registered CommenterRobin Guenier

They will take notice because the science about the risks of increasing CO2 level will continue to be injected into UN processes and that will help keep up the pressure on all countries to address about the problem.

And when they see countries like the UK can reduce carbon emissions significantly while maintaining high standards of living that will be one less excuse they can use.

Mar 25, 2012 at 7:39 PM | Unregistered Commenterbob

The trouble is m'Lord Bishop, that, when every political party is acquiring its idiots from the same village, you are right that all parties deserve to see their share of the vote decrease, but there is no-one else filling the vacuum. The SNP may still be winning elections in 2050 on a turn-out of 20%.

The situation in Australia is fundamentally different, in that the Liberals there, who are mostly nothing like Chris Huhne and Vince Cable, will soon be in power and will cancel the Labor (sic) carbon tax. In Britain, there isn't even a paper's width of difference between muppets like Ed Davey, Greg Barker and Captain Adenoids himself, Ed Miliband.

Here, the village idiots have taken over the village.

Mar 25, 2012 at 7:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterOwen Morgan

Curmudgeon is right that UKIP doesn't have much resonance in Scotland - or at least not yet,
but if you don't like what the others are doing don't just spoil your ballot paper or refuse to vote at all.

Rather do something positive. Go out and vote for UKIP anyway. At least you will have registered your opinion and encouraged others to do the same next time. If you don't have a candidate to vote for, write to UKIP and offer to stand or go canvassing somewhere else where there is a candidate.

Why have a democracy if you don't take the trouble to use it.

Mar 25, 2012 at 8:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterDaveW

I vote in France and the choice is very limited but Hollande will not get my vote because he has done a deal with the greens, remind you of someone, in an attempt to gain power. Part of the deal is that he must close 18 nuclear power stations. That would be hilarious if it didn't affect the rest of France because Germany have shut theirs down, the suisse are following and the only other fioul in europe is coal and those power station all have to close by 2015 because of the commissars in brussells.

So, the european economy, including britain's, will be in ruins by 2020 and there is absolutely nothing the citoyens can do about it. The EU is a dictatorship. No elections allowed.

Mar 25, 2012 at 8:44 PM | Unregistered Commenterstephen richards

Has there ever been a madness on this scale before? The harm has not been as great yet as the hideous conflicts and repressions of leftwing regimes of the 20th century, but surely it is just a matter of time. The bio-fuels fiasco is an indicator of the irrationality, or worse, of the deliberate malevolence of the new, and rampant, greened leftwing. The monumentally stupid Climate Change Act and the consequent follies will produce loss in terms of premature deaths and of lost opportunties for better developments in the UK, but internationally the view is even less appealing. The poisoning of international relations through this new vehicle of facile blame and grievance against 'the west' is at an early stage, but the parallet self-destructiveness (of morale and spirit as well as of the economies) of previously more 'advanced' nations and the dramatic growth of China and other countries untrammeled with the CO2 Panic, does not look to me to be an ideal combination.

And as we who frequent this site know, the intellectual case for all of this is a house of cards, one which falls at each and every informed debate. The foundations are feeble, the structures are rotten, but it seems it impresses the political classes out of their wits, and not just in Scotland.

The election in Australia, if it is truly a reflection of popular disgust at foolish and destructive 'eco-policies' holds out some hope. But Scotland, poor Scotland, seems intent on crippling itself along Californian lines in a smug miasma of superficial science, slick PR, and the pervasive influence of a new and especially odious 'unco guid'.

Altogether astonishing.

Mar 25, 2012 at 9:02 PM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade

Has there ever been a madness on this scale before?

Mar 25, 2012 at 9:02 PM | John Shade

Wonder how it ranks against 2 world wars in 2 generations. Can't be much different in effect on economy.

European experiment in Political integration with main purpose to stop a 3rd European war in the 20th century ends up causing the destruction of European economy.

Mar 25, 2012 at 9:22 PM | Registered CommenterBreath of Fresh Air

Mar 25, 2012 at 7:39 PM | bob

The “science about risks of increasing CO2 level” have been “injected into UN processes” for many years. Yet, apart from a few EU countries and Australia, fewer countries than ever are taking notice. There is no reason at all why China in particular would give up its economic preeminence and put its internal security at risk by taking action to “combat” what they see as an uncertain risk – see this. An extract:

… Mr Xie, China's vice-chairman of national development and reforms commission, later said although mainstream scientific opinion blames emissions from industrial development for climate change, China is not convinced.

"There are disputes in the scientific community. We have to have an open attitude to the scientific research. There's an alternative view that climate change is caused by cyclical trends in nature itself. We have to keep an open attitude," he said.

And here’s India’s view:

… for developing countries like India, carbon dioxide emissions are now a necessary part of growth and development. In this context, it has to be treated as the utilisation of the global ‘carbon space’ available in the atmosphere. It is evident that every nation’s fair share of carbon space is proportionate to its share of global population.

As for your idea that these countries will somehow see the light when the results of our (absurd) experiment with emission reduction are available, you’re living in dreamland.

Mar 25, 2012 at 10:16 PM | Registered CommenterRobin Guenier

Bob said "They will take notice because....." they will see what a disaster the Green movements' obsession with CO2 has been for Western Europe and they will simply decide to ignore AGW except to the degree that money can be syphoned from Western tax payers. Interestingly, the economically suicidal green taxes would not work in most emerging economies as not having a Western legal system or taxation gathering system they "the governments" will not be able to saddle their peoples with excessive and punitive taxation and if the Carbon "dioxide" taxes were enacted a substantial part of developing countries economies, the so-called grey and black economies, would not be subject to them.
As a foot note the Australian Labor Party has been decimated in its electoral heart-land of Queensland and will not even qualify for "official party" government largesse so few are its remaining seats in the State.

The Greens lost all their seats.

Gillard lied to the people and it is likely the federal Laborites will suffer the same fate. Go on you beauties. Finally the Aussies wake up, but will they open their eyes?.

Mar 25, 2012 at 10:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterNicanuk

The tide is going out for the alarmists, but the political class is so focused on looking upwards to the next layer of management (the UN, EU etc) that they don't seem to notice that the masses are less and less supportive.

The masses, when they look upwards, just see a bunch of a***holes.

In Australia, the carbon tax has paradoxically been a good thing because it has nailed down the coffin of the government that introduced it. The government-to-be (barring catastrophe) has vowed to repeal it. If repeal is blocked in the Senate by the minor parties, it will dissolve both Houses and go to an election on the issue. At present, they are at least ten points ahead in the polls. All the pundits predicted that their stance was suicidal. Ha!

What the idiot politicians in other places who have caved in don't seem to realise is that, if they had the guts to stand up for themselves and the people they are supposed to represent, the electoral rewards would look after themselves.

Mar 26, 2012 at 5:26 AM | Unregistered Commenterjohanna

On the question "has there ever been a madness on this scale before", I suggest that the closest parallel is that of the cattle-killing movement by the Xhosas in South Africa, in 1856. Google it, also the name "Nongqawuse". You may find the comparison relevant.

Mar 26, 2012 at 8:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterPeter B

John Shade

What an excellent comment above- how about sending it to your MP and MSP? If you got answers, it would be really interesting to see their responses.

Mar 26, 2012 at 9:52 AM | Unregistered CommenterMessenger

Unless I'm mistaken Alex Salmond is under the illusion that 'renewables' - that's basically wind to you and me - will power Scotland, once all the other forms of power generation have been shut down to 'save' CO2.
Well - as I write, wind is providing 0.5% of the UK's electricity demand - and it looks set to stay that way for the rest of the week.
He is, to quote that wonderful Scottish expression, 'Awa' with the faeries...'...

Mar 26, 2012 at 1:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid

@ bob

The problem you have, bob, is that nobody has shown a correlation between atmospheric CO2 and human CO2 emissions, and over the last 15 years we've also seen the collapse of the supposed correlation between the latter and global temperature. Nobody has demonstrated any ability to predict any of these factors over a meaningful timescale either. What's the cost of coal going to be in 100 years' time, for example? How about this time next year? Or next week? You have no idea and nor does anyone else.

Thus your problem is that nobody who matters believes a CO2 problem exists and those who do buy the idea of rising CO2 don't see it as a problem. If you think the Chinese are going to wreck their economy because of what a load of middle-aged pony-tailed hippies think, well, dream on. It was Chou En Lai who commented in 1968 that it was "too soon to say" what the significance of the French Revolution was. Even if that claim is apocryphal the broader point is valid, which is that China is not about to jump to the bidding of the BBC.

Mar 26, 2012 at 2:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterJustice4Rinka

@ John Shade The harm has not been as great yet as the hideous conflicts and repressions of leftwing regimes of the 20th century, but surely it is just a matter of time.

I think clear parallels are emerging with the state-instigated Ukrainian famine of 1932-3, which seems to have arisen largely because of the forced collectivisation of farming and the consequent collapse in farm yields.

Something similar seems to be planned for about 10 years' time, presumably to afford a pretext for the reintroduction of fuel rationing and for even higher taxes. I used to think this was all about the bankrupting of Putin's Russia, in the same way that $6 oil defeated the USSR in the 1980s, but I think the enemy this time is us.

On the tax point, state share of GDP in the UK (> 50%) is now more like that of Cuba (<60%) than that of what we would think of as capitalist economies (eg USA - ~38%).

It seems fairly clear that there is a whole range of issues on which the main parties have all agreed to agree, to ensure that there is no means of opposing them even though most voters do. Climate change, selective education, inheritance tax, immigration, EU membership, capital punishment, law and order - there is no electoral choice on offer in respect of any of these, even though the political class's view on them is in most cases about 180 degrees opposed to that of the proles.

This is what is called the post-democratic era, I gather.

Mar 26, 2012 at 2:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterJustice4Rinka

Can't seem to find any coverage of the Queensland elections on the BBC website. I wonder why?


Mar 26, 2012 at 7:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterSteve Jones


Please return to the hostel and call your social worker immediately.

Mar 26, 2012 at 9:43 PM | Registered CommenterJane Coles

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