The same month brought confirmation of worse-than-expected upward trends in worldwide greenhouse gas emissions, and new research suggesting that the threat posed by even small rises in global mean temperature is greater than previously thought.More
One wonders if there is a hint of irony in JP Morgan's footnote: 'while JP Morgan considers this data to be reliable, we cannot gaurantee its accurancy or completeness'.
Thanks for that JP.More
Well it would be if the very foundations of our emissions monitoring weren't based on voodoo accounting that 'carbon launder' the emissions from economies like the UK and the USA.
Under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) emissions monitoring guidelines, wealthier nations systematically underestimate their carbon emissions, while poorer countries systematically overestimate their emissions. This is because the UNFCCC requires emissions to be reported from a production-based perspective. In other words, only emissions associated with domestic emissions and exports are counted, while those associated with imports are washed from the national accounts. Because this method does not take into account 'embodied carbon' of imports; the consumer of the product takes no responsibility for the greenhouse gas emissions associated with its production.
The UK's consumption levels have risen steadily. And, as our major retailers scour the world for the cheapest production costs, the emissions that we are actually responsible for, have not only risen in line with our additional consumption - our consumption is proportionally more carbon intensive. This is because how much carbon that is in the energy mix (carbon intensity of energy) tends to be lower in developed nations and higher in developing nations. For example, the carbon intensity of energy in India is 20 per cent higher than the UK. This means a policy decision to monitor emissions based on production is more likely to result in an increase in emissions rather than a decrease - as production is driven up in nations with an energy mix that is more dependent on fossil fuels.
Today, if everyone consumed as much as the average UK citizen, we would need more than three planets like Earth to support us. In order to live within our overall environmental means, and to enable all of the world's population to meet their basic needs, the UK will have to dramatically reduce the burden our high-consuming lifestyles place on the ecosystem. In effect - we have to take steps to reduce our 'ecological debt' - the burden our high-consuming lifestyles have placed, and continue to place on the rest of the planet.
The "call to prayer" of conventional economics has been the incantation of economic growth figures: the accumulated monetary value of all the exchanges that take place in the economy. When it heads south, the system knows it has a problem.
Now, it has a real problem. Global economic growth is at its lowest level since shortly after the second world war, and the UK economy is shrinking fastest.
But here's the problem. The fact that so much went so wrong, so quickly says that the long period of preceding growth hid a deep malaise. Growth conceals more than it reveals. It is about as informative as saying that when it rains things get wet. Yet the indicator retains an unbreakable grip on the imaginations of politicians and policymakers. Over 30 years of critique from the few dissident economists and environmentalists have not shifted its privileged position.
Growth tells us if things are happening, but not whether they are good or bad. Growth can be boosted by war, pollution and all kinds of social breakdown, from divorce to ill health and vandalism. That's because they all require money to be spent, which shows up in the growth figures. This matters right now because the government is spending money simply to reboot growth, rather than to achieve particular, desirable outcomes, like creating green jobs to rebuild energy security, and tackle fuel poverty and climate change. It needs to get smart.
All of it good. All of it heart warming and affirming. But there was something else which lightened up last week, something less obvious but even more subtantial than enjoying each others company.
People started relying on the local.
They couldn't do anything else. It was most pronounced in the rural areas but it happened in the towns too. The snow brought with it the mantras of new economics - sharing of skills, time banking, local reliance, small scale acts of collaboration - to make the whole continue to function.More
Britain's welfare state can't cope with three great dangers that face us today - deepening social divisions, accelerating climate change and imploding financial systems. William Beveridge said of 1942, when he launched his founding report, that it was a "revolutionary moment in the world's history, a time for revolutions, not for patching". The same is true today, but the challenges are new. More
Many of them, like the new Westfield shopping centre that now dominates Shepherd's Bush, are now busily moving round retail business that existed before, draining existing centres and smaller shops in particular. Other new supermarkets, so excessive in their provision in the past decade, are now draining nearby high streets - making local economies and their populations more dependent and more vulnerable to global recession than they were before.More