Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Climate Change: Missing the Point

For those who think, like Ken Livingstone, that slapping a £25 congestion onto Ford Mondeos is a good thing and will save the planet, I have news for them. Frankly, it doesn't really matter what we do in this country on global emissions if we can't persuade India and China to follow suit. Take this piece from The Economist...

Over the next few decades, one of the main determinants of increased oil demand will be higher car ownership in emerging economies. At present there are only two cars for every 100 people in China, against 50 in America. Goldman Sachs forecasts that China's car ownership will rise to 29 per 100 by 2040. The total number of cars in China and India combined could rise from around 30m today to 750m by 2040 (see chart 10)—more than all the cars on the world's roads today. Even so, car-ownership rates in those two countries would still be only half those in America today.

Many people worry more about the environmental damage resulting from emerging countries' rising energy demand than they do about rising prices. Rapid industrialisation has already caused an alarming increase in emissions of greenhouse gases and air pollution. China has 16 of the world's 20 most air-polluted cities. America is still the world's largest spewer of carbon emissions, but China is expected to overtake it within a decade or so. A report by Zmarak Shalizi, an economist at the World Bank, forecasts that on current policies carbon emissions in China and India will more than double by 2020—though that would still leave China's carbon emissions per person at only one-third of the current level in America.

So our efforts on climate change are misdirected. What we should be doing is convincing India and China that they will be the main part of the problem within half a generation, and then persuade (or even help) them to take the requisite action. We can all have windmills on our roofs and install solar panels, but if Indians and the Chinese do not cut their emissions too we might as well save ourselves the bother.


Unknown said...

Of course this proposed £25 charge has got nothing to do with congestion or pollution but is all about the politics of envy - i.e. taxing the rich. This will simply make it very expensive for anyone in the Zone - shortly to include Kensington & Chelsea - to drive a nice car, not just a 4x4. It will also make it very difficult for families to live in the Zone as most decent sized cars will be affected (see the latest post on my blog!). We really need to get rid of Livingstone...

Anonymous said...

But we need to lead by example otherwise they'll just shout hippocrite at us and not listen. If we get our country in order and develop the sustainable energy side then they are more likely to listen.
Small windmills aren;t the answer, they can help but slowing down our want for energy would do more.
From the BBC "The daily charge for vehicles in carbon emissions band G, which includes some 4x4s, is to rise to £25 from 2009." So yes if a Mondeo falls into band G, which I doubt they do, then they will get whacked with a greater charge.

Anonymous said...

I'm particularly cross about this as my Audi S3 emits 226 G/KM, putting it just into band G, and therefore attracting the £25 charge.

I don't drive into London regularly - I spend about £3k a year on rail fares in and out - but, like millions of other motorists, often have no choice; such as when the trains aren't working, or I'm transporting heavy kit around, or I have my disabled friend with me, or elderly relatives, or... well, the list goes on. I'd say probably 10 - 15 times a year. Given this frequency I could just about stomach £8.

But now it'll be £25. So, Ken, what am I supposed to do? Replace my car? Are you going to pay for me to get a new one before my lease is up, penalties and all?

What I find particularly galling is that it's often older cars that have higher CO2 emissions - the new S3, for example, falls into band F. So basically, I'm being taxed for not being as rich as Ken and therefore having a three year old car. "That's a nice silk tie you've got on, there, comrade!"

I do hope the Tories manage to get a decent mayoral candidate lined up so we can waste this horrible little newt once and for all.

Anonymous said...

Livingstone’s plan isn’t really about pollution any more than the congestion charge was about congestion. After introducing the C charge he ensured that any reduction in congestion levels caused by the reduction of vehicles would be negated by deliberately building in congestion by narrowing roads, the infamous rephrasing of traffic lights and the creation of unnecessary bus lanes.
Similarly the extension of the zone to Chelsea and Kensington. This area doesn’t suffer unduly from congestion, unlike south of the river. However, few people in C&K vote for Ken, whereas many south of the river do. He therefore extends the zone to where his political opponents live. This is an affluent area, so the cars used are more affluent and surprise surprise more will fall into the highest bracket for his latest anti car scheme. Meanwhile the misery for drivers south of the river continues, congestion deliberately increased by TFL’s (Thieves for Livingstone) roadworks.
Ken doesn’t care about pollution or congestion. What he cares about is adversely affecting the standard of living of those who oppose him.

Anonymous said...

Ed these details are important.
From the BBC again.
"Band G cars will pay more from 2009"
So you have over 2 years to replace your car.
"only relates to cars registered after 23 March 2006"
So your car should be fine if you choose not to renew it.

Anonymous said...

oh dear Iain. Sure this is money grabbing by Mad Ken. But climate change is it all the foreigners fault? Its not really A list stuff is it. Hope your not getting too star struck by M.Farage!

Anonymous said...

ed-'I could just about stomach £8' - but that is the point.

At that level you are not changing your decision to take the car. Ken's point is that the charge has to be at a level where people change their behaviour. £25 is a lot of money - but that is simply a function of the amount of money which needs to be levied to get people to un-weld themselves to the motor car. Or put another way, it is just a demonstration of how addicted to cars most people are.

I take your point about disabled / elderly people - but surely a 'blue badge' exemption could be employed for those exceptions.

Anonymous said...

Well said, Mr Dale - I agree.

As for Tom, China and India are not waiting for us to set an 'example' - they have their own plans which do not involve following us in any shape or form. Why do they care what we do?

The Livingstone contribution to climate improvement is a charade - keeping a few 4x4s out of London is nothing compared, for example with the transatlantic air flights etc for a taxpayer-funded junket in Cuba costing £35,000. That's hypocrisy for you.

Anonymous said...

Hmm, Ken Livingstone and a demagogic policy, well I never!

The current £8 for the charge is nothing, it costs me more in the morning to buy a travelcard to use public transport. Only when the charge hits £20 or more will it bite. And Ed, if it's too much, sell your sporty car for something more efficient, you don't need all that expensive performance to sit in a traffic jam do you?

Iain Dale said...

Tom, a 2.0litre Mondeo automatic does indeed come into this category. It's not just 4x4s - it is normal family cars like the Citreon X8 too.

Anonymous said...

I utterly agree with Nick. None of these charges are about reducing pollution or congestion but are about collecting more revenue from the type of people Ken dislikes in order for him to continue going on pointless jollies to places like cuba (how much pollution did that cause?)

If he really wanted people to use public transport more than prices for the use of buses and tubes would be falling rather than rapidly rising

Mind you - its not as if public transport is a better option. Apparently, at the end of 2005, London's bus fleet was fitted with particulate traps at a cost of £30 million. The traps however, due to a chemical reaction, caused 5 times as much of the toxin, nitrogen dioxide, to be pumped into London's air (the trend for all other air-borne toxins is downwards)

It will cost Londoners another £24 million to re-fit the buses

Andrew Ian Dodge said...

Climate Change is just the latest excuse for the left to bash the rich and stick it to capitalism. Ken is just doing his bit against the rich.

I look forward to the seeing the lawsuit against Ken after a family is wiped out by an accident while driving their tiny tin-can in London. Larger cars are safer for the occupants something that the left don't seem to care about.

Anonymous said...

As Ian states
"What we should be doing is convincing India and China that they will be the main part of the problem within half a generation, and then persuade (or even help) them to take the requisite action."

They won't listen to anything if we don't do our bit to sort out the same issues here. Yes it won't make a dent in the problem but it might help influence others later.

Apologies yes the Auto does come into it but they aren't exactly a million seller like the manual is.
There are plenty of family size cars out there, including people carriers, that will come in under the 225 limit. SO if your in London and planning on buying a car this new charge should influence what car you buy. Where's the problem? The only problem I see with this is backdating it to March this year. Unless these plans have been public knowledge since then.

Anonymous said...

Livingstone is a liar, always has been.

I can't wait for all the idiots who probably go on about 4x4 when they realize that they are in it too ! Now that wil be fun.

The thing is that emissions are caused by a minority of cars, not necessarily the old ones which are usually better maintained or used less often. Not only that but they save the energy of building a new car.

Which is why the comment of having time to get a new car is stupid to the extreme.

Anonymous said...

What a joy to hear all those Kensington-types squealing. As for your nihilistic approach Iain Dale, says it all. We can't do everything so let's do nothing and blame it on people with a different coloured skin. Yeah, probably asylum seekers as well. And gays. And single mums. And people who watch Channel 4. Oh, is that Mr Dacre from the Daily Mail on the line ...

Man in a Shed said...

The Economist is trying to give a sense of proportion. The truth is that all we can do is slow down CO2 emmission and maybe global warming - slightly - at great expense. The opportunity cost of doing something worth while with that money will be lost.

We should building flood defences and grain silos - else the price for our politicians posturing will not just be the extra tax and waste they are planning.

If it was as bad as most everyone is saying then we would now be ordering 20 Nuclear power stations and planning permission would be rushed through as a national emergency. Instead we are playing politics and flying Ken Livingston back and forwards over the Atlantic.

Oh and the "lets set an example" argument is suicidally naive in the current world. The lets influence people approach works so well on Iran, North Korea, Zimbabwe doesn't it. You can't even rely on the European Union countries to act with agreements and against their national interests ( France, Italy - even Germany spring to mind ).

Curly said...

Meanwhile we have the Environment Secretary out in Kenya trying to solve the problems of world carbon emissions, whilst exhorting his new "friend" the Chancellor to tax family cars virtually out of existence. Livingstone's charges won't affect Miliband because (he claims) he walks faster than most public transport in London.
He would have us all walking or cycle in areas outside of the captital if he had his way, then the roads would be free for him to use petrol driven transport at his whim!

The Hitch said...

Heres an idea
we just abolish the office of mayor?
London worked fairly well without one.
Like all new labour ideas its shit in concept and shit in practice.
Ad lets have an end to all this climate change orthodoxy , its non proven.

neil craig said...

Glad to see you making the point that going it alone is llony. I was a little worried by this kite flown by the that pusher of all things PC the Independent.
If the Tories were to join with the Lib Dems & Meacherites to enshrine the Stern targets in law they might well achieve a victory over the government but in years to come would find themselves tied to massive tax rises & Labour able to disavow any responsibility.

Anonymous said...

Livingstone ain't going to be satisfied until everyone is forced to ride to and from work on horses. The man is a hypocritical lying scumbag - in my carefully considered view. His public transport policy is an abject failure, so he's seeking to clear the streets of all traffic to allow his useless buses free reign. Meanwhile the Underground system continues to collapse.

Obviously the USA, China and India are the main culprits as far as CO2 production is concerned - followed closely by the UK and some others. So Blair can pontificate to his heart's content. None of these countries are going to pay a blind bit of attention to his prattling. He won't be around to deal with the consequences anyway.

The current move towards 'new technology' to reduce CO2 emissions is crass. There are plenty of things which can be done and which do not actually require 'new technology'. This is all about ramping up demand for industry to capitalise on. Take a look at who is offering 'free advice' on these issues to Blair.

Anonymous said...

That Economist report is out of date already. China has recognised that a clean sustainable economy is the only way forward which is why they are investing heavily (much more so than Western democracies) in carbon capture technology and renewable energy. Time to stop blaming developing economies and put our own house in order since we are responsible for the onset of climate change with our efforts to kick-start the Industrial Revolution!

Anonymous said...

I agree with the sceptics on this one. Even if climate change is happening, man-made and undesirable (and personally I've been greatly enjoying the milder winters we've been having) there is nothing we can do about it, so we should do precisely that. As a former superpower, and still a great power, we are not used to the idea that we can't really influence any world issue, but this is one where we should let the big boys handle it between them. We should concentrate our strictly limited resources on areas where we can do some good, like Bosnia or Sierra Leone or global trade talks.

Anonymous said...

Why not concentrate on turning off the pollution/congestion tap at its source?

Recent figures have suggested that the population of the UK will rise beyond 60 million within the next 10 years, driven largely by immigration. More people means more cars, more energy consumption, more breathing - all adding to the supposed CO2 menace.

Why doesn't someone make it clear that the elimination of congestion and the achievement of Britain's Kyoto obligations can only be achieved by limiting or even reducing the population accordingly?

The fact that we hear nothing at all about the need to stabilise our population tells us all we need to know about the quality of our political servants.

Anonymous said...

I've been saying this for 10 years. Of course it' not fashionable to say this , so people ignore the facts.

The UK ability is just a drop in the ocean - much more pollution will be stopped by boycotting these countries. But that's not fashionable - some people are so shallow.

Anonymous said...

So, the total number of cars in China and India combined could rise from around 30m today to 750m by 2040 - more than all the cars on the world's roads today.

All running on fairy dust, presumably? There won't be much affordable petrol around in 35 years time.

Philipa said...

I think Peter Hitchens makes an excellent point: "we just abolish the office of mayor" and then, to carry on Bliars legacy we adopt Hitchens' love of nuclear power and weaponry and just F----- nuke China and India. That'll teach 'em. God we're so civilised.

The Hitch said...

Do I detect a hint of Irony in your comment? If not Where do I suggest that we should "nuke" other countries?
Nowhere, I suggest that you have, like many of your kind, a mind addled by drugs pornographic television and marxist theory that clearly has left you unable to discern fact from fantasy.

MorrisOx said...

Little efforts may seem like p***ing in the wind and there's little doubt that it's the usual 'soak the rich' gesture politics on Citizen Ken's part. However, in this case every little counts and if we don't bother why will China?

With respect, Iain, I think most people miss the point. As a few have already realised, the real opportunity is for businesses with products or services that replace or reduce your dependancy on carbon-based consumption.

If China continus to develop at the rate it has been doing then it could be our only source of competitive advantage.

Anonymous said...

That's a bit like saying, there'#s no point in banning capital punishment if they execute murderers in China. At one level, what we legislate for here doesn't affect what happens in China, but we can at least control what we do within our borders. At the same time we need to speak to other countries about the mutual benefits of preventing damage to the environment.

Anonymous said...

lylbsThe triumph of Kyoto:

All developing countries are excluded from limiting CO2. That means not just all of Africa and South America, but also India and China, etc., as well as most of the rest of Asia.

Some say China's CO2 output will exceed the US's in a couple of years, some say 10 years. It does not matter too much. Add in the rest of the excepted world and that's already at 50% of total CO2 output.

Add in US and Australia (both not in Kyoto) and we are already at 80% of the world's man-made CO2 'Kyoto excempt'.

So who's doing the limiting. Well, Europe, Canada and Japan are basically all who have signed up.

Out of these, only three countries are going to met the Kyoto targets. They are:

* Japan, entirely due to a severe recession, just lifting-- and CO2 climbing again now.

* Germany, entirely due to closing down the prodigiously ineffiecent--and filthy--industries in former East Germany. CO2 output is now starting to rise again as this phase is ended and the economy picks up.

* Britain, entirely due to the closing down of coal-powered electrical generation and replacing it with gas-fired plants. British CO2 output will start to rise now as the coal-to-gas change is complete and nuclear plants start to close down.

Therefore, it is abundantly clear, in each of these three 'good' countries, that the Kyoto targets would more or less have been met anyway even is Kyoto or the global warming scare had not happened, and they will soon be swept to one side, like everywhere else.

Also, here in the UK, the petrol 'strike' a few years back demonstrated that there is a very strict limit to how far a government dare push 'green taxes' before us worms turn. In actual fact there is no evidence that such petrol tax rises as were supposedly made to limit CO2 made a blind bit of difference to the amount of driving done. I'd suggest there is a very simple rule of thumb: to raise 'green' taxes high enough to affect behaviour will not improve the environment, but instead will lead to a revolt against those who raise the taxes.

The perfectly obvious conclusion from all this is that whatever fine words may be agreed to in international treaties or be incorporated in Queen's Speeches will not make a blind bit of difference to CO2 output; it's all just hot air (how appropriate) to give cover for however much more tax can be raised before the taxpayers revolt.

That's the nearest we're likely to get to 'setting an example': showing you can't change human nature, and so forget trying to. (A lesson already learned in China in the shape of abandoning socialism for capitalism, by the way. Maybe we should try that too.)

Mind you, anyone who thinks China and the like would pay the least attention to our 'example', even if it worked, must be living on some other plant: mostly, the people of China hardly know we even exist.


That's the depressing news. The good news is that the whole man-made global warming is b*llsh*t, and CO2 is not a pollutant but essential for life on earth.

Anonymous said...

"It is the sheer selfishness and arrogance of the drivers,"

Yes, how horrific that mothers want to drive their children around in a vehicle that offers them greater protection should an accident happen. It would be so much fairer if they were forced to drive an old banger so that all could have an equal chance of death on the road.

There are far too many busybodies around nowadays.

unothordox behaviour said...

Let me explain. There are emissions - CO2 - and pollution - NoX and particulates. Emissions might affect the planet in a small way, but pollution makes people ill. CO2 is not poisonous.

Which city has some of the worst NOX and particulates in Europe, well outside EU legal requirements? Yes, London.

Where from? Diesel buses, vans and taxis. And the retro-fit anti-smog kit doesn't work unless the exhaust temperatures are very high. And that's why it doesn't work in stop-start conditions.

Finally, the London bus subsidy. In 1998 London buses made a £100k profit. In 2007, they'll require a £1.1bn subsidy. Ken has lost control and can't afford it. And up goes the C-charge, for 44 percent of vehicles.

BTW, the new charges only apply on cars registered after March 2001. Prior to that, it's an £8 flat rate. Anybody got an old Range Rover?

Anonymous said...

For all of you rich townie buggers with big cars, here are a few words of wisdom. "Ken Livingstone is a old-school Socialist who hates rich buggers with big cars". It's not exactly a revelation is it? Why do you think he is called Red Ken?

If you don't like living in Ken's Socialist Republic of London, can I suggest you move out to the provinces where everyone has 4x4s (muddy ones) and a socialist is something we read about in newspapers but rarely see in real life.

Anonymous said...

Heres an idea
we just abolish the office of mayor?

I put in an application suggesting the powers of the Mayor were cut . I now think I should have gone the whole hog. BUT what about all the other parasitic anti-democratic bodies ? The GLA is just a start

( As usual it isn`t really Prescott as everyone says ;it is the EU , he is just applying the policy )

Anonymous said...

Nice summary 2bor not 2b

"to raise 'green' taxes high enough to affect behaviour will not improve the environment, but instead will lead to a revolt against those who raise the taxes

Why not reduce taxes on enviromentally friendly activity . Until I see one example of this obvious double good I will assume it is the state as usual eating all the pies

You fat bastard ! ( the state that is)

neil craig said...

2br02b is quite correct.

If we we produced what is effectively a constitutional requirement for the government to raise taxes annually so much as to reduce CO2 production by 3% annually, bearing in mind that our normal growth rate is 2.5%, we will have a permanent real time recession.

The only other possibility would be to build large numbers of nuclear power stations all over the country, which is something I would support but current Tory leadership wouldn't.

The extent to which our economy is already restricted by power limitations can be seen by the fact that France, with almost exactly tha same sized economy & warmer weather consumes 20% more electricty than us (& produces 44% exporting the rest).

If the Tories won't do any good they can at least not join with Meacher & the LDs in making it worse.

Anonymous said...

you're dead wrong. The congestion charge is an environmental measure, but it is the best sort of environmental measure - a local one. It will make a negligible impact on global warming, but a reduction in the number of heavy engines on london streets makes london an nicer place to live and breathe. People talk a lot of shite about India and China. In fact, they are two of the very few parts of the world that already have environmental riots! People protest directly about factories in their town that make their lives unpleasant. When Chinese and Indian cities become unbearably clogged with traffic and pollution, those governments do take action - and they can be expected to continue taking action, in a slightly despotic fashion that puts even Ken Livingstone to shame. Look what has happened in Delhi and Calcutta in recent years. Delhi in particular now has cleaner air than London. Astonishing thought.

Unknown said...

Some good points made in the Telegraph letters this morning. It should all be about emissions per person - in other words a bunch of small cars driving around with one person in are much worse than a slightly bigger car with two or three passengers - but Ken makes no allowance for this. I have a big car, but it is hardly ever driven with one person in it - there are usually four of us!

Anonymous said...

I don't think you are missing the point Iain so much as looking at it from the wrong perspective.
Check out Little Nicky Machiavelli's view on King Kenute and the tide of climate change...

Anonymous said...

I think people are just too horrid about urban else are extremely fat, arrogant morons going to get themselves from A to B? Urban 4x4 drivers are people too... (I am told) Perhaps there is an argument for running them on liposuction effluence.

Anonymous said...

Want to see a graph of emisiions in the past years?
Go to

Also, there are some elements highlighted regarding the impact that the ocean and naval war has on climate change.