Stop growth, redistribute wealth and try to save the planet | Brussels Blog

Stop growth, redistribute wealth and try to save the planet

posted by on 22nd Jul 2015

Stop growth, redistribute wealth and try to save the planet

Consume less or consume more?

A previous piece, A green recession and full employment, starts

To save the world from climate catastrophe we need a recession because we have to cut consumption that pollutes. We need a “green recession“.

In the section, On the need to decrease economic growth in the Encyclical Laudato Si, Pope Francis says

given the insatiable and irresponsible growth produced over many decades, we need also to think of containing growth by setting some reasonable limits and even re- tracing our steps before it is too late.

re- tracing our steps before it is too late” means reverting to previous less polluting lifestyles and reducing consumption. Less consumption would mean a recession.

However, the World Bank advocates more consumption. In End extreme poverty and promote shared prosperity, it says

[To end extreme poverty] will require sustaining high rates of economic growth across the developing world, as well as translating growth more effectively into poverty reduction in each developing country.

Ending poverty

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BBC promotes growth & ignores climate dangers

posted by on 20th Jul 2015

The BBC is reckless in continually presenting economic growth without acknowledging its climate dangers. (See a previous post Is Green Growth a Fantasy? or  Kevin Anderson’s impressive interview in Climate targets ‘impossible’ unless rich cut emissions 10%}

What follows is the tail end of the BBC’s response to my complaint about this. The complaint was not considered because I did not give a specific example. My complaint was that there were no warnings.

The BBC still says

Our core mission remains the same as it was when we were established back in 1922:

to inform, educate and entertain.

But the BBC does not inform us on the dangers of growth to the climate.


Request for review by Trustees

The complainant [Geoff Beacon] asked that [BBC] Trustees review the decision of the Senior Complaints Adviser that the appeal should not proceed.

[Geoff Beacon] said:

1) All BBC business output promotes growth.
2) No BBC business output notes its climate dangers.

He also enquired if he should complain about a few business programmes at random.

He objected to the BBC Audience Services’ stance whereby they wrote to him:

We can only investigate complaints when we are given a specific example of when a said incident occurred on output produced by the BBC. If you would like to give us a specific example of a story on economic growth that we covered (transmission date, programme etc), where you feel it would have been relevant to the story to mention environmental issues, we can investigate and respond in detail.

He stated that his complaint is that:

The BBC never mentions the economic causes of the environmental disaster that is clearly on the horizon. Even if this disaster is not clear to the BBC, it is clear to many scientific observers, who deserve a mention. Does the requirement to give a specific example of something that never happens, mean that it is impossible to make a complaint to the BBC on this issue?

The Panel’s decision

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Is Green Growth a Fantasy?

posted by on 14th Jul 2015

Is Green Growth a Fantasy?

Carbon emissions must be reduced to avoid dangerous climate change. Economic growth will increase emissions unless production is decarbonised.

Can the world’s economy be decarbonised fast enough to allow growth that is also green?

Or must the world’s economy shrink?

The carbon intensity of production

The total production of the world economy is the combined production of all the countries in the world. It is called the gross world product (GWP). In dollar terms, this has been estimated as $87 trillion for 2013.

The amount of greenhouse gasses humans emit is determined partly by GWP. It is also also determined by how much greenhouse gas is emitted for each unit of GWP. Roughly 400 grammes of CO2 are emitted for each dollar’s worth of production. This the Carbon Intensity. It gives

Global_emissions_of_CO2 = Gross_World_Product*Carbon_Intensity

Global_emissions_of_CO2 in numbers is:

$87 trillion * 400 grammes CO2/$ = 35 billion tonnes

The goods and services the “average” person produces is the Personal_Product so

Gross_World_Product= World_Population*Personal_Product

Gross_World_Product in numbers is:

6.8 billion people * $1300= $87 trillion

This means Global_emissions_of_CO2 is (1)


This helps us see that there are three ways of reducing carbon emissions:

1. Reduce World Population
2. Reduce Personal Product
3. Reduce Carbon Intensity

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Embodied carbon recognised at last

posted by on 5th Jul 2015

Embodied carbon means…

We must rethink Sir Peter Hall’s eco-town vision

The carbon dioxide emissions due to construction are called “embodied carbon”. It has only recently has it been acknowledged that building homes, offices, factories, shops and roads is very carbon intensive.

In November 2008, I attended a talk by Sir Peter Hall. The slides he showed are on ECO-TOWNS: Will they be Eco-? Can they become Towns? After a short introduction about climate change and the need for more housing, he described eco-towns in England and a few in Europe. He gave a positive impression of all of them and how they were reducing carbon emissions.
Most of the English examples were proposed eco-towns that had not been built at the time – and they probably never will be. However, the first one he showed had been built. It was the Beddington Zero Energy Development (BedZED) for which he noted:
BEDZED: UK’s largest eco-village• Opened March 2002

• BioRegional/ Peabody Trust/Bill Dunster Associates
• 100 homes, community facilities and workspace for 100 people
• Heating requirements: ca 10% typical home
• 60% recycling aim
• Target fossil fuel car miles: 50% national average
• Hackbridge Station 5 mins
• Car Club
• Local facilities: football pitch, club house….

Carbon emissions from construction

What Sir Peter didn’t know was that BEDZED created large carbon dioxide emissions due to its construction. These emissions are called “embodied carbon”. I can confirm he didn’t know because when I told him and didn’t believe me until a subsequent email exchange. The correspondence is described in the Appendices.
Sir Peter’s reply acknowledged two points:

–The embodied carbon in BEDZED is 67.5 tonnes of CO2 of CO2 for a three bedroomed flat.
— Government aims to cut the carbon emissions per person to 2 tonnes CO2e per year by 2050.

I estimate that the embodied carbon in the infrastructure required for a new resident in a “city of BEDZEDs” is of the order of 100 tonnes CO2e: Building homes, offices, factories, shops and roads is carbon intensive.

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Lorries and A-boards and York Council

posted by on 29th Jun 2015

In 2008, the council threatened businesses who did not remove A-boards with a £2,500 fine over fears they would block pavements and cause accidents, but relented the following year, telling traders no action was likely if boards were propped against buildings.

York Press 6th March 2013

Here’s an A-board that I have moved onto the pavement.

Why did I do this?

Because I have seen several people fall over at this spot. I went to invesigate and found this

That’s why the people were falling over. One tripped as I was investigating.

It’s the heavy lorries that do it. We need more A-boards to keep them off the pavement.

Four legal questions:

1) What’s my legal position in moving an A-board for public safety.

2) What would York Council’s legal position be if they insist on it being moved and put the public at risk.

3) Who would prosecute?

4) Any action against the lorries?

P.S. The A-board is being read more often.

World Wide Carbon Fee and Dividend

posted by on 11th Jun 2015

Worldwide personal carbon budget: 33 tonnes CO2e
(or if we risk 2˚C it’s 151 tonnes)

Carbon Brief reports the remaining carbon budget to give a 66% chance of keeping global warming below 1.5˚C as 243 billion tonnes. That means, if humanity emits 243 billion tonnes more of CO2e global temperature will rise to 1.5˚C above pre-industrial. Using the same calculations, the remaining carbon budget to keep below 2˚C is 843 billion tonnes.

However, we know the climate models that the IPCC used to calculate these remaining budgets (the CMIP5 models) have missing feedbacks and their estimates of temperature rise were underestimates. This means the carbon budgets for given temperature rises are too generous and should be taken as upper limits.

World population was estimated recently at 7,317,801,293 by Worldometers. Dividing Carbon Brief’s remaining carbon budgets by the world’s population sets the remaining worldwide personal carbon budget at a maximum of 33 tonnes CO2e for a 1.5˚C rise or 115 tonnes for a 2˚C rise.

The UK Government aims at a peak temperature 2°C?

But is 2°C safe? Not according to James Hansen. A few days ago, on Australia’s RN breakfast, he said:

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Cycling holiday homes (2010)

posted by on 5th Jun 2015

I wrote this note in 2010.
It is being posted here so I don’t lose it.

Cycling holiday homes

Cycling holiday homes is initially aimed at exploiting a niche market – people that enjoy recreational cycling, the countryside and may have an interest in heritage.


The York area is a good location because it has good cycle routes that are part of the national network passing through pleasant areas which are connected to many areas of interest. Places of interest near York on the White Rose Cycle Route, routes 65 and 66 on the national routes, include Benningborough Hall, York Racecourse, the National Rail Museum, York Minster and many other places of historic interest in York City centre itself. York has been designated as a Cycling City from 2008 – 2011 with £3.68m of government funding. Cycling City York ran the second York Festival of Cycling at Rowntree Park recently.

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Carbon capture and storage (2007)

posted by on 2nd Jun 2015

I met John Hutton, Secretary of State for Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform at the launch of the “London Accord”, in the Mansion House.  I tackled him about the cancellation of the Carbon Capture and Storage that BP were going to pilot at Peterhead.  In 2003, I had been part of a Citizens’ Panel on CCS organised by the Tyndal Centre. Phil Willis MP was the chair of the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee.

21st December 2007

To John Hutton MP

Dear Secretary of State,

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posted by on 13th May 2015

This post was the contents of (now retired)

Plastic better than recycling glass

6th August, 2009

Recycling bottles – breaking them up, melting them down and making new bottles – does not benefit to the environment much. We start with these questions:

1. How does this footprint of a bottle made from recycled material compare with the footprint of a bottle made from virgin material?

2. How does the recycled bottle footprint compare with other forms of packaging?

Some information on the carbon footprint of bottles can be found at wineenabler . They say

In the U.S., recycled glass accounts for about 25% of all glass on the market. Also, using recycled glass reduces the carbon footprint of the resulting bottle by about 25%.

They also say

you can manufacture and dispose of about 2.7 plastic wine bottles for the same carbon footprint that you could manufacture and recycle 1 glass bottle.

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posted by on 9th May 2015

This post was the contents of (now retired)

A 26 year ration

22nd September, 2009

The Green Ration Book says

The average UK citizen creates 11 tonnes of Carbon Dioxide ( CO2e) a year. New UK targets aim to cut this by 80%. Dividing the ration equally between categories “consumables”, “building”, “transport” and “government”, allows 1.5kg per day. – The Green Ration Book

It also calculates the carbon footprint of a return flight to Australia to be over 7 tonnes of carbon dioxide. That is 13 years  of your carbon ration for transport.  Assuming you want to save half your ration for car, train, taxi and bus transport, that makes the your trip to Australia to be 26 years of your carbon ration for air flights.

Why not join the No Miles High Club? suspended pending further information

23rd May, 2010

“Attribution of climate forcing to economic sectors” by Nadine Unger et. al. has made us stop to think. It shows that for a few decades, the effect of aircraft flights is to cool the earth before their longer term effects cause global warming.

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