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Mark Lynas on carbon rationing
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biffvernon



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PostPosted: Tue Jun 03, 2008 9:27 pm    Post subject: Mark Lynas on carbon rationing Reply with quote

http://www.marklynas.org/2008/5/30/why-i-was-wrong-about-rationing

What do folks think about Mark Lynas's article?
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RenewableCandy



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PostPosted: Tue Jun 03, 2008 10:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was more of a fan of 'rationing' than I am now, because it might well be used an an excuse (yet another one!) to bring in ID cards, of which I thoroughly disapprove for security reasons*

Perhaps the best thing to do would be to tax upstream a la this article, and extend the Winter Fuel Allowance to poor people who aren't old. They would then have the same incentive to become energy-efficient as the rest of us, but with less pain.

*Imagine being female, and being mugged. The thief runs away with your bag, containing keys, oh and a handy little card with your name and address on it. And before you ask: what pockets?
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clv101
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 03, 2008 11:06 pm    Post subject: Re: Mark Lynas on carbon rationing Reply with quote

Mark Lynas wrote:
A far simpler way to constrain carbon is to deal ?upstream? with the few dozen companies that produce or import fossil fuels, rather than ?downstream? with tens of millions of consumers.

Bang on. For an earlier treatment of this idea see The Oil Drum.
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Bandidoz
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 03, 2008 11:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good article. I've heard of an analogy in Marketing called something like "Rocks, Pebbles, Sand". Sort out the rocks to have 80% effectiveness with 20% effort.

RenewableCandy wrote:
extend the Winter Fuel Allowance to poor people who aren't old

Surely it would be more to the point to depletion-proof their homes? In a way that would be better than empowering people with tradable quotas, because we all know that 99% of the general population are completely short-sighted in this domain, so an administration-led scheme would probably work more effectively?
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jo



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PostPosted: Tue Jun 03, 2008 11:49 pm    Post subject: Why Mark Lynas is STILL Wrong ! Reply with quote

I don't think Mark Lynas quite gets all the issues behind Carbon Quotas for the People :-

http://www.newstatesman.com/environment/2008/05/carbon-rationing-lynas

so I've written a draft of a piece that I hope could centre him back on the righteous road to rationing :-

http://www.changecollege.org.uk/html/why_mark_lynas_is_still_wrong.html
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energy-village



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PostPosted: Wed Jun 04, 2008 12:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

RenewableCandy wrote:
*Imagine being female, and being mugged. The thief runs away with your bag, containing keys, oh and a handy little card with your name and address on it. And before you ask: what pockets?


Assuming the mugger has access to a ID card reader (I agree, quite possible).

Though according to this BBC story the cards won't hold addresses.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/3127696.stm

Quote:
What information will be on the cards?

The card will contain basic identification information including a photograph of the card holder, along with their name, gender and date of birth. The Home Office says the card will not hold an address.
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RevdTess



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PostPosted: Wed Jun 04, 2008 7:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

From the article:-
Quote:
At what point should you sell your unused ration? Carbon prices will doubtless fluctuate, like prices in any tradable commodity. Might you get more for your carbon buck in six months? time? Would you be better off flogging the lot the moment it comes through the door, and then buying carbon on the spot market the next time you fill your petrol tank? I can?t see most ordinary people ? most of whom wouldn?t dream of speculating on currency exchanges or the commodities markets ? understanding how to play the system. And that means they are likely to lose out or get ripped off. It also means that people would not be getting the correct price signal to encourage them to change their behaviour.


Finally, someone who gets it. I've been banging on about this on the TEQ forum threads for a while but the tradeable quota advocates seem clueless about the realities of trading. I mean, if govts and middle classes are already screaming about speculators manipulating global oil prices, how long do you think a carbon trading system (whose sole purpose is artificial demand destruction) would survive? As Mark says, everyone would have to become an oil or carbon trader, and many would get ripped off.

Much as I'd love to personally benefit from my lower-carbon lifestyle and the ability to trade quotas, I agree with Mark that the more pragmatic solutions are best. Tax and redistribution. I know it's not sexy, but it's proven and effective, and already has public consent (even tho we grumble and protest about the amounts).
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clv101
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 04, 2008 8:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tess wrote:
Tax and redistribution. I know it's not sexy, but it's proven and effective, and already has public consent (even tho we grumble and protest about the amounts).

Why not address the problem you raise by having carbon rationing and trading only in the upstream. To use carbon first you must produce carbon. There are a few billion users but only a few hundred producers.
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jo



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PostPosted: Wed Jun 04, 2008 9:40 am    Post subject: Carbon Responsibility versus Carbon Throughput Reply with quote

@Tess

The problem with only having upstream Carbon Trading is that large Energy and Fuel companies can quite reasonably argue that they only pay for Carbon Permits for their OWN Carbon Emissions, but not be held responsible for the Carbon Emissions of the products that they SELL.

So, for example, a company like BP or Shell would end up paying quite minimal amounts for the Carbon Permits to carry on with their business, regardless of exactly how much Carbon they put into the Carbon Pipeline.

Unless the upstream operators accept controls on the actual amount of Energy and Fuel that they feed into the Carbon Pipeline, without downstream (end consumer) Carbon Rationing, there is no way of creating a Carbon Cap.

The exact same issue comes into play when considering the Carbon Emissions of every function of State. Both National and Local Government refuse to be held responsible for the outcome of their Carbon Intensive policies.

The National Government insists on blaming end consumers for Carbon Emissions, even though their policies lock end consumers into a High Carbon lifestyle through the High Carbon services that are deployed.
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Adam1



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PostPosted: Wed Jun 04, 2008 10:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't think it is an either or decision: rationing vs. tackling with the suppler side.

I agree that it makes much more sense to try to tackle the few hundred coal producers. But if that effort works, we will need to manage the resulting shortages. With oil & gas, we will have shortages anyway, so the problem remains of how to manage those shortages.

If there are shortages, there will be rationing: either by price; WW2 style rationing (with illegal trading of rations) or TEQ style rationing, where the trading is officially condoned. Even if we have a tax regime that modifies the economics, it won't stop rationing in one or other form. So we get back to the TEQs vs. Tax debate.
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clv101
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 04, 2008 10:36 am    Post subject: Re: Carbon Responsibility versus Carbon Throughput Reply with quote

jo wrote:
The problem with only having upstream Carbon Trading is that large Energy and Fuel companies can quite reasonably argue that they only pay for Carbon Permits for their OWN Carbon Emissions, but not be held responsible for the Carbon Emissions of the products that they SELL.

That's not the issue we're talking about Jo. The first line of any such legislation has to specify it's about the carbon produced not the carbon their operation uses. The legislation isn't even about the carbon they use - they can use however much they like (it's already counted as produced) - this is specifically about the carbon they put onto the market.

That production allowance can be rationed and traded.
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jo



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PostPosted: Wed Jun 04, 2008 11:27 am    Post subject: Choke Points and Compromise Reply with quote

@clv101

As for taking responsibility (i.e. paying) for the Carbon that Big Oil have pumped into the economic Carbon Pipeline, I am trying to describe how lobbying and compromise have avoided "choke points" so far, and how the same rationale will likely get used again in a regime of Carbon Permits for upstream players.

"Our customers demand this product/fuel, so we should be at liberty to supply it without any form of restraint. It will damage the economy if we do not supply."

BP and Shell and so on are already claiming in their Carbon Disclosure and Corporate Social Responsibility statements that they are "going green" and reducing their Carbon Emissions. As if that's all they were responsible for !

@Adam1

I see the Auction of Carbon Permits as the basic form of what I call Carbon Protection - ringfencing the rights of Carbon-Intensive business to carry on burning.

The EU ETS only allows up to 10% of rights by auction :-

http://www.eoearth.org/article/European_Union_Emissions_Trading_Scheme_(EU_ETS)
"Countries will be allowed the option to auction up to 5% of allowances in the first phase of the program and up to 10% in the second phase."

and there are good reasons for that.

We have to address the issue of "ownership" - who OWNS the Carbon in the case that Carbon Permits are sold at Auction.

He who OWNS, CONTROLS, and if large Carbon Corporates own the Carbon, by protecting their fabulous wealth by purchasing the Carbon Permits at Auction, they will effectively continue to dictate the amount of Carbon entering the Economy.

This has endless opportunities for abuse, compromise, lobbying, threats.

Expect the Big Energy people (I include Nuclear and all electricity generation in there as effectively still upstream) to complain about and whittle up the National Allocations from Europe. They're doing it already, but expect it to get progressively more complex if full "competition" is created by Auctioning Carbon Permits.

The fact is, the Auctioning of Carbon Permits will safeguard "Wealth as Usual", that is, "Business as Usual". Only the Carbon Wealthy will be able to compete for the Carbon Permits.

My view is that in thin sectors of the Economy, there is NO SUCH THING as competition. Look how the Home Energy suppliers have been hauled up over apparent price-hiking/fixing recently.

Since Big Energy operates as a self-protecting cartel, the Carbon cannot be effectively managed by a "competition" for Carbon Permits. There will be extensive "Carbon Leakage" whereby unaccounted for Energy supplies appear in the Economy, if you check carefully.

I expect this is happening already. Nobody can truly account for all the electricity that is supplied through the National Grid.

In my view, the only secure way to control Carbon is through consumer-side rationing.
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jo



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PostPosted: Wed Jun 04, 2008 11:43 am    Post subject: The Pricing of Carbon Permits cannot trigger de-Carbonisatio Reply with quote

One of the points I just omitted to include was to point out that if the Big Energy companies are constrained to pay for all their Carbon Permits by competing for them at Auction, then there will be no finance left to pay for de-Carbonisation, that is, building Renewable and Sustainable Energy delivery infrastructure.

This is a serious critique of Auctions of Carbon Permits.

Auctions of Carbon Permits will create an extra cost burden to Big Energy, and some of that will inevitably be passed downstream in the form of higher Energy costs. This will presumably have a trickle-down effect of replicating Carbon Control at the end-consumer point, because theoretically the end consumer will lower their consumption if they can.

But the central point is that, by causing general inflation in Energy costs, there will be no capacity left over for Green Energy development.

The de-Carbonisation of the Energy suppliers is crucial, but actively stopped by Auctioning Carbon Permits.

As a Big Energy company. it will ALWAYS be cheaper to pay for your Carbon Permits at Auction than invest in changing your energy infrastructure.

And since the lowest cost option is always the shareholders' preference, then we get stuck with Carbon-Intensive Big Energy.

Carbon Taxation and Carbon Auctions do not stimulate the transition to Green Energy, because money is a Carbon-supported currency.

Money takes its value from Carbon, so we cannot expect money to be able to replace Carbon.
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clv101
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 04, 2008 11:50 am    Post subject: Re: Choke Points and Compromise Reply with quote

jo wrote:
In my view, the only secure way to control Carbon is through consumer-side rationing.

You haven't offered any evidence as to why consumer-side rationing is better than upstream rationing. I think upstream rationing has more potential in the required timescale.

Here's why. The timescale is critical - we need to make an impact in a decade not "by 2050". Anything that happens at the consumer side suffers from the partial adoption problem, one stakeholder does not make a difference. Anything one person does will be compensated for by someone else, even anything a relatively small country does will be fully compensated for. There is no net effect until a significant number of stakeholders reduce - we don't have the time for that.

Upstream rationing does not suffer from this problem. In this time of peaking energy, if one producer reduces their production there is a net reduction. New energy/carbon from elsewhere will not compensate.

I also think it's easier to regulate a few hundred companies operating in not much more than a dozen significant countries than billions of people in hundreds of countries.

Your point that oil producers only want to count their own use rather than their production is a problem is uncharacteristically unambitious of you. Of course they don't want to count it... guess what, people don't want to be rationed either. The difference with big oil though is that they can be TOLD by their host governments that from tomorrow your production will be counted and from next year rationed. Where are they doing to go?
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jo



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PostPosted: Wed Jun 04, 2008 11:54 am    Post subject: Economic Stabilisation : Social Protection Reply with quote

The point I keep coming back to is the goal of Economic Stabilisation : that is, the balancing of the system of labour and production, incentives and brakes, so that the welfare of the Society is maintained.

Any system of Carbon Control that enforces higher Energy prices on the people will have a de-stabilising effect, and cause social upheaval. I resist deep "reform"-type changes because of the inherent social violence.

And I am in solidarity with those who suffer extra costs and deprivations from market and policy changes. For example, I'm with the small haulage firms and their struggle to survive with rising fuel prices, just as I am outraged by the recent 10p tax fiasco.

The people have a right to access to Energy, and as part of the actions taken against Climate Change, they also have a right to access to Clean, Green Energy.

All the systems of "Polluter Pays" that have been proposed so far allow for Big Energy to pass on the costs of pollution down the Carbon Chain to the end consumer.

This is tantamount to creating poverty, as is recognised in the recent move on releasing funds to help with Fuel Poverty (but don't ask where the money came from...)

Therefore I think that money should not be the default or only way to try to control Carbon. I think Carbon restriction should be done by restricting Carbon itself. Hence I agree with systems of Carbon Rationing.

There ARE some financial measures that can be helpful : for example, creating "fines" for over-use of the Carbon resource. This is what would happen if individuals got their free Carbon Ration each year/week, but used more than their rationed allowance.

A system of Carbon Taxation, or 100% auctioning of Carbon Permits, which is effectively the same thing, is not a system of "fines". It's a system of impoverishment of the people, and so I am against it.
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