Monday, May 26, 2008

Ration Books Coming Back

Are you sorted for unleaded?

Why does Tim Yeo think he's a Tory? Offhand, we can't recall a single Tory thing he's ever supported, and this morning he's recommending the reintroduction of ration books.

Not content with the egregious taxes on fuel, he wants to force us to use less by rationing the amount of carbon we can have: everyone will get a carbon ration book, which we can either use ourselves, or sell to rich yummy mummies from Chelsea to fuel their 4x4s.

According to Yeo, personal carbon trading has:

"...real potential to engage the population in the fight against climate change and to achieve significant emissions reductions in a progressive way".

He says "green" taxes, such as a petrol tax, cost poor people more because everyone - "billionaires and paupers" - pay the same amount.

"Under the personal carbon trading, someone who perhaps doesn't have an enormous house or swimming pool, someone who doesn't take several holidays in the Caribbean every year, will actually get a cash benefit if they keep a low carbon footprint."

For the Today prog, this is the morning's top story, the only issue being how they can get our clothead government to do it. Monbiot and Hilary Billery have just been on to argue the case. Nobody has been on to explain why it's a crap unworkable idea.

Setting on one side the fact that global warming seems to have stopped, and anyway nobody understands WTF's happening, and all those Doomsday scenarios are based on 50-100 year forecasts that are the worst GIGO crap you can possibly conceive, and anyway we only produce 2% of global emissions so a UK scheme would achieve SFA, and we'd stuff our own prosperity for no significant gain... setting all that on one side, don't these berks understand how rationing works?

As explained on Saturday's Supersizers Go Wartime, the poor sell their ration books to the rich. The rich then dine hugely on champagne and caviar - rendered all the more delicious because nobody else can get it - while the poor live on carrots and black market snoek.

The black market was a major problem during the War, and we were under U-Boat blockade at the time. How much worse it would be in today's globalised open markets: the Bunsfield style consequences of illegal importation of black market petrol can only be guessed at (unless of course Yeo and Monbiot propose a full submarine blockade... you wouldn't put it past them).

The unintended consequences of bonkers eco-policies are amply demonstrated by today's report on the consequences of those Kyoto carbon offset schemes. According to research at Stanford:

"The UN's main offset fund is being routinely abused by chemical, wind, gas and hydro companies who are claiming emission reduction credits for projects that should not qualify. The result is that no genuine pollution cuts are being made, undermining assurances by the UK government and others that carbon markets are dramatically reducing greenhouse gases.

The criticism centres on the UN's clean development mechanism (CDM), an international system established by the Kyoto process that allows rich countries to meet emissions targets by funding clean energy projects in developing nations. Credits from the project are being bought by European companies and governments who are unable to meet their carbon reduction targets.

The market for CDM credits is growing fast. At present it is worth nearly $20bn a year, but this is expected to grow to over $100bn within four years. More than 1,000 projects have so far been approved, and 2,000 more are making their way through the process.

A working paper from two senior Stanford University academics examined more than 3,000 projects applying for or already granted up to $10bn of credits from the UN's CDM funds over the next four years, and concluded that the majority should not be considered for assistance. "They would be built anyway," says David Victor, law professor at the Californian university. "It looks like between one and two thirds of all the total CDM offsets do not represent actual emission cuts."

In reality the West is paying a large amount to operators in places like China to subsidise new hydro and gas-fired power stations that would be built anyway. The Stanford researchers say:

"Traders are finding ways of gaining credits that they would never have had before. You will never know accurately, but rich countries are clearly overpaying by a massive amount."


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