01 November 2006

Subsidising environmental destruction

My suggested response to climate change, which applies regardless of whether it is actually happening, is Climate Stability Bonds, which would reward who stabilise climate, however they do so. (Something has gone very wrong with blogger.com's html links: for a short article on Climate Stability Bonds please see http://socialgoals.com/ieakyototext.html .)

A bond regime would need no prejudging of what is happening to climate, what is causing it to happen, or how best to stop it happening if it is, indeed, happening. I'd rather a bond regime replaced Kyoto, which would be inadequate even if it weren't failing - which it is. But Climate Stability Bonds could also complement such efforts to cut back on greenhouse gas emissions as are being made.

Actually, the human species could go a long way to cutting such emissions simply by withdrawing subsidies for the extraction and use of fossil fuels. These can take the form of direct subsidies or tax breaks to the oil and road construction industries. Or they arise from the unpriced negative environmental impacts of fossil fuel use.

You'd think that such first steps would be the easiest to take, at least in comparison to the heroic demands of Kyoto. But we are not taking them. Perverse subsidies continue to wreak environmental havoc. Given these facts, is there anyone who genuinely believe that we are capable of making the sacrifices necessary to comply with Kyoto - as divisive and ineffectual as it is? Climate Stability Bonds would need a lot of discussion and refinement before they can be deployed. But to my mind it's essential that they, or some other scheme that directly targets a stable climate in ways that people can support, be considered - urgently.

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