"To be truly radical is to make hope possible, rather than despair convincing." - Raymond Williams

Interactive Carbon IQ Test, and real climate change solutions

by Shaun Chamberlin on December 7th, 2009

The above ‘Carbon IQ test’ is an excellent way of exploring how much you know about the carbon cycle, and what that means for viable solutions to our climate challenge. Have a go at it before checking out the information below.

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Carbon Offsetting, what’s it really about?

by Shaun Chamberlin on December 1st, 2009

Reversion - carbon offsetting

Off the back of the comments on carbon offsetting in the two videos I have posted in the last week, I should mention that this Wednesday evening I will be on a panel discussing offsets, carbon trading and carbon rationing as part of CheatNeutral‘s spoof chat show ‘Going Neutral’ at the Science Museum’s Dana Centre.

(edit – the debate can be viewed retrospectively on my site here)

So this feels like the perfect time to take a look at the concept of voluntary carbon offsetting, the most recognised example of which is the planting of trees to ‘soak up’ our carbon emissions, thus supposedly making our net impact ‘carbon neutral’…

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The Story of Cap and Trade

by Shaun Chamberlin on December 1st, 2009

The Story of Cap & Trade is the second offering from the project that brought us The Story of Stuff. In this ten minute video, host Annie Leonard presents an excellent, clearly explained look at some of the devil in the detail of Cap & Trade, explaining how it works and who it benefits.

Having said that, it does leave out perhaps the most damning criticism of cap and trade schemes like the EU emissions trading scheme (EU ETS) – that they are not only a passive distraction from real solutions, but are actually used to justify avoiding them. As The Guardian reported in October 2007:

“One of the main objections of government to meeting the renewables target…is that it will undermine the role of the European emission trading scheme.” Leaked UK Government documents argue that “[Meeting the EU’s target of 20% of energy being renewable by 2020] crucially undermines the scheme’s credibility … and reduces the incentives to invest in other carbon technologies like nuclear power.”

The final word – Al Gore debates climate sceptic Monckton

by Shaun Chamberlin on November 25th, 2009

All Party Parliamentary TEQs report – rationing, not carbon trading

by Shaun Chamberlin on August 14th, 2009

Market invisible hand

As the evidence for the utter inapplicability of free market carbon trading to our climate emergency continues to pile up, interest continues to grow in the less PR-friendly alternative – the rationing of carbon-rated energy.

Yesterday, the UK Government’s All Party Parliamentary Group on Peak Oil and Gas previewed a draft report commissioned from The Lean Economy Connection. The report, which I co-authored with Dr. David Fleming, emphasises the necessity of considering our pressing energy challenges alongside climate change, and argues that national energy rationing systems on the model of TEQs (Tradable Energy Quotas) will be essential to the fair distribution of fuel as shortages unfold, with implementation now an urgent priority for the UK.

John Hemming MP, Chairman of the All Party group, stated that the UK government remains unprepared for peak oil: “The evidence is now strong that peak oil is either upon us or just over the horizon. Even the International Energy Agency accepts that an oil supply crunch seems to be on its way. The UK government should urgently consider the TEQs system, as I believe it’s the only comprehensive and fair way to tackle climate change and the coming oil crisis.” Read more »

My respect for the ‘Drax 29’

by Shaun Chamberlin on July 3rd, 2009

Sign my pledge at PledgeBank

A week after NASA’s leading climate scientist Dr. James Hansen, actress Darryl Hannah and others crossed the line into illegal direct action in a desperate attempt to prevent coal mining and burning from ending our hopes of retaining a hospitable climate, twenty-nine protesters are standing trial here in England for a similar action last year.

The ‘Drax 29’ admit stopping (safely) a coal train two miles outside the Drax power station in an attempt to prevent the deaths already being caused by climate change. Nonetheless they have entered a “Not Guilty” plea against the charge of ‘Obstructing the Railway’ (which carries a maximum two year prison sentence). They are defending themselves in court, and after reading their inspiring closing statement justifying this position to the jury, I felt moved to create the pledge above. You can read their defence yourself in The Guardian here, or it is reproduced in full below: Read more »

Climate Camp 2009 needs you

by Shaun Chamberlin on June 29th, 2009

Dark Optimism Police

This year’s Climate Camp will run from Thurs 27th August to Weds 2nd Sept, at an as yet undeclared location in or around London (inside the M25).

This year the camp will not be culminating in a ‘direct action’, but will instead be focusing on movement-building and skill-sharing. I’m helping to organise the workshop programme, and would encourage all Dark Optimism readers to consider offering a talk/workshop/debate, by following this link. The deadline has now been extended, but if you’re interested then the sooner you can submit details the better. Read more »

Despairing of Ed Miliband, Becoming a Filmstar, and Other Adventures

by Shaun Chamberlin on June 4th, 2009

Shaun Chamberlin
It has been another crazy whirlwind of a month, with this weekend set to be the first in five which I get to spend in Transition Town Home, having spoken recently in Bungay, Glastonbury, Belsize Park and the Forest of Dean, as well at the Transition Conference (I hate that name, can’t we call it a ‘Gathering’ or something?) in Battersea, and at the Sunrise Celebration Festival.

One highlight for me was watching the world premi√®re of the movie “In Transition” and being surprised and delighted to find that I was in it (having completely forgotten the quick interview they grabbed with me at my book launch!). Another was meeting an A-Level teacher who is already using my book as a teaching aid for his Environmental Design students.

But perhaps of wider interest was the fact that Ed Miliband, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, turned up at the Transition Conference as a ‘keynote listener’, but still managed to drop a few bombshells. Read more »

Scottish Parliament discusses TEQs

by Shaun Chamberlin on May 12th, 2009

Tradable Energy Quotas

I was delighted to read this week that my recent article in Resurgence magazine has helped inspire Bill Wilson MSP to champion TEQs (Tradable Energy Quotas) in the ongoing debate on the Climate Change (Scotland) Bill.

Speaking in the Scottish Parliament, Dr. Wilson highlighted that “climate change could be an opportunity for Scotland, rather than a malign threat, a driver for truly sustainable development. We will be a greener country, of course, but we could and should also use climate change to become fairer, healthier and wealthier, smarter, safer and stronger”. Read more »

The Age of Stupid – Coming Soon?

by Shaun Chamberlin on February 14th, 2009

(Just a quickie, but the frantic process of preparing my book for publication is nearly complete, so posting here will resume in earnest soon. I have so many half-written posts to finish up! In the meantime, check out this interview I did with Carl Munson of Traydio.com the other day)