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

Rituals for Lover Earth

by Shaun Chamberlin on October 16th, 2009

Lover Earth

This is Dark Optimism’s first ever guest post. The below article was originally published a week ago by Charles Eisenstein, on the Reality Sandwich web magazine.

It blew me away, exploring the themes of cultural stories and definitions of self that will be familiar to my regular readers, yet bringing to light their deeper reaches in a way that I found both enlightening and exciting. It is longer than my usual contributions, but well worth the effort.

As Charles kindly gave permission for me to reproduce his article here, I will let his words speak for themselves.

Read more »

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 »

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 »

What a month!

by Shaun Chamberlin on November 7th, 2008

Barack Obama

What with the founding of the new UK Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), our Government’s commitment to 80% emissions cuts by 2050, the election of Barack Obama, the International Energy Agency acknowledging that “current global trends in energy supply and consumption are patently unsustainable” and the latest shudders of the moribund economic system, a lot has happened since my last post.

In fact I have had a real sense, both through public events and private discussions, that things are starting to shift – that finally a recognition of the collective nature and overwhelming severity of these challenges is starting to spread. That said, at this stage the problems still appear to be worsening more quickly than our awareness is improving and, crucially, the real challenges of the interactions between these crises and the implications of addressing them still remain largely unacknowledged. Read more »

BBC Radio 4 discusses Peak Oil (intelligently!)

by Shaun Chamberlin on September 27th, 2008

BBC Radio 4

The “You and Yours” programme on BBC Radio 4 this week held a studio discussion on Peak Oil, with energy investment banker Matt Simmons, peak oil educator Richard Heinberg and the Chair of the UK All Party Parliamentary Group on Peak Oil, John Hemming MP. The 12 minute discussion can be heard here and includes discussion of the options open to the UK government, including Tradable Energy Quotas (TEQs).

Polly Toynbee joins Team TEQs

by Shaun Chamberlin on August 17th, 2008

Polly Toynbee

Last month I attended an Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) meeting called to announce their latest research into personal carbon allowances. Polly Toynbee was invited to chair the meeting, and was clearly impressed with what she heard as she has now written a very positive article about TEQs in her column in the Guardian. In it she reminds us of DEFRA’s description of the scheme as “ahead of its time” and derides the Government’s delay in moving towards implementation.

The IPPR have now joined our challenge to DEFRA’s decision to delay a full feasibility study into TEQs, announcing that their research found that the public are far better disposed towards personal carbon allowances than DEFRA claim, and much prefer the idea to carbon taxation or upstream carbon trading (IPPR’s research took the time to explain the three schemes rather more thoroughly than DEFRA had, which certainly helped on this score).

Why do they do it?

by Shaun Chamberlin on July 27th, 2008

Mum's the word

Since my earlier review of Burn Up I have discovered a comment on the film posted yesterday by Jeremy Leggett, one of the few with any media profile to openly discuss the interplay of peak oil and climate change.

In his piece Leggett asks: “Why do the carbon-club lobbyists and contrarians do what they do? What is in their heads as they go about their work? Surely they must see the power of the emerging evidence that the threat is real, and massive? … I don’t have an explanation.”

This is a question I have devoted a lot of thought to, and I will venture an answer. Read more »

Burn up

by Shaun Chamberlin on July 27th, 2008

Neve Campbell in Burn Up

I have just watched the BBC’s outstanding thriller Burn Up, starring Rupert Penry-Jones, Marc Warren, Bradley Whitford and Neve Campbell (trailer available here).

It is a dramatic account of the intrigue, betrayal, sex and violence surrounding characters in the oil industry, international diplomacy and the environmental movement in the build up to the international conference that will decide on the successor to the Kyoto Protocol. For those who haven’t yet seen it, be aware that the discussion below the cut contains spoilers. Read more »