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

Reinventing collapse

by Shaun Chamberlin on June 29th, 2008

Reinventing Collapse

As George Carlin once said, “they call it the American dream because you have to be asleep to believe in it”.

At the risk of this blog becoming ‘review corner’, that seems the perfect introduction to the book I just finished reading – Dmitry Orlov’s brilliantly enjoyable Reinventing Collapse. This is a true work of dark optimism, with a fair dash of dark humour to boot.

In it, Orlov draws on his experiences of the collapse of the Soviet Union to explore the future American residents like him are likely to face as the effects of the USA’s disastrous economic, energy and foreign policies take hold. Read more »

TEQs (downstream) or Cap and Dividend (upstream)?

by Shaun Chamberlin on June 8th, 2008

Stream

In the climate policy community there is a growing debate between advocates of ‘upstream’ and ‘downstream’ carbon caps (dams?). The terms draw an analogy between the flow of water in a stream and the flow of energy through an economy. ‘Upstream’ advocates want to regulate the few dozen fuel and energy companies that bring carbon into the economy, arguing that this is cheaper and simpler than addressing the behaviour of tens of millions of ‘downstream’ consumers.

At first glance this seems a convincing argument, but there is one important regard in which an upstream scheme fails – it does not engage the general populace in the changes required. Read more »

Why Mark Lynas is wrong to say he’s wrong!

by Shaun Chamberlin on June 7th, 2008

Mark Lynas
Last week Mark Lynas wrote an article for the New Statesman in which he surprisingly argued against carbon rationing. As he acknowledges, this is a complete reversal from his earlier article in which he argued for it in the strongest of terms. Unfortunately, I believe his thinking on this is moving in the wrong direction.

His argument is essentially that we need the cheapest, simplest way of implementing a firm global carbon cap. I absolutely agree that such a cap is crucial and necessary, but it is a mistake to imagine that this alone is sufficient to realistically address climate change. The setting of a cap is a fairly abstract process – the real challenge is to develop a society that can exist within that cap. Read more »

BBC – “MPs back personal carbon credits”

by Shaun Chamberlin on May 26th, 2008

BBC news

Today the UK Parliament’s Environmental Audit Committee (EAC), tasked with evaluating the Government’s environmental progress, published their report into Personal Carbon Trading, finding that “personal carbon trading could be essential in helping to reduce our national carbon footprint”.

They also state, in keeping with the conclusions of our own response to DEFRA’s pre-feasibility study: “We regret that…the Government is indicating that it will wind down its work on personal carbon trading…Although we commend the Government for its intention to maintain engagement in the academic debate, we urge it to do more…We would like to see the Government leading and shaping debate and co-ordinating activity and research.”

This report has led to a flurry of media interest. Read more »

DEFRA’s pre-feasibility study into TEQs

by Shaun Chamberlin on May 19th, 2008

Defra - Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

This is just a quick post to point people towards the DEFRA pre-feasibility study into TEQs that came out earlier this month, and in particular the critical responses to it posted by the Centre for Sustainable Energy and The Lean Economy Connection (pdf) (this one written by David Fleming and myself), in which we argue that a number of important misunderstandings are contained in the study, and that DEFRA’s consequent decision to delay a full feasibility study into the TEQs concept is ill-advised.

TEQs is the only realistic and effective way I see of enabling the necessary national emissions reductions at the same time as addressing the challenges of Peak Oil, so this could hardly be more important.

Parliamentary TEQs talk, and an interesting conversation…

by Shaun Chamberlin on May 16th, 2008

House of Commons

On Tuesday I spoke on TEQs at the House of Commons to a joint meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Peak Oil and Gas (APPGOPO) and the All Party Parliamentary Group on Climate Change.

An audio recording of my presentation, and those of my co-speakers – Rob Hopkins of Transition Towns and Simon Snowden of Liverpool University’s Oil Depletion Impact Group – can be found on the APPGOPO website, along with our slides.

My personal highlight was Simon Snowden’s comment on so-called ‘silver bullet’ solutions to peak oil and climate change:

“Those familiar with their mythology will recall that silver bullets are used for killing werewolves. Werewolves do not exist. So silver bullets are both expensive and bloody useless!” Read more »

London Mayoral elections – vote Ken.

by Shaun Chamberlin on April 30th, 2008

Ken Livingstone
Vote for Ken Livingstone – the future of our world may depend on it.

Having worked with the Energy and Climate Change teams at City Hall it’s clear that they’re desperate for Ken to win another term, although for obvious reasons they won’t say it openly. Love him or loathe him, he’s one of very few politicians treating climate change with the ultimate seriousness it deserves. Read more »

TEQs discussion on Newsnight

by Shaun Chamberlin on March 11th, 2008


There was an interesting discussion on Newsnight last night regarding green taxation. The programme can be seen free-of-charge for the next 6 days through the BBC iPlayer The full feature is no longer available online, but part of it can be seen in the video embedded above, starting at around the 7 minute mark. The remainder is summarised below.

The three guests for the discussion were Sian Berry, Green Party London Mayoral candidate; Stephen Hale, Director of the Green Alliance; and Kenneth Clarke, former Conservative Chancellor of the Exchequer. TEQs (or Personal Carbon Quotas as they were termed) were not explicitly up for debate, but they were raised by Tim Yeo, Chairman of Parliament’s Environmental Audit Committee, in a pre-recorded video segment, and endorsed by Sian Berry. Read more »

‘Climate Change – The Solutions’ event

by Shaun Chamberlin on November 14th, 2007

Climate Change - The Solutions

Last night was an exciting one for me, as an event that I dreamt up actually came to fruition. I have been feeling for a while that the public mood has moved on – virtually everyone is now aware of the challenge of climate change, but very few people actually feel like they know what they should do about it.

Indeed, I was in a similar position a couple of years ago, and it took me about a year’s research before I felt I had found the initiatives which could effectively deal with the nature of the challenges we face.

As a consequence, most people are just left with the nagging uncomfortable feeling of an unresolved – and seemingly irresolvable – issue, which probably only makes them less likely to want to learn more about the area. Read more »