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

The Dangers of Carbon Pricing, and the Canny Way Forward

by Shaun Chamberlin on May 29th, 2015

CO2 roadsign

Lately we’ve seen the president of the World Bank and ‘business leaders from the very carbon-intensive industries’ pushing for carbon pricing (taxes or ‘carbon trading’ schemes). This is intended to demonstrate their deep change of heart and determination to start seriously addressing climate change, but to my eyes it is a deeply cynical, pernicious attempt to channel the passion of those deeply-committed to action on climate change into mechanisms that will only maintain the suicidal status quo.

Which is why I poured all my experience of ten years’ work on the topic into this peer-reviewed academic paper, which I believe demolishes the case for carbon taxes or carbon trading schemes as the way forward, and shows a clear, well-researched alternative (though it took almost as much effort as writing my book!).
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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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The final word – Al Gore debates climate sceptic Monckton

by Shaun Chamberlin on November 25th, 2009

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 »

The climate science translation guide

by Shaun Chamberlin on September 3rd, 2008

Age Of Stupid Climate-o-meter

We are all familiar with the concept of climate change, and the need for reduced carbon emissions, but really getting a handle on the scale of the problem can be difficult, thanks to all the confusing terminology.

I looked all over the web for a straightforward comprehensive explanation of terms like Global Warming Potential (GWP) and the different meanings of CO2equivalent but I couldn’t find it, so eventually I decided to spend some of my time (and the time of many helpful friends and colleagues) on creating one.

I didn’t count on quite how intricate the underlying science is (it became ever clearer to me why there is so much confusion in this area), so the process took some considerable time, but I believe that this post is now something that many will find useful. It has been checked for accuracy by qualified experts. Read more »

Concentrating Solar thermal Power (CSP) – a step in the right direction, but no panacea

by Shaun Chamberlin on May 19th, 2008

CSP parabolic trough

As I mentioned in my earlier post, last week I met Polly Higgins, The Lazy Environmentalist. She specialises in CSP, and informed me that we may now be seeing serious political movement towards an EU-MENA supergrid bringing CSP-generated electricity to Europe from the deserts of North Africa and the Middle East.

For those not familiar with the concept, CSP is not about photovoltaic solar panels, but rather the simple use of mirrors to focus solar heat on pipes filled with water. This generates steam which turns turbines to generate electricity. It is a simple low-tech concept that has been operating a 165 MW power plant in California for over 20 years.

It has been calculated that, if it was covered with CSP plants, an area of hot desert of about 254 km x 254 km — less than 1% of the total area of such deserts — would produce as much electricity as is currently consumed by the whole world.

An area measuring 110 km x 110 km, a small fraction of the area of desert in North Africa and the Middle East, would produce the same amount of electricity as the European Union consumed in 2004. This is illustrated graphically below the cut.

So this political movement towards a CSP supergrid is a very significant development, and, I think, a positive one. Read more »