Monday, April 05, 2010

Low carbon economy

Britain has just got the latest climate change taxes passed, this time hitting businesses with phenomenal charges simply for using energy. The reason, to lower the UKs carbon emissions by 80% by 2050.

This makes me wonder how many people affected by this (everyone, it's happening worldwide) know what a low carbon economy means in practice?

1) Low carbon means low industry. That means cutting back on our industrial usage, in this case 80%. That seems self evident to me.

2) Taxing local industries has two immediate results. One is the taxes have to be recouped. Companies must make a profit, so will simply pass on the tax to the end user. Of course every country without such penalties will not include the charge so unless import controls are used (out of fashion currently) people will simply buy from abroad, causing local firms to go out of business. If all companies worldwide could be taxed the same then the costs would be passed on worldwide and first the public would go broke followed by the businesses. You can't get a quart out of a pint pot.

3) The increase in energy charges will have two consequences. If driving becomes too expensive it will eventually become limited to the rich. If home energy becomes more expensive (as it has) people have to spend less on everything else or freeze.

4) If you do reduce CO2 by 80% most power would be generated by nuclear. Like it or hate it, Philip Stott's estimate of 30 year's worth of uranium before that runs out (as it is destroyed in the process) won't get us far beyond 2050. All the coal lying underground will be available but gradually being outlawed.

5) If people prefer to live in pre industrial communities as a few of our local protestors do already, the population is now many times higher than it was a few hundred years ago. Sustaining such numbers by growing their own food and supplying their own fuel from wood and rubbish is hardly going to be viable. And what would they do with all the empty factories and make what they would have made without them?

6) The actual figures for what is termed alternative energy are tens of times the price of conventional at a fraction of the efficiency. The sun rarely shines, the wind rarely blows at just the right speed, and the amount of water required for wave power is restricted to very few sites. There may be alternatives to compare with what we have one day, but not today or for many years.

7) In the short and medium term increased fuel prices will gradually raise transport costs of all types making holidays, private cars and ultimately all transport unviable for all but the richest.

In the Soviet Union there were rich people, the money went to the Communist Party hierarchy. Of course if you remove huge amounts of money at one end it has to go somewhere. The rest of us will be gradually be deprived of more and more home comforts and cash until we will be living at subsistence levels. And even the government's own advisors expect power to be cut off for part of the week as there won't be enough legal fuel to run the power grid. I very much doubt more than a handful of the enthusiasts actually want to live like this, so why are they all pushing governments to make that happen? Do they really not understand the consequences?

No comments: