Climate deniers and Friends of the Earth are both wrong

Dan Box
Denying the science of climate change is ill-informed, but then so is misreading a report to claim that the entire carbon market is flawed...

Oh my. I recently wrote about the European carbon market. A good thing, I said. Not working as well as it might. Could do with a shove.

All fairly uncontroversial opinions, I thought. I wasn't expecting the pile of bile delivered in response.

This is my favourite:

'Whatever global warming has occurred since the close of the Little Ice Age (circa 1850) has emphatically NOT been anthropogenic, particularly NOT as the result of the combustion of fossil fuels... and therefore to hell with your malevolent schemes to plunder and beggar your neighbors. Have a nice day.'

That's nice isn't it? 'Have a nice day'. Even while beggaring my neighbours I do like to be polite.

But there is a real argument to be had over what I said about the carbon market. The day I sent in my article, the Government's Environmental Audit Committee released a report saying the system was 'failing' as the carbon price flat-lined.

A helpful lady from Friends of the Earth tells me the report is 'another nail in the coffin' of the carbon market.

Except that it's not. Read it, and you find, quoted in testimony to the committee, Professor Michael Grubb, chief economist for the Carbon Trust, saying: “first and foremost, the system has seized the attention of top management and one hears very much climate change discussed at board level compared with previously when it was largely ignored.”

Far from being dead and buried, the report argues that carbon trading just needs a jolt to get it up and kicking its heels (I paraphrase). Indeed, it says that 'the Government is right to support emissions trading, and is to be commended for promoting it internationally'.

The main problem is the flat-lining carbon price, currently about €13.2 per tonne. One way to sort that out, the committee suggests, is to introduce a higher minimum price – effectively a carbon tax.

This is a very good idea. By hitting businesses harder in the hip pocket, you give them more reason to cut their emissions to save cash, It also provides guaranteed income for those green-tech firms looking to make money by providing alternatives to fossil fuels.

In fact, I like the idea so much that I'd like to see it introduced before the next, most likely Tory, Government, whose prospective MPs apparently rate climate change as their lowest priority, below providing 'more help with marriage'.

Failing that, here is an election pitch for any MP brave enough to take it on: 'a minimum carbon price is a tax by another name, and I like it. Have a nice day.'

Shell in trouble (again)

A legal battle between the oil giant Shell and four Nigerians who claim they lost their livelihoods when oil leaking from pipelines contaminated their farms and fishing ponds has been adjourned until the summer. Shell, which was due to have its response to their claims before the court by the end of this week, will not however be feeling much relief.

Personal contact details for over 170,000 Shell employees and contractors have just been emailed to various environmental and human rights campaign groups, apparently by disaffected Shell staff calling for a 'peaceful corporate revolution' at the company. The database was accompanied by a 170-page manifesto, claiming it was the work of '116 concerned employees of Shell Oil dispersed throughout the USA, UK and the Netherlands', to highlight the damage allegedly done by the company in … Nigeria.

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