Carbon Emission Cost Tumbles

The climate policy in the European Union largely centres around the ETS (Emission Trading Scheme) which attempts to limit the emissions produced by industry.  Each unit of carbon dioxide (a tonne) is allocated a price via a permit scheme, basically permission to emit that unit.  The idea being that a market based trading system would give companies an incentive to reduce their emissions especially when the costs of the permits were high.

They have been high previously, in fact the record cost was more than 32 Euros, however this month the cost has plummeted to about 4 Euros.  The problems are basically similar to the issues that were faced when the scheme was first started – there are two many permits.  Industries have lobbied governments so effectively  that the there has been serious oversupply in the market of these carbon permits.

The latest free fall has begun because a proposal to limit these permits was defeated in the European Parliament.  As it stands 900million more permits are scheduled to be released into the market which obviously sent the price into a downward spiral.  Analysts believe that any price below 20 Euros gives a very low incentive to reduce their carbon emissions.

At this price it is simply not worth companies investing in technology and systems to reduce their carbon footprint.  Buying the permits to produce more CO2 is a much cheaper and simpler option.  In a market driven system like the ETS then the cheapest option is the one normally selected.

The overall aim and structure of the ETS is sound however the over supply of permits is simply making the system ineffective.  However different countries have different agendas to follow and this effects the ETS. For example get yourself a Polish IP address – see here and monitor how the issue is covered in Poland a country heavily dependent on fossil fuels and heavy industry.  These companies have a huge economic incentive to keep the costs of the permits low.

Reference – TVN Player

The Battle of Climate Change

For most of us the question of climate change is pretty straight forward, the earth is getting warmer and we are causing it.  But there are people who would rather the issue be a little bit more uncertain.  Yesterday a UK Newspaper called the Independent ran a story revealing that there are those who secretly fund organisations and people who promote this uncertainty – Climate Science Attacks.

Apparently a secret organisation exists called the Donors Trust based in Alexandria, Virginia.  This group is funelling millions of dollars into the counter claims of climate change doubters.  Most of the wealthy backers of this group are anonymous, but an audit trail has led back to one of it’s biggest supporters- the American billionaire Charles Koch.  Koch Industries you will probably not be surprised to hear is a large oil, gas and chemicals conglomerate from Kansas.  In Australia, climate change and the economy is always on the political agenda and it’s worth keeping an eye on the media reports here, ABC Iview is the easiest way to get access.

Just for clarification that’s a big fossil fuel company donating money to sponsor scepticism about global warming.    This is not small amounts of money either, it’s the sort of cash that gets you onto the big stage.  A researcher in Philidelphia estimated that nearly half a billion dollars has been donated in the last ten years specifically to undermine climate change science.

So no vested interests there at all and I suspect we can all work out where the rest of the sponsors are from.  It is perhaps worth checking out the UK Newspapers and media about this story as it develops.  Normally the BBC is great at covering environmental issues and scandals like this – watch for Panorama and Newsnight for any stories.  Those outside Britain can access them by using a UK based proxy server to change their IP address as explained on this site –  It’s quite a simple process if you use the recommended software and only takes a minute or two to access media sites anywhere on the planet, essential if you want to get a proper world view of climate change news.

Specialization in Schools

a classic college campusDo We Really Want More Specialists?

It’s been an interesting debate here to be sure, here is what I see happening with CIPEC.

In academics, we are rewarding those of us who are great specialists.  That’s in direct competition with most industries and really life in general where people tend to greatly specialize.  Can your accountant run an 8 minute mile? Can your chiropractor tell you the general time period of the Ming Dynasty?

It’s interesting that as academics on the high school level has always preferred students who are good at everything and not necessarily special at any one thing, college has always offered a way for someone with a narrow focus to find themselves.  I personally, would hate for that to change over the coming years.

I think as we’re continually stressed to our breaking point as a society, we need to focus even more on having people willing to spend their life fixing these complex issues.

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