Capitalist ideology – according to which the market can resolve all problems
– has, in these last few days, reached the apex of the absurd. We have learned,
thanks to Green Euro-deputy Claude Turmes, that European Commission President
JosÃ© Manuel Barroso has been blocking a proposed energy-efficiency action
plan. This text is supposed to compel member states to reduce their energy consumption
by 20 percent and to propose specific measures to attain that objective. Reducing
energy consumption is the best way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The reason for this obstruction by the Commission? The implementation of energy
efficiency would bear on carbon market prices. Consequently, there would be
fewer “emission rights” on the market. Consequently, their price would
drop. Now the European Commission – with Member State approval – has based its
fights against climate change on the emissions market.
So they have just rejected the most efficient solution in favor of … a method
that has not yet really proven itself. Implemented since 2005, it moves painfully
forward, given the drop in prices evading VAT. At this time, the price for a
ton of CO2 is 15 Euros – below the energy tax French consumers are going to
pay. In fact, the rules of the emissions market’s operation, the result of a
compromise with the industries it affects, are too lax: in consequence, the
price that develops remains too low to stimulate a rapid reduction in emissions.
Moreover, by means of another type of market, the so-called “mechanism
for clean development,” the European Union means to avoid realizing a big
part of its reduction commitment. Indeed, I would need to write ten articles
like this one to comprehensively explain how this whole system works. The carbon
market is fractionally simpler than the derivatives market, if you see what
The basic problem is that it amounts to confiding management of the fight against
climate change to the financial industry. The latter has, as we know, caused
the current crisis and demonstrated its ability to escape all government control.
Do you trust Goldman Sachs to act in the interests of humanity in the carbon
market? In reality, as long as government – which in principle represents the
public interest – has not resumed control over the financial system, we cannot
hand over responsibility for the fight against climate change to the market.
In the short term, one thing is clear: the European Union must settle on true
energy conservation objectives. If it gives that up, it will lose all credibility
with respect to climate change, and, above all, the principal means to confront
Translation: Truthout French language editor
In Spite of Strong Growth, the Country at Present Remains a Model of Energy Sobriety
Monday 02 November 2009
And what if India were a model of energy efficiency? Received wisdom has it
that developing countries waste their energy in the absence of adequate technologies,
while developed countries supposedly use energy more efficiently. A study by
the Indian firm Prayas, presented during the conference of the International
Federation of Environmental Journalists (FIJE) in Delhi on October 28, shows
that’s not the case at all.
Entitled, “An Overview of Indian Energy Trends,” it reveals that
between 1990 and 2005 the country’s GDP increased 2.3 times, but its energy
consumption rose 1.9 times. Moreover, energy intensity (energy consumption related
to production) is much less than China’s, but also less than the United States’
and comes close to the European level.
A good part of this performance may be explained by the price of electricity
to industry – among the highest in the world. In transportation also, India
demonstrates great efficiency: India’s totalconsumption of gas and diesel in
2005 was less than the simple increase in consumption in China and the United
States between 1990 and 2005. The high price of fuel plays a significant role,
but so does the density of Indian cities, which limits the length of trips.
For domestic energy uses, there is better energy intensity by income level
than in the United States. That may be explained by the significant use of biomass,
but also by the very widespread vegetarian diet, which limits cooking needs:
on average, an Indian consumes one twenty-fifth as much meat as an American.
However, India has not succeeded in eliminating poverty. Economic growth has
benefited the upper and middle classes primarily, and 40 percent of the population
does not have access to electricity.
Solar energy and natural gas seem to be the way of the future, but also adoption
of supercritical coal-combustion technology (which improves yield and reduces
polluting emissions), as well as reduction of energy losses in the grids.
Translation: Truthout French language editor