Follow the money - do we need a Carbon Tax - Prof Dieter Helm, Donnachadh Mccarthy, Julian Hawkins and Dinesh Dhamija
Tue 30th June 2020 GLD Vision 2020 Conference
Video from Oxford: Prof Dieter Helm
Independent Columnist : Donnachadh Mccarthy
GLD member: Julian Hawkins
Co-Host: Former MEP Dinesh Dhamija
edited by George and Stewart Reddaway
Lloydie: So please welcome the hardest working conference man that there possibly could be.
Please welcome Keith Melton to the conference stage; there he is.
Keith: Hello again folks
Lloydie: I will leave things in your very capable and, after this number of sessions, very seasoned hands.
Keith: Okay, seasoned I may be, whether it's with pepper or oregano I can't tell you.
Okay, this session is all about the money, and we're going to take a number of different lines about this; we're going to be talking about the polluter pays, we're going to be talking about carbon tax, and we're going to be talking about subsidies and so on. And I would like to welcome first of all my co-chair Dinesh, who I think is in the audience, and I'm going to get him to come on board if Caron's pressing the right button; there we go, and just tell us a little tiny bit about himself, and we're sharing the chairing arrangements this evening Dinesh; so welcome to your first session, I think, in the GLD conference.
Dinesh: Thank you very much Keith.
I will press on with where I'm from.
I've got a business background I founded ebookers.com, which was the first internet travel company in the UK and Europe, and when it got to sales of a billion dollars in five years I sold it.
I then went into charity for ten years, and in the last five years I joined the LibDems, and I was an MEP for London in Brussels until February; that's a short potted history about most of my achievements.
Well I've gone back now into business, and I'm doing a solar farm in Romania, which is quite large; it's 900 acres just to produce green energy.
Keith: Good, so we've got an environmental activist in our midst, that's excellent.
Okay, I think we're probably going to be going straight back to the audience because in the session this evening the first speaker is going to be talking to us via a short film that he arranged specially for us.
Professor Dieter Helm from Oxford was unable to be with us this evening; his holiday arrangements didn't allow him to be with us this evening but he did promise to record something especially for us.
So we're going to listen first of all to Dieter Helm's views about Polluter Pays and so on, and then we're going to be calling Julian Hawkins.
( Net zero is one of the most ambitious ... )
Caron: Whenever you're ready, Keith.
Sorry I jumped the gun there;
Keith: That's right, I think we're ready to go Caron, so just as I say in the film industry, roll them. I think. Let's do that.
Dieter Helm: There aren't any projects that any government has embarked upon, short of a war, that involve the transformation of an overwhelmingly carbon-based economy into one that relies on non-carbon sources, and stops emissions of carbon from the soils, from the peat bogs, from the damage to the vegetation, and so on.
So it's an enormous task, and the UK government has declared unilaterally that it will achieve net-zero, on a UK territorial carbon production basis.
Now that is extraordinarily ambitious, but there's a further claim that's made for this net zero target which conditions how we might think about the kind of policies we need to achieve the ambition, in particular, the role of carbon pricing and Polluter Pays and that's this;
Caron: It is, I believe it's a Zoom conflict, not liking to talk too quick-time on my computer, because everything until now has been streamed off the internet.
So, yeah, I'm gonna see if I can fix that for you guys, but let's just move on on this occasion.
Keith: Right Julian, if you want to release your camera and release your video, I will ask you to introduce yourself briefly, and tell us what you have to tell us.
Julian: Right, thank you; first of all, one thing I didn't prepare was a presentation about me; I was only going to speak about carbon tax, but... I've been a member of the LibDems and its predecessor parties for nearly 40 years I think. I've been interested in environmental politics since back in the late 70s when I used to pick up the bread for the weekly session at the university.
I'm married, two kids who've both grown up and left home, worked in the IT sector for 40 years; I don't know if there's much else to say really; oh and I was a local councillor from 1990 to 1998, even holding the exalted position of leader of the opposition on Lewisham council, though given that there were only two of us at the time, that didn't involve a great deal of power and responsibility.
Anyway I digress; hello, I'm here to support a policy motion for a carbon tax and dividend; now as we all know, climate change is a critical threat; we can limit the damage by reducing Greenhouse Gas emissions quickly, and there are many ways to do this.
But the change is happening far too slowly, even in countries that have committed to reduce emissions, so how can we motivate people and organizations to act in good time and, by the way it does occur to me that a lot of what I'm saying may well duplicate what the other speakers are saying, and apologies for that.
Okay one way is to make Greenhouse Gas emitters pay for the impact of their emissions through a carbon tax; this is widely regarded by economists as the most cost effective way to motivate emission reductions, using market forces to incentivise emitters to change their behavior.
Let's start with my view of our objectives.
I believe we should aim to, first, reduce UK consumption emissions quickly and efficiently; secondly, incentivise our trading partners to reduce their emissions; third, transition the UK to a resilient sustainable economy, and, finally, set an example that will encourage other countries; now there's two points I want to make on these objectives; we do need to target Consumption emissions which take account of imports and exports, not just Territorial emissions as per the existing UK target for net zero by 2050.
We must not just move emissions offshore to hit a target; also, we do need to minimise adverse media comment; Greenhouse Gas deniers and delayers are looking for propaganda material, and we should not give them free ammunition.
So let's talk about market forces.
This is not about Laissez Faire economics, the "free markets" loved by many Tories. This is about genuinely fair competitive markets; of course, no truly perfect market exists, but some fruit and vegetable markets come quite close to perfect competition.
There is some theoretical analyses which show that a perfectly competitive market can be the most efficient way of allocating resources, and these markets have a number of requirements, which include many buyers and sellers, so that there are no monopolies or cartels; perfect information on prices; and no externalities - that's the technical term for benefits and costs that affect third parties to a transaction.
Greenhouse Gas emissions are a negative externality which gives the emitters a free ride, but harms everyone else.
By taxing carbon we make them pay, encouraging emission reductions across the whole economy.
The tax would be technology-neutral; it doesn't try to pick winners, so it encourages corporations to use the most cost effective methods.
Let's start simple; we propose an initial tax on fossil fuel extraction and imports at a moderate rate of 25 pounds per tonne of carbon dioxide, increasing over time; changes in tax rates would be announced well in advance, so that people can plan for them.
Starting with fossil fuels, it should be relatively quick and easy, as it mainly involves a few large companies dealing with a limited range of products that are already monitored.
They will need to declare the types, amounts and carbon contents of fuel to the tax authority, and pay the tax; this should change price sensitive purchasing decisions almost immediately; it should also start to influence long-term investment decisions as investors adjust their plans for the cost impact over project asset lifetimes.
Now let's consider an interesting example: making steel.
There are two main ways to do this; a traditional blast furnace uses high grade coal to melt the ore and reduce it to iron, which is then purified and converted to steel; this releases a lot of CO2.
Alternatively, an electric arc furnace uses power from the national grid to melt down scrap metal; now this releases very little CO2 directly, but some will have been emitted while generating the electricity.
A carbon tax will raise the price of steel from both, but more from the blast furnace, because it uses so much coal.
This should encourage using scrap metal instead of ore, and also buying electricity from low-carbon sources.
The proposal includes a carbon dividend.
Now it's sometimes claimed that a carbon tax will affect the poor more than the rich, because some people on low incomes spend a lot on domestic heating; this potential problem is easily avoided, because the tax raises revenue that can be paid back to all UK residents as a dividend on an equal-per- head basis, making the policy tax-neutral; people with a below average total carbon footprint should see total price rises which are less than their dividend.
This would turn the proposed tax into a useful anti-poverty measure.
It also makes this much easier to sell.
One of the best known carbon taxes is in British Columbia; it has become relatively popular, because it returns much of the revenue raised to the people.
A carbon tax will affect cross-border trade in goods and services; carbon leakage occurs when actions taken to reduce emissions in one country lead to increases elsewhere.
Consequences can include industries relocating to countries without carbon taxes, and people switching to imported goods, because they are now cheaper.
So we need to reduce global emissions, not just move them around.
One solution to this is border carbon taxes, taxing imported goods based on their embedded emissions.
These are the emissions from manufacturing and distributing these goods up to the point of import.
All imports could be taxed, but it would be easier to target high energy products such as steel; we should take account of any carbon tax paid in the exporting country this is important for the UK because we import so much; other reasons for border taxes include avoiding damage to our economy, not giving polluters an unfair advantage, and not favoring imports over domestic production, nor appearing to do so; after all we don't want to give people propaganda that they can use against us.
We will need to consider international agreements, such as the World Trade Organization rules.
We should cooperate with interested governments, but also be willing to act unilaterally.
Any impact on trade can be mitigated by harmonising tax mechanics, and also by suitable international standards and systems.
Now some sectors will need careful handling - (sensitive handling) - to minimise adverse impact when the tax is implemented, and to avoid stirring up needless hostility.
For example, we might adjust fuel duty to leave the price of petrol unchanged initially.
Also some industries facing foreign competition may need special arrangements to compete on equal terms; however any concessions should be kept under review.
The aviation sector represents about two and a half percent of global emissions; it needs to be taxed fairly to avoid giving mainly well-off passengers a subsidised ride; however aviation taxes are limited by international agreement. We may need to find a proxy, such as a flight tax based on take-off weight and distance flown.
Premium class seats increase emissions per passenger, because they displace multiple economy seats.
Also, any unilateral tax must not just shift travellers to longer routes that emit more CO2; we will need cooperation, with at least the EU, to prevent people from re-routing their journeys via the hub airport with the lowest carbon tax.
Several other taxes and subsidies affect UK energy prices now, including the EU's Emission Trading System, fuel duty, and tax breaks on North Sea oil and gas.
We're aiming for an economy that makes sensible decisions based on their consequences, so we should remove existing schemes when they are no longer needed.
Let me give an example; biofuels sound like a good replacement for fossil fuels, because the plants should reabsorb the carbon emitted as they grow back; however, some biofuels are allegedly not produced from sustainably managed crops and forests; if so, the carbon emitted might not be reabsorbed for decades, if ever.
Also, some biofuels attract substantial subsidies; a carbon tax on fossil fuels alone, could give unsustainable biofuels an unfair price advantage; we'd avoid this by taxing them on the percentage of carbon that was not reabsorbed reasonably quickly; this would discourage unsustainable practices and might encourage genuinely sustainable biofuels.
More generally, a fair carbon tax on all fossil fuel should allow low emission fuels to compete on a level playing field, without subsidies.
Having said that, some new technologies, such as tidal wave power, may need initial subsidies, just as offshore wind was subsidised before the cost plummeted.
Also, Carbon Capture and Storage could be encouraged by refunding part of the tax paid, or based on the amount of carbon captured.
We should fix these and similar issues as we implement the tax.
This is one of many policies - it's not a universal solution.
I'm quite looking forward to hearing what the next speaker is going to say, which I think is going to touch some of these issues.
Finally, I may be duplicating what is being said by somebody else, but if you want to support the motion you could sign it by sending your name, email address, libDem membership number and local party, to the email at the top of the motion text before noon tomorrow.
Thank you all for listening and I look forward to questions when the time comes.
Hi Julian and audience; thank you very much for that description of what the contents are, and the examples you gave, which highlight the sort of things that are needed to be done in order to introduce a carbon tax and maybe some of the problems as well.
I'm not sure where the whole thing can be seen at the moment.
Is there a link in the chat, Julian, as to where this can be seen if people want to go and read it now?
Julian: It is linked from the main page on this session and I think I can dig the link out and paste it on the chat if people okay it, I think it would be useful if people want to see it and ask specific questions.
I think we are going to have a chance during the session to talk about this in a little bit of detail.
Keith: Certainly after the session there's an option for us to go into the meeting hall and discuss it rather less formally; and if people want to read it they they can do so; hopefully that's going to appear in chat very soon.
Thank you Julian for that. Julian and I are going to be dumped back into the audience, because I think Caron has worked out how to play us the video of Professor Helm, and if it works okay, keep your fingers crossed, if it works okay, we'll see you in about a quarter an hour.
Otherwise we might see you fairly quickly and have to explain why it's not working again.
Caron, over to you; that was that was ceremonies (????) wasn't it? Right, let's try this one more time.
Dieter: Net zero is one of the most ambitious projects that any government has embarked upon short of a war; it involves the transformation of an overwhelmingly carbon-based economy into one that relies on non-carbon sources, and stops emissions of carbon from the soils, from the peat bogs, from the damage the vegetation (?) and so on.
So it's an enormous task, and the government has declared unilaterally that it will achieve net zero on a UK Territorial carbon production basis.
Now that is extraordinarily ambitious, but there's a further claim that's made for this net zero target which conditions how we might think about the kind of policies we need to achieve the ambition, in particular the roles of carbon pricing and polluter pays, and that's this: that if you focus on carbon Territorial production of emissions, that's the emissions inside the UK, it's a mistake to think that therefore you're going to necessarily reduce climate change by reducing those emissions.
All that matters in climate change terms, is the concentration of carbon in the atmosphere - how many parts per million the emissions themselves are contributing to the increase of that stock.
But, of course, sequestration is going on all the time in the natural environment; if we want to just get down our emissions domestically here then perhaps the fastest route to do it is to close down the rest of British carbon-intensive industry; so, you know, the Grangemouth petrochemical plant in Scotland, close that; close British Steel; hope that Brexit finishes off the car industry.
In all these cases if we just close these industries down and imported the stuff instead, our emissions will go down and we will be getting on with getting towards our net- zero Territorial carbon production target; but of course in all those steps we would make climate change worse, because the emissions associated with importing the stuff from places like China would almost certainly add up to a greater carbon footprint than the one caused by producing the stuff here.
So it's just not true as the climate change committee claimed that, to quote, when we get to zero we will no longer be causing climate change.
If only; we're not even going to get to zero anyway.
There's no point in getting to zero - it's net zero - but we won't stop causing climate change the result.
So what do we do if we genuinely want to address climate change; what would be the unilateral action we would take; well it's got to be that we treat all our carbon consumption on the same basis, because, if we don't, if we just treat home production on one basis and imports on another; we'll carry on doing what's been going on since 1990.
Not just for the UK, but for the whole of the EU.
So, as the EU as a whole, and when it included us, has been reducing its emissions quite remarkably; at the same time every single year the parts per million in the atmosphere of carbon have gone up by two-fold; it's now 417 - and that includes through to May this year - and therefore the lockdowns as well, so it won't do.
We have to actually reduce those carbon parts per million in the atmosphere, and we have to do it in a way which is consistent; and we have to focus on those bits of the economy where we can get those reductions as fast, as quickly, and, yes, as cheaply, as possible, because it's a complete delusion to think you could do a decarbonization like this, and everyone say it was going so well, so we'll be better off.
It's like the notion that we've kind of decoupled economic growth from carbon emissions; just look at the lockdowns down go.
I am going to have to bring oil companies in as horrible polluters; it's business that's doing all the damage and if only we can reform business it'll all be fine; well, business exists to provide the stuff for you and me, and in my new net-zero book, which comes out very shortly, I ask my readers to engage in a little thought experiment; and I ask you to do so now.
In listening to this presentation, I'd like you to write down your carbon budget; what I'd like you to do is, when you get up in the morning, for each of the activities you're engaged in have a guess whether they involve carbon, and almost all of them will; and by how much, just roughly.
So get up in the morning, go to the loo, use the carbon intensive loo paper, flush the loo using energy, and then go to breakfast and use all that palm oil that goes into the products that you'll almost certainly be consuming, probably in your shampoo as well; and then all the packaging etc, and that's before you get in the car and go to work; or even use public transport; and of course that's not taking into account that you might go on a holiday and emit loads of stuff when you use aviation.
What you'll discover when you do this is not some spurious accuracy of precisely what your carbon footprint is, but you'll discover that virtually everything you do and therefore virtually every firm you deal with, every company, is involved in carbon intensive stuff.
You know the oil companies don't just make oil for you to use in all their products, and to use in fuel and aviation, they make all the energy products which go into the manufactured sector and the gas too which goes into those products on your table, and through in your carbon diary.
So if you take this seriously, if you believe that you and I are the ultimate polluters, it's our consumption that counts.
Then the obvious thing to do is to make the polluter pay; and that's you and me, and that's what's so politically difficult.
It's not some abstract business somewhere, it's our lifestyles, and what we do and what's the right way of doing that; well it's a perfectly good principle at the heart of any environmental policy which is that, basically, the polluter should pay.
We should pay for the damage we do and that should encourage us to use less damaging commodities and services, and so on, rather than more.
If we don't pay, then we'll over-consume and that's what climate change is - it's the over- consumption of carbon intensive goods; and of course not taking proper care of sequestration.
So I'm not saying a carbon tax (a carbon charge) is the be all and end all of solving climate change, but I am saying that if you don't make the polluters pay, if you don't make us face up to the consequences of what we're doing to our planet, you won't get very far; and I would go on to the further claim that almost any other method you use instead of carbon pricing, and of course there'll be things you'll use as well as carbon pricing, will be more expensive, more painful, and more difficult, and therefore promote more resistance amongst the electorate - the population - for obvious and good reasons, because it matters what the distribution of income is, and how poorer people are treated with respect on this, as opposed to richer people; but paying the price is of the essence.
Now there are two special further considerations for carbon pricing to add to this.
The first one is that we apply the same carbon price to imports as we do to domestic production; it's an absolute nonsense that people say you can't calculate precisely what the carbon is in everything we import, as if you can calculate it with everything we consume domestically; this is about being roughly right rather than perfectly wrong.
And there are a small number of big commodities which comprise most of the carbon we import.
So we do that, and then we don't discriminate between British Steel and some Chinese steel firm on the Chinese east coast, we don't distinguish between Grangemouth's petrochemicals and petrochemicals produced in America, or Saudi Arabia, or elsewhere; it's a level playing field.
We get that right, and fair trade is trade where all the pollution is taken into account to create a level sustainable platform upon which we can all compete.
Now, as another advantage, if you're China and you're sending the stuff to here in the UK, and there's a carbon border tax, you think why am I paying this money to the British government; well you don't need to.
You could have a carbon tax yourself, because the only people to whom the carbon tax will apply at the border are those that don't have a domestic carbon price.
Now think how radical that is; this incentivises the Chinese, and loads of other countries, to tax themselves to pay the money to their own governments, rather than for the British government to tax, and pay it to us.
This is a vastly superior way, to generalise globally carbon prices gradually, but globalizing as opposed to top-down agreements of the sort that we have in the Paris Agreement.
A good idea, nothing against Paris per-se, but it hasn't made any significant difference to climate change; and neither did Kyoto; neither did Copenhagen.
And that's why there is not a single blip in the increase in carbon concentration in the atmosphere since 1990.
we have wasted 30 years, and we need to have something new.
But there's one final point about the carbon price which is good too.
We don't just want to apply it to electricity and energy, we want to apply it to transport, and we want to apply it to agriculture.
Transport is a bigger source of emissions than electricity is in this country; it's huge and, what's more, the thing about transport is it hasn't changed since 1990 we've made no progress at all.
All those vans delivering all the stuff during the lockdown; well, they've contributed over the last four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten years, a lot to increasing emissions from transport, even where we've made some progress elsewhere; and it's even more important in transport to do this, to encourage the switch to electric vehicles as opposed to fossil fuel powered vehicles, and, recalling that the coronavirus episode, or rather not the coronavirus but the lockdown of course, the switch from public transport to private transport; so it has to be applied to transport, and then when that delivery comes to your door, the carbon tax will be included in the delivery charge; and then you'll think quite hard about whether you want to go and collect or have delivered; and companies doing the delivering will think quite hard about how they use their systems to minimize their carbon tax.
Apply, at this carbon price, also to agriculture, and this is really important because agriculture is only 0.6 percent of the economy, and it's 11% of the emissions before you add in the unmeasured, or imperfectly measured, emissions from the leakage of carbon from the soil, and from the peat bogs; and not only that can we start to tackle agriculture, and we can't do net zero without tackling agriculture, we can't do net zero without tackling transport, but we can start to pay farmers public money for public goods, to put the carbon back in the soil which we've lost, and the soils contain roughly four times as much carbon as the atmosphere, so you kind of get the picture.
So a carbon price would make you and me, the polluters, pay.
It would apply to imports as well as domestic production, and therefore we could be certain, as we move towards net zero, we will be making a contribution to reducing global climate change.
It would encourage other countries around the world to adopt their own carbon price to prevent them having to pay the money to the British government, and it will provide a mechanism for consistency, so we find the cheapest ways of reducing emissions across transport, agriculture, as well as the energy sector.
So what's not to like about that? And the answer is pretty straightforward; what people don't like about it, why politicians won't face up to this opportunity, is because people don't want to be told that it's going to cost them a lot to adjust to climate change.
Somehow we're told by the politicians, you know, renewables are cheaper than fossil fuels, you know it's a great growth opportunity, there's going to be no economic damage, you're going to be much wealthier if we decarbonise.
I wish it was true, but ask yourself an intuitive question; ask yourself, if you're required to change almost your entire way of consumption, from model one soaked in carbon, to model two with virtually no carbon, and to do that in the space of, what, 30 years.
It's like saying "you know it's great we can have a war, we're all going to be better off because we're going to invest loads and loads of money, and everyone's going to have full employment".
Well, the truth is, we're not better off; in your war, of course, we are much worse off; and the war is a bad thing.
Decarbonization's a good thing, but the naivety which goes with the idea that it's all cheap, this is just nonsense.
So politicians want to tell people "yeah decarbonise, and yeah, it ain't going to cost you nothing".
So no wonder the wider public is all in favor of decarbonization.
But you wait till they get the bills; then they're going to say "you never told us this, you never told us our electricity bill's going up, you never told us that the shopping basket is more expensive now".
And I believe that climate change is a fundamental challenge to civilization, to our human way of life, and, yes, to people directly, and that this is a real challenge.
And that the reason it exists, is because we're living beyond our environmental means; so if we, the polluters, aren't prepared to pay, let's be honest, we're not going to decarbonise.
But we have to pay, we have to decarbonise, we have to get within a sustainable standard of living, we have to stop living beyond our environmental means.
Tell people the truth, tell them it's going to be tough, but tell them that the cheapest way of doing it, the best way of doing it, is to have a carbon price at the core of what we're trying to achieve.
Then we might not waste the next 30 years; we might actually make some progress; and, if anything, please stop kidding ourselves we've been making progress for the last 30 years.
The fact is the concentration of carbon in the atmosphere just continues to go up, and up, and up, every single year since 1990.
So let's take it seriously; Let's have carbon consumption as the basis of net zero; Let's have carbon pricing as a core part of our instruments, and Let's try to use that to get global cooperation, and bring in the other sectors.
That way we've got a chance, and we ought to take it.
Thank you very much indeed.
Caron: Please show your appreciation in the chat for Dieter; although he couldn't be with us this evening, I think putting that together, just for us, was something that was really informative.
I will bring back onto the screen for you, Keith and Dinesh.
Keith: Thank you Caron for doing that; thank you for bringing Dinesh back as well.
Let me just ask Dinesh very quickly to say, what do you think of the show so far?
And then we'll bring Donnachadh on to give his talk.
What's your reaction so far?
Dinesh: Thank you. I just wanted to mention, um, I mean we need a global effort; of course we can't influence the globe, we can only influence our own country, but I just wanted to give you some facts about, for example, India; it has 1.38 billion people, it has 550 million people who don't have electricity or running water, and it has just seven percent of the global footprint of carbon.
While the EU, which is 515 million people, emits nine percent.
Now if [India] got to the standards of the EU they would be emitting about 17 or 18 percent; so that is going to go sky high in terms of carbon particles around the world; and that's very important to understand; you need people to have running water and electricity in their homes; you can't say everyone's equal.
So third world country, I just gave you the example of India, the third world countries are all in the same boat; they have to get to a level.
The other thing, of course, is that because of government subsidies, electricity through wind and solar is now cheaper than fossil, so that's why I'm in this business, and that's why a lot of people are going into this business, to reduce fossil fuel plants making electricity.
It won't make a big difference, of course, but it will make some difference.
Those are my two points.
Keith: Okay, thank you, um, right we'll bear those in mind, and I think we're staying on stage and inviting Donnachadh Mccarthy to join us, Caron; and then at least uh Donnachadh will, now there's an audience as well; and here he comes; welcome Donnachadh to the online Green Liberal Democrat conference; and for those of you who don't know, Donnachadh came to the 2018 actual, real live, Green Liberal Democrat conference in Nottingham, so welcome back; really.
I'm going to let you introduce yourself, if you would be kind enough very briefly; and then launch into whatever it is that you want to share with us.
Donnachadh: Yeah, thank you very much, Kevin.
Thanks for the invitation to GLD.
I'm a former member of the executive of GLD, so I have that back in my past.
I'm a climate columnist for the Independent.
I'm a former member of the federal executive of the Liberal Democrats for seven years.
I was deputy chair for two years.
I'm the founder of Stockham cyclists and I'm a spokesperson for Extinction Rebellion, and I live in London's first carbon negative house.
I've been selling solar electricity to the grid since 1998, so I'm quite proud of that.
I want to talk about, I'm going to be contrarian for a change.
I disagree with the premise presented by Julian and Dieter, but not because I think carbon taxes are wrong.
I believe it's for two reasons; one is they're too slow, and secondly the amount of political opposition that they engender means that they cannot be implemented in time with the urgency that they have quite rightly pointed out; and that's my, that's the case I wish to make today.
So first of all I'll talk about the urgency that we're we're in; and just three quick points to make, three quite terrifying points, and I'll give you the least terrifying first; the IPPC said we have to cut carbon emissions by over 45% by 2030 - in 10 years.
That would involve unprecedented civilizational change for society to achieve that alone, and if we don't do that we have no hope of a path of keeping under 1.5C.
The second point I wish to make on the urgency is the UN general secretary in September 2018 stated that unless by the end of 2020, this year, humanity has started radically cutting carbon emissions we face what he called an existential crisis.
Now we often think the word existential is quite nice and cuddly; existential means extinction, and that is the crisis, and the warning the UN general secretary gave to the world in September 2018.
But it gets worse; there was a report in 2018 by the ? called Hot House Earth.
It was published in the Journal of Natural Sciences, and it stated that either we have already passed an irreversible tipping point on runaway climate change in the last 15 years, or we will do so in the next 10 years unless we take radical action and get to zero carbon as urgently, as quickly, as possible.
So my case is that we are at weird?? business as usual is gone; time for flitting around with carbon taxes is gone; what we have to face is that we need radical action on the level that the government took in world war 2.
But just get down into some of the nitty-gritty of why there's a problem with carbon taxes; almost every, many many, countries around the world have tried carbon taxes.
Many of them have experienced, literally, riots in the streets, and Thomas?, Zimbabwe, Sudan, Iran, France, and even ourselves, we had the 2020, sorry the 2000, fuel duty protest which led a mass movement to object to the government's increase in taxes, carbon taxes on fossil fuels.
Those pressed? protests in the UK led the government to back down on the increase in fossil fuel taxes, and every government since then, whether the coalition government, the Labor government or the Tory, current Tory, government, have actually not just not raised the carbon tax on fuel they have cut it in real terms every year since 2011.
That has led to 110 billion pounds being removed from the tax take by our government, and left us in an age of austerity for 10 years because of the fear that they have of raising a carbon tax on fossil fuels.
So we've had experience in this country; all parties, including Lib Democrats, collapsed in the face of the opposition to it.
So the other thing that we have that's fairly challenging, the UK that makes, I think, carbon taxes almost impossible is that we have our media is dominated by around four to five right-wing media billionaires um, the Barclay Brothers, brother? Mail, and Murdoch, all of them, as a matter of policy, oppose action on climate change, and when any political party, or government, suggests taking any action on this, they will come down on us like a ton of bricks.
So I think we need to recognise that this is not fast enough, it is based, so the other point about it not being fast enough, it's a nudge tax.
So what it is, is saying that the polluter pays, and we'll tax it so that gradually people will say, oh it's bad, and slowly we'll move away from it.
As I've pointed out with the urgency that we're in, that is not feasible any longer.
So the title of this session, I believe, has actually got his finger on the pulse; follow the money, I think, that's where we really need to be looking at in this conversation; and rather than going down a dead end that has been tried for 30 years; remember the Kyoto treaty, signed 20, nearly 30 years, ago, brought in carbon Emission Trading, carbon taxation, and the UN senate rejected, 95 to 0, and we've been talking about, and argued about, ever since.
So what I feel is, yes, we need to do, follow the money.
So it is going to cost money to change to a zero carbon economy.
So how do we do it fast, and how do we do it efficiently, and how do we do it fairly, because that's the other point with carbon taxes, quite often these are quite rightly pointed out that all of us use carbon, so all of us will pay taxes, and the poor will end up having increased costs; and very few politicians can face that backlash.
So I would argue we need three things: regulation, rationing, and grants.
But before I get into those three, I want to talk about some really interesting money; Dieter talked about the UK emissions being divided between Territorial and Consumption; what that means is that the Territorial emissions are the emissions that are actually emitted on the land of the United Kingdom so our cars, our fuel, our fuel stations, our cows, our agricultural or land.
However, Consumption emissions include that, but they also add to it aviation, shipping and imported goods.
Now the report by the Climate Change Committee to parliament, which took place at the end of last week, on Thursday; they reported that, astonishingly, Territorial emissions in the United Kingdom, the emissions that we emit ourselves, and which the government has committed to be net-zero, are 56% of total Consumption emissions for United Kingdom.
So what that means is that we're importing 44% of our carbon emissions through manufactured goods and other services - aviation and shipping for example, manufactured goods.
90% of carbon emissions associated with manufactured goods in the United Kingdom are imported from abroad.
But on top of that, what the CCC did not refer to was that in addition to our Consumption emissions and our Territorial emissions, are our financial emissions.
Nobody talks about these, and they're crucial, because when people talk about the United Kingdom's territorial emissions, they're only one percent of global emissions.
What they forget is the contribution of the City of London.
The City of London and the United Kingdom government fund 15% of global investments in new fossil fuel infrastructure.
Prior to C0vid 19, It was calculated that the world financial institutions had planned investments of five trillion dollars in new fossil fuel infrastructure.
And remember an expansion of the industry, remember we can't afford to burn more than 20 percent of what we already have, so to propose to spend five trillion on new fossil fuel infrastructure and facilities, is a suicide note to humanity.
So what I say is that the United Kingdom is fifteen percent of that five trillion, so nearly a two-thirds of a trillion dollars are being invested by UK banks and institutions in global fossil fuels, and that's not including our carbon emissions.
So what we need is regulation of this; what we need is the Bank of England, which is the lender of last resort to the high street banks, is to say we will no longer lend a penny to the high street banks as long as they continue investing in new fossil fuels with the fossil fuel corporations.
That releases hundreds of billions of pounds for investment in the new green economy, and means that the double win is not only are there hundreds of billions available for the new economy, but hundreds of billions are not invested in the old dirty economy.
The next thing I want to talk about, other than that money which is there, and that doesn't mean a penny of taxation has to go into the working classes, or the poor, in this country, but there's a huge well of investment available to us there.
Then we need to look at regulations when you put a carbon tax on most businesses in London, remember most businesses in London are office-based in their service industries; very few of them are high-carbon.
I worked for a charity, a two million pound turnover charity.
What percentage of our turnover was energy? It was five thousand pounds a year, so the idea that the the boss would spend a huge amount of time trying to reduce that 5000 pounds because there's an extra 200 pounds carbon tax on it, is with the birds; it's not going to work.
What we need is regulation on energy efficiency, and regulation on the production of of electricity and power.
So we need to ban the installation of any new fossil fuel infrastructure into new homes; we need to actually set a target of regulation for the power sector to phase out fossil fuels within around five to ten years; and we need to make an energy efficiency act, an energy efficiency act that would actually make it an offense to waste energy, and we have an infrastructure already in place; but if a company, for example retailers on Oxford Street, are running their electricity, their air conditioning and their heating, and they've got the entire wall open to the public; but that would be able to be closed down by the Environmental Health Officer.
So we need an environment efficiency act.
I could go on and on about what can be done on regulation.
And, finally, grants.
We need to be actually looking at how do we get, for example, the high-carbon industries in the UK to switch to low- carbon.
So, for example, we need to be funding hydrogen research and conversion, using for example offshore wind to hydrogen to convert our high-carbon industries to low-carbon.
So there is my case; my case [against carbon tax] is that the urgency is too great - they're too slow; and they actually cause too much pushback, not only from the public, but from the media in the United Kingdom.
So I would argue we do need to put our finger on the money, not carbon taxes, but on actually redirecting the investment flows from the banking system; and ensure proper regulation is banning what is wrong, rather than nudging out what is wrong.
Keith: Okay, wow.
You've said yourself you are going to be contrarian and you indeed were contrary, and so it may well have changed the dynamic of the whole meeting, Donnachadh.
But I knew I could rely on you to change the dynamic of anything you get into.
You may get, you may get, um, battered a little bit.
Julian's come back on stage and I'm going to keep us all on stage for the moment as well, rather than go straight to questions.
What I'm going to do is ask, first of all, Dinesh briefly to comment.
I'm going to ask Julian to comment and then I know Stewart Redaway is in the audience as well; so with a little bit of warning, Stewart, you may be able to counter some of Donnachadh's enthusiastic contrarian-ness, and defend the idea of having a carbon tax.
Have we got time to do that? So I'm going to come to Dinesh first, and then to Julian and then to Stewart, and then we'll perhaps take it in a more relaxed questioning frame, rather than a contrarian frame.
Dinesh: Thank you Keith, I really enjoyed Donohue's presentation; and once I've heard it, I start believing that he is right.
We have to do more than less, and redirecting banking flows is the way to go, because it's big money.
It is so much better, and so much faster, than trying to just tax people, and taxing the poor, but that's me.
I just got influenced by him.
Keith: Wow, okay, I wasn't expecting about that rather streaming???
Thanks, Dinesh, for that brief comment, and a convincing change of heart.
Julian, has your mind changed from carbon tax?
Are you determined to go through with this carbon taxation job?
Julian: I agree with some of what he said and disagree with others; he's right about the severity of the situation; he's right that we need other actions that will happen quickly; but I think he's wrong about several things.
For a start, because we're proposing to combine a carbon tax with a dividend, we are not going to make a lot of poor people worse off.
The net effect of doing what we're proposing should be moderately progressive, not regressive.
It will affect prices directly; this is going to cost money however we do it, but the other proposals, regulating things, moving money around, all those things will also require people to pay.
I don't see why carbon tax should be uniquely unpopular, or uniquely attacked by the media, and yet the massive regulation that's being proposed by Donnachadh, that's going to be fine now.
In terms of regulations, I think there's two different kinds of regulations being proposed there; one are a set of regulations to do with the efficiency of of how we do things now, that isn't telling particular people what to do; that you have to build a plant or close down a plant in a particular location; it's telling people that you have to do a much better job of doing your job than is done now; those sort of regulations can be very effective and low cost if they're all designed like, for instance, improving the information standards in homes, but some of the other regulations are really more a sort of state direction.
Somebody at the center is going to say right stop doing what you're doing now, and do something completely different.
I'm very distrustful of that kind of state intervention, because my impression is that the people who most want to do it are the people you can least trust with that kind of power; most obviously people like, you know, Corbyn and Momentum in the Labour party.
But actually, if you look at Boris Johnson trying to direct the fight against the virus from the center, he's hacking around, sometimes distributing power down to the people.
I know it sounds like I'm an old-fashioned liberal but in some ways I am a bit of an old-fashioned liberal, and this is actually a better way to get things done than trying to do everything from the center.
So regulations which tell you how to do things like efficiency; but, also, a carbon tax tends to do the same thing, and can be more effective than saying do this, don't do that, because the people who issue those central directions will make the wrong decision.
I think that's all I can say for now.
To some extent, I would need to read his detailed text and think about it for a while, because there's some things i just cannot respond to, you know, just like that.
Keith: Okay Julian, thank you very much indeed.
First of all, can Stewart, if he's willing to come up on stage, can you put your blue hand up in the audience, I'll see that.
Stewart is there, sitting waiting to come up, so Caron you can bring Stewart on stage.
And just a warning then to the audience that the circumstances, because of Donnachadhs contrarian-ness have changed.
We are going to have a debate, and what I'm hoping to do, and Caron can perhaps be doing this in the background, we do have the option of having a poll and I think the nature of that poll should be two questions, no, one question with two answers: should we go down the route of operating a carbon tax, without going into the details of it, and I think this is something we we may get into a little bit in the discussion, should we go down the route of having a carbon tax, or should we try and circumvent the need for carbon tax by going with Donnachadh's idea of regulation and grants and following the money.
So we've got a challenge on our hands, and those people who would like to argue in favor of Donnachadh's idea - so that people in favor of Donnachadh's idea, if you could put any blue hands up now, I will take one or two of you.
You've got some supporters in the audience they, whoa, steady, I'm going, and you know I'm only going to take two hands on Donnachadh's ideas, and then I'll take some hands on the other idea of carbon taxation, so just hold your hands, hold your horses, carefully um, right, Stewart do you want to come back to the discussion and see where we get to? Stewart.
Stewart: Okay, can you hear me? Some comments on what Donnachadh said (sorry that's not your right name).
First, I don't think it has to be an either/or.
You didn't seem to make a case why one can't have both sensible regulation and a tax, a carbon tax; and it doesn't seem to me that banking flows, okay trying to control them, will produce an immediate effect of reducing CO2 emissions; just as a carbon tax, I think, can have very quick effects in terms of the decisions that people make.
Now, regulation might be able to have a a quick effect, direct regulation, but I'm not sure about regulation on money flows; and finally, you spoke about riots against carbon tax; I believe they've mostly been against the price of petrol and Diesel going up; in our motion, we've suggested that petrol and Diesel are already much more highly taxed by the fuel duty than other forms of carbon emissions, by and large; and so what our proposal is, is that we have a carbon tax, but we level up the tax; and on fuel duty, we reduce fuel duty so that it brings tax more equal across the board; and I think that will remove a major driver of riots like the Gilets Jaune in France, for example.
Keith: Um okay, I think there's something else that we'll do for now.
Okay Stewart, thank you very much.
Caron, I think what we will do, just to maintain rather than have everybody on screen; if, when we have a speaker coming in, we have one speaker going out.
I think Julian should stay with us, as being the main protagonist for the moment, and I invite John Shoesmith to join us, and, as John is joining us on screen, we perhaps need a third option on the poll, which we'll take in perhaps 10 or 15 minutes; the third option being a combination of carbon tax and the ideas that Donnachadh is proposing.
I don't know whether that's making things too complicated, but right now John is with us.
John is unmuted; you have the floor, Sir.
John: Okay; well I was, I'm, not quite sure how to pronounce your name, Donnachadh, anyway I'm not quite sure i'd pronounce your name, but, uh, I was really interested in what you said; I think it was spot on in many respects.
I've certainly watched with horror as the world for 30 years has done very little to improve matters, and I think it's absolutely imperative now to get us right; it's possibly the most important debate in the whole of human history - the current one that we're conducting - and it's my perception that something pretty radical is needed, radical and different.
I was quite interested when you mention rationing because I think, actually, rationing is quite a fair way of getting through this thing, and if we're going to get to it, and take an entire population with us, we need to be quite blunt with them and quite rigorous in establishing a strong ethical basis for what we do, because we've seen in the Coronavirus crisis how quickly unanimity breaks down if just one person is seen to break things; so really, as I sit here, we're squandering carbon everywhere around me at this very moment.
It's unacceptable, it's damaging my grandchildren's future, it's carbon that they won't be able to burn when they grow up, and I'd like to see us ration it, and go to the British people with an absolutely hard and fast rule that said look, here's a set of rules that will get us through this; we'll reduce our carbon footprint; we'll impact other countries and take them with us as well; and, I think rationing, combined with some form of ..., I mean carbon rationing, (would that apply to both imports and our own goods?), is probably the only way of hitting things rapidly enough to solve this problem; that's what happens.
Keith: Thank you John.
We're going to return you to the audience, and we're going to call Josie Parr to speak in favor of Donohue's resolution, if you like.
Then if people could put their hands down, I might ask you to put your hand up later, Brian, I have seen it.
What I'm going to ask now, while Josie is coming on stage, if there's anybody who wants to speak in favor of having both carbon tax and Donnachadh's ideas; oh Helene Corfunty's(?) coming to talk to both options.
Josie, are you with us yet? Yes, hello, you are with us, yet we can't see you Josie, but we can hear you.
Josie: OK, by the way, yes, so I think, I think we have to do something as soon as possible.
I think we can't wait around.
So I think we really need that regulation; sounds, sounds excellent; and getting the Bank of England involved, speaking to banks to not lend money to, you know, fossil fuels.
And I think the combination of actions that Donnachadha was suggesting is excellent and I just think we we have to do something in the shortest space of time, because, you know, as you say, there's an ecological disaster looming, and wars and famines looming, and, you know, we need to to take action, and also, then, take other countries in with us, to address this terrible situation.
Keith: Okay, Josie, thank you very much.
We will return you to the audience; I'm then going to take Helen Corfente, and if Brian Matthew would stand by; Brian is obviously going to take the both options together route.
So, Helen, you're on screen, and you're unmuted.
Helen: Hi everybody. The trouble is, you know you pose a question early on, and once you've finished hearing everything, you've come up with several others.
So the short answer is, I've had a very varied and a deep education, from law to economics and environmental matters, and I'm actually convinced in the arguments about carbon tax; but I also pick up on the reservations and difficulties.
But the reality is, that there was one module I did in psycho at University of psychology; and I particularly was unimpressed by Freud; I thought he was very sort of just limitlessly obsessed with sex; and, then, I no longer dismissed him, when I heard about his daughter applying this principle of of human beings wanting to display to be attractive, to have status, and applying it to selling cigarettes, which are just leaves that you roll up with pieces of paper, and set fire to; and she was asked to promote this to women, who had been for generations told you do not do this; and yet she succeeded; and what I learned from that is that throughout the 20th century "they" have been applying this psychology to make us buy stuff; to think we need it for our status and comfort, and everything else; and we've been all falling for it.
So, when we have these wonderful academic logical arguments, which I must say, despite my education, I've been hanging on by my nails just to follow the logic of it.
We must remember our basic psychology, and to get these arguments through would??.
You both are absolutely spot on; we need to apply this basic psychology.
It's not that things are wrong, it's that we are being manipulated; [things] we actually desire in life are completely different; we desire to live with our families; we desire/ want to live healthily; we desire/ want to live without war; we want, we don't want to find that people are having to move around the earth because they've got to choose between dying or coming to our countries, which is all about the environment.
(It's that they) we've got to convert all your fantastic arguments into that basic Freudian psychology as to what we really want.
Okay, thank you.
I know my question was about the regulations, but what I was trying to say there, is that we've got certain rules in the EU about The Polluter Pays, and we seem to have adopted this without even thinking about it.
I remember when it came in 2014, but does anybody panic about it? No.
So we've got, we've got examples of it; but whatever the logic is, and as I said, I'm having problems hanging on to your intellectual arguments; and I'm in a minority of 40 people listening to this, out of a group of 1000, out of a part of political party that believes in it; and yet we've got to convince our whole country, our political elite, and the rest of the world.
We've got to apply some Freudian psychology to this as well.
Keith: I think Helen, if you think we're in a minority of a minority of a minority party, then you're a good radical liberal, and thank you for coming to the floor.
I'm going to call Brian Matthew next, and after that I'm going to call one speaker; so whoever puts their hand up first, one speaker in favor of carbon tax alone and then one speaker after that.
So Russell Ellis - no Russell's put his hand down again; one, yeah no, one speaker in favor of carbon tax will be Russell.
Brian you have the floor; uh, you're muted, so you need to unmute yourself Sir; very good, excellent.
Brian: Thank you very much indeed; all this talk about existential struggles makes me think World War 2, and Winston Churchill talking about total war against the Nazi menace.
Well, this is as Donnadach's already said, an existential struggle now, and we need total war to win it; and that means, yes, I think, a carbon tax, but yes, also lots of other things, including regulation but also including massive investment in the right things; one thing, for example, would be seaweed farming; we are an island nation, we're surrounded by sea and we could indulge in massive amounts of seaweed farming to absorb the CO2 that needs to be absorbed; and other nations can do that, or they can do other things.
We also need massive investment in tidal energy; an awful lot of money needs to be spent, and part of that, I think, can come from a carbon tax; it will also have to come from other other places as well, but if we're going to really treat this with the seriousness that is required, I think we need to treat it as a total war on carbon.
You are muted, Keith.
Keith: Sorry about that folks, I muted myself because I got an incoming telephone call, and I thought I'd better mute myself; but I had muted myself.
So what I was saying was, thank you Brian for speaking; and does Russell want to come and say what he wanted to say in favor of carbon tax, or if not Russell, is there somebody else ..., yeah Russell Ellis bringing on stage.
This is fun; I'm enjoying this; we didn't have a debate, we weren't planning a debate, but we're having one; fabulous stuff.
Russell, the floor Sir is yours; you are unmuted; we can't see you yet - yes we can.
Russell, go ahead.
Russell: So I mean, fundamentally my background is in energy.
I've written a few papers for wind farms and solar farms.
I think the one thing that goes against the policy of more regulation, more uh stacking things on top of, stacking solutions on top of solutions, is that in the UK, in the energy industry, we have dozens and dozens and dozens of government incentives; we have the Eco scheme, we have the FiT scheme, we have the rego? scheme, we have the Roc scheme; all of these schemes stack on top of each other; they all target a specific problem, and they don't address the fundamental problem.
So I think we need to address the simplest, the cleanest, and the most comprehensive strategy that we can find; and we need to give people the information that they need to make those decisions.
People, as Helen says, people want to live in a good world, they want to make the right decisions; pople don't choose to buy energy from green companies, because they want to be, you know, bad; they want, they choose, to buy energy from you know the likes of Good Energy, the likes of Octopus, because they think that's the morally right thing to do.
If you give them the information to do it, they will do it; but what we do is we bury all of this within a system that's so incomprehensible that, even people who are in the industry, find it difficult to follow; and then you get people fighting against each other.
If we have a single level playing field, it makes it much more straightforward for the consumer to make that decision; and, you know, I kind of agree that directing financial flows makes a lot of sense, but what I see is, whenever we've looked at investment cases, if you have uh, you know, if you have a government regulation that says the Roc scheme is closing down in two years, suddenly, instantly, the money that's going into those schemes from the investment funds immediately demands a higher rate of return.
They say this is too risky I don't like it, I don't trust it.
If you do the same thing for the carbon industry, those five billion pounds that you're talking about from banks will suddenly disappear, because their IRS will go from sort of what their required rate of return those investments will have, will go from, say, well, 15% to 20%, and that makes them fundamentally unviable; I mean they're not largely viable anyway; I mean gas, gas hasn't been viable in the UK for 10 years, maybe.
So I think we do need to go with the simplest, the cleanest and the most straightforward policy, and that is a straightforward carbon tax.
Keith: Muted again, sorry uh Russell; thank you very much indeed.
We're going to dump you back in the audience and Roy Pansford, I think wants to speak in favor of uh Donnachadh's ideas; is that correct Roy? We haven't got one, yeah, it's just bear with me just one second, right, right, I'm going to ask one more person to speak in favor of both because then we need to be drawing this to a close.
And what I'd like, if Caron is able to do this, once Roy and the next speaker, whoever the next speaker is, have spoken, if you can put the poll on screen for us; those of you who have already made up your minds clearly can vote straight away, and the rest of you, if you still need to be swayed one way or the other, you can listen to Julian speaking in favor of his carbon tax, Donnachadh speaking in favor of his regulations and rules, and then Dinash perhaps can sum up for the - uh he's looking surprised - Dinesh can sum up for having both ideas.
If we can go in that route.
So Roy the floor is yours Sir.
Roy: Thank you; um well Mr Mccarthy - I'm not sure how to pronounce your first name - I'm just so impressed what you said.
I was quite sort of blown over, and particularly about the financial sector; the emphasis has to change, and you've been quite blunt and straightforward that it's not going to be easy to change.
And I think the other things we do are working on the edges, which are helpful, but the financial element is so critical and crucial, which I didn't realise until you said, I just thought, this is right, so thank you for opening my eyes; it was a very very impressive presentation; it's really a real privilege to hear you; dear muted again ah chair.
Keith: uh Roy thank you very much indeed so the next person to put their hand up is going to speak on behalf of having both ideas go forward together, whoever that may be; anybody's blue hand coming up? Nobody wants to take that role; okay well let's move then to a summary - uh Caron, if you can put the poll up on screen so that people can start voting; there it is, so we've got carbon tax, follow the money which is Donnachadh's idea, combination - oh we've got rationing as well = and anybody who chooses to need more information we've got a poll of five options there.
This is going to be interesting, with only 44 and five offers in the room. Right, Julian, would you like to sum up in favor of just having a carbon tax.
Julian: Right, I've got to say that I have a serious problem in summing up in favor of just having a carbon tax, in that about at least a third of what Donnachadh said actually makes a lot of sense, and I support it; possibly I might support quite a lot of the other things he said, but he hasn't given us enough information; i'd like to see his proposal set out in more detail, with sufficient information so that we can actually go through them in some detail.
One thing I will say is I don't detect any real argument that he produced for not going ahead with a carbon tax, and I think he actually almost said himself that we should have a carbon tax; he just thinks it's going to be too slow, and it's going to lead to opposition; though why what he's proposing should lead to less opposition than a carbon tax, I don't know; in particular, I think this point he's making about about poverty is wrong.
The carbon tax plus dividend, combined, is likely to be, in my view, more popular than most of the other proposals regarding banking flows and moving money around.
These funds can come from anywhere in the world, if we get out of it the US and Chinese can just take over; and, in the case of the Chinese, they're likely to do so because they've got a lot of money sitting around that they want to use, and they want to increase their global power.
We've got to try and work with other countries on that, even though I agree we've got to try and stop people from extracting these fossil fuels.
In terms of being radical, being radical when we're doing the right thing is good; being radical for its own sake can involve people making very stupid decisions, because they're just going to panic.
With regard to rationing, we need a clear and detailed proposal; I'm not sure exactly what he's proposing in any specific term; so I can't comment on that.
Hence comments on the persuasion?? were very relevant and we should make use of that.
Other than that, I'm sorry I can't give a more rational response, except to say that I'm frustrated by not having several days to review something in detail before we did this.
I have spent two months batting stuff around with Stewart to come up with the proposal that we've got; But I think I'd better just stop and let people go ahead.
Keith: Okay, Julian; thank you; that's very honest in terms of needing more time, and I think probably most of us need more time.
I don't know how I'm going to come to you Nick??, so you need to unmute your microphone and carry on being contrarian, if you would;
Donnachadhachadh. Well it's not deliberately contrarian; I mean what I'm actually saying is, Matthew's absolutely correct, we are in a terrifying emergency.
Siberia is 20, 18, degrees hotter than it's supposed to be, Australia's rainforests are on fire, and California is drying out, so the issue we're in, the reality we're in, is 2050, which is where most of the consensus is where we need to get to zero carbon. It's actually, in my view, a form of carbon dioxide - a form of climate - denialism; it's the latest iteration of carbon denialism, because it means that we will pass the terrifying limits of 1.5 and two; and, would you not believe, on Thursday the Climate Change Committee told the government that they need to prepare for a four degree rise; you cannot really prepare for a four degree rise; it's incompatible with our civilisation.
So that's the level of crisis.
So Matthew's absolutely right; we're in a crisis that's worse than World War 2, World War one, and the great recession put together, quoting Lord Stern.
So what we need is the equivalent reaction multiplied by ten and that requires, I'm sorry Julian, the liberals supported the coalition government during world war 2, and that's what we, as liberals and radicals, need to be advocating now; we need the equivalent of a coalition government of unity to implement a war level reaction to the crisis we're in that would implement, as I said, a regulatory, grant and money reallocation program that would get us to zero carbon in the speed and time that we need, which I believe is five years; and but, maybe because of practicality, we might take ten but and so therefore just giving, I mean Julian's absolutely right, I mean I'm talking about a whole program for government here to lay it out in 10 minutes, it would be unfair for him to be able to deal with that, for me to lay it out.
But just to give a small example, the United Kingdom has the highest level of flights per person in the world; it's staggering and if you actually take the the magnifying impacts of it in the stratosphere, it's around 13% of our of our emissions; so rather than putting a tax on carbon emissions from flights which will take a nudge and time to achieve, one example of rationing is: you would give every person in the country a ration of how much carbon they can use for flights; it can be on an exchange - it can be traded - so poor people who don't fly can get some money from rich people who do want to fly more than the ration allows them; and you ratchet that down over the time that the science tells us we needed to do so; by, maybe, let's say, six years time the amount of flights will be absolutely only essential; that's one way how rationing would work in the practical real world; you have a carbon card for flying and you ration it down so that's an example of how it would work.
As an example of regulations at the moment we have around six to seven million homes without a cavity wall insulation or without home insulation, so what the government should do is go back to where we were eight years ago, where there was a grant available funded via the energy, funded by various - that's a more complicated issue - but funded by the government.
I'm funded by the energy companies; it was free to everybody; you could have free loft insulation, get a free wall insulation, but the fact is we didn't have it regulated, so what we need is to go back to that which we've already done; it was available, we had 10s of thousands of people working in it, skilled people; they're still there, out there, waiting to be put in employment again, but this time we put the grant in place, but we say within five years, the regulations say, you cannot have a cavity wall or a loft that's not insulated.
So that's how grants, and follow the money, and regulation, could combine to get us to where we need to be, of low carbon homes, low bills for poor people, and not putting a massive tax on them, which Julian is saying, and would actually, I would say, pointing out to Julian the complexity of what he's proposing is at a time of Brexit when we may be going through very likely a zero-deal Brexit, where we will be on WTO terms, he's going to put another tax on imports which actually, absolutely, would turbo- charge inflation; it's got too many flaws in it Julian; I actually understand that most academics think you're right, most economists think you're right, but people who live in the real world, and politicians and people like me, who work with real businesses and real homes, I don't think it will work in time.
Keith: Okay I'm going to stop you there and go to Dinesh; we haven't got a lot of time, we're running on overtime in fact, but we have got, we have got the capacity to run over time just a little bit.
Dinesh: Thank you together ideas??.
Well thank you Keith.
As far as I can see, I mean Julian was a bit harsh on Donnachadh because I mean in two or three minutes, or five minutes, you can't really lay out a huge plan, and Donnachadh mentioned that, but we do need a sledgehammer to deal with this; and also we need a political situation that all politicians will say it's fine now, if the figures are right, of 5 trillion, and 15% from the City of London that's 750 billion pounds or dollars, whatever it is, and I think that'll go a long way.
I mean not all of it will come off [fossil fuel] in one day, or one year, but it'll come down; our NHS budget is only 120 billion - you know this is huge.
I like a person who practices what he preaches, which he does, and but I, you know, if you can get a, if you could start with a carbon tax start with that we've got to start, we've got to do something fast, and that's right-now the point about marketing.
You can market people to smoke cigarettes, but you can also market to people to use less carbon too, if the government wants.
So, uh, I think it goes both??, unless we get a situation like Covid 19, we need a political solution so I'll stop there.
Keith: Thank you Dinesh.
Having unmuted myself yet again, um Caron, are we able to report back on people's voting habits? We are, so, right, carbon tax alone is 13; follow the money, Donnachadha has uh overall plan is 16, but there's a 66 - now that seems to me to be a majority, 66 in favor of a joint approach.
So in one sense Dinesh has won the argument but I think, I think in fact, we all have won the argument by having such an interesting discussion.
What I would like to do is to tell you all that it is possible now for us to discuss this in a more relaxed informal way, and I think, because there is a timetable where the motions have to be in tomorrow, I know Julian and Stewart would actually appreciate some opportunity to discuss their resolution, which looks as though it's going to have the go ahead of this group.
As long as we also introduce rationing, as Donnachadh suggested.
Um, are we going uh Caron, are we going to the meeting hall to do that? You can pop to the meeting all; that way everybody can kind of see each other's faces okay.
And we can continue the discussion in there.
We will do that then, and I'll, in one second or two, allow you to transfer everybody in that process.
But can I - uh Donnachadh, you want to say something before we move to the hall?
Donnachadh: Yeah, I will probably leave if you're moving to the Hall.
Keith: That's fine, that's not a problem at all; and the thing I wanted to say very much indeed, first of all to Dinesh for sharing the chair with me, and for moving this in a direction that we hadn't anticipated at all when we started.
Thank you very much to our key speakers, Julian Hawkins and Donnachadh Mccarthy, and thank you to all of the people who popped in to speak from the audience.
I think that was an interesting debate.
If you can show your appreciation in the chat with applause, applause and clap clap clap so that everybody knows, and I will do my applause from here, so that you know that you're appreciated.
Thanks ever so much guys, and we will now move to the meeting hall; thank you; bye-bye.
The link has been pasted into the chat; you can either copy it onto your clipboards and paste it into your address bar, or give it a click and close this window, this Zoom meeting, behind you, and I will see you over there in a couple of minutes.