No one wants to give up their own personal comfort or lifestyle for the sake of "the planet." Even people I know who are self-described ardent environmentalists still fly in planes frequently to all manner of touristy destinations so they can keep "collecting experiences."
Shit, look at Paris. They champion this climate accord and the minute the government raises taxes on fuel to help pay for some the policies, the people riot and destroy things and the government backs down.
The only "solution" to climate change, if you can call it that, is through technology and adaptation. As the Earth warms and the waters rise, people will need to move, and we will need to create new technology to ensure our agricultural production doesn't lessen and we can keep feeding people.
Honestly I don't really think it's gonna get all Mad Max/Extinction Level Event, but who knows, it might!
The fuel tax was only the trigger of a much larger discontent of the population, more so: only 19% of that tax increase will actually be used for the energetic transition (I could post sources on that but they're in French, ask away if you want to have a look). It sounds like you're assuming that the French population is an hegemonic group of people, but even among the yellow vests you'll find people fighting for various, and often contradictory goals.
Now I don't disagree with the general feeling of your message. The main issue to me, which is mostly empirical, being that the very people who are mostly responsible for climate change will be the very last to actually suffer from it.
Is climate change the great filter?
Yes, it's hard to get 195 countries to agree to implement a carbon tax, but you could have said the same thing about the ozone layer / CFC problem.
Carbon taxation plays out as a consumption tax on goods people consume in roughly the same quantities independent of income.
Take fuel as an example. The average american adult consumes about 550 gallons of gas a year for driving. It doesn't matter substantially how wealthy you are - there are only so many hours in the day to drive.
A $20/Metric Ton CO2eq carbon tax means a fuel price increase of 0.18c/gal, or about $100 a year per person. So we'd expect to see consumers either pay this additonal 18c to keep driving on gas, or some close equivalent cost if they find a competitive renewable fuel at this new price point.
- If you are at the 10th income percentile, you make $11/hr and society now expects 9 hours of labor from each adult in your household a year to pay for energy transition
- If you are at the 90th income percentile, you make $29/hr, society expects you to work 3.4hrs a year to pay for transition.
This makes carbon taxation, and related schemes like gas taxes, politically unpopular. See for instance yellow vest protests in France, where gas taxation was a key issue.
Carbon tax -> fuel cost: http://www.rff.org/blog/2017/calculating-various-fuel-prices...
Fuel consumption: https://www.fool.com/investing/2017/01/14/heres-how-much-gas...
For starters, high income people tend to have much greater carbon footprints. I, in the top decile, probably quintuple my carbon footprint by engaging in a little bit of unnecessary air travel (living in New England, in 2018 I went once to Shanghai, once to Puerto Rico, and once to Montana). The average private jet owner probably has a carbon footprint 10x - 100x of mine.
Then, you have a tax and it _still_ turns out to be regressive (or even if it doesn't), you can use the tax revenue in a way that disproportionally benefits low income people.
The best policy (IMO) is a carbon fee-and-dividend, where all of the proceeds of the tax are redistributed evenly amongst all residents of the nation.
There is a bill in the US congress that would enact just this policy (https://energyinnovationact.org/) (https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/7173). If you like the policy, let your congressmen know. And everyone else too.
And it _really_ is the best policy. Even if it did nothing to reduce emissions, it's a matter of justice. I won't tell you that you can't fly across the country every single weekend or emit a gigaton of carbon mining bitcoin but, if you do, you _really_ should reimburse me and my 2-year-old daughter for the harm you're doing to our futures.
> The best policy (IMO) is a carbon fee-and-dividend, where all of the proceeds of the tax are redistributed evenly amongst all residents of the nation.
This seems ideal; get the benefits of moving carbon externalities into the price of consumption and use that revenue to both make the tax palatable and reduce wealth inequality.
- Some experts just flatly deny it: "low-expenditure households devote a smaller share of their budget to gasoline than do their counterparts in the middle of the expenditure distribution" --- https://dspace.mit.edu/bitstream/handle/1721.1/63747/isgasol...
- Carbon taxes are often less regressive than alternative sources of revenue e.g. sales taxes
- Depends on how the revenue is spent. If, for example, it's used to expand the Earned Income Tax Credit in the US, the overall tax and spend pattern would be progressive.
- The impacts of excess carbon are also "regressive" in that global warming affects poor people more severely. This means that the net effect of a regressive tax which reduces a problem with an even more regressive incidence could be progressive.
France just threw away a political year on a gas tax they had to roll back. The political fallout, in the form of the yellow vest conservative movement, may well delay further progressive climate reform by another election cycle at least. The fact that a gas tax makes logical sense does not matter, what matters is if it has real world efficacy.
If the climate reform you are passing is causing backlashes that nullify it, we just wasted precious time for no reason. It does not matter how much you think the voting public should just get over themselves.
As an example: There is broad public support for substantially increased rates in top marginal taxation and in capital gains. Raise the money there and use it to subsidize low-carbon or negative-carbon alternatives.
This also highlights that what works is contextual. To my knowledge there is very little opposition to the ongoing rollout of cap-n-trade in the EU. And of course, if you can pass carbon taxation schemes, they are fantastic since they simply pull the external costs into the price and let the market sort it out.
Macron was attempting to make ordinary people pay for the extravagant resource use practiced by the wealthy and by industry.
That is why people riot, because they (rightly) perceive those policies as taking from the working class and giving to the elite.
The wealthiest 10% of Americans by income spend ~$3,000/year on gas, while the poorest 10% spend only $870/year. So looking at only gas purchases, the wealthy do consume much more gas. This could be caused by differences in vehicles (bigger/luxury cars are more expensive and typically consume more fuel), fuel grade (premium vs regular gasoline), and distance driving (poor Americans are just not driving as much).
The bottom 10% earns 38% of what the the top 10% earns, and pays 30% of the cost. A carbon tax is a progressive tax according to these calculations.
A hidden assumption in your calculation is that poor people emit the same amount of CO2 as rich people. Poor people may not have a car, and may not take a plane to go on vacation. They are also likely to live in a smaller apartment, reducing the heating/AC costs. This is probably more true if you view this on a global level.
Even if CO2 taxes are regressive, you could think of a way to compensate for this by altering tax rates/brackets
Who are you to say that of others?!
I'm French (Parisian, actually) and I keep demonstrating with yellow vests to try and force political action so we can save the biosphere.
I've been giving up on my personal comfort for years to reduce my environment footprint and help others do the same: I don't go skiing anymore, I don't fly, I stopped driving (this morning, like any, I rode a bicycle although it's snowing heavily in Paris), I spend more and more to buy organic food for the environment (not for my health but to support farmers who care), I spend hours every weeks in NGO and various "1901 associations" to better understand how other can save the environment (even though it's extremely difficult for many, especially the poor) and to help others caring about the environment. I've been changing everything in my life just for the environment (I don't want to live on a dying Earth and watch the world burn), and I really don't know what I can do more.
I'm really tired and comments like yours are really adding insult to the injury.
I really want to scream a big F*CK you to your face for saying that "No one wants to give up their own personal comfort or lifestyle for the sake of "the planet."". Can you understand that? You seem to have given up any hope in political change, but please, don't speak for other.
Edit: one might think I can simply afford spending times and money of trying to reduce the environment but when you've reduced consumption to the minimum, work in a company that try its best to develop technologies to trigger an energy revolution and spend as much time and money possible to accelerate the movement, there's little else one can do to not rerupt when hearing comments such as OP's (and go into depression). Go watch First Reformed if you haven't already.
You expect a political solution but your immediate reaction to someone expressing a differing opinion is overt hostility.
I don’t know how to say this politely. You’re not a good advocate for the political process if you can’t calmly discuss the opposing viewpoint.
At no point did you provide evidence that a political solution is viable. You just complained about others and explained how you’re an environmentalist martyr. Most people don’t want to be martyrs.
I intentionally said "I really want to scream" and not "Let me say" because I certainly do not want to be hostile. I shared the point of view of the person I responded to, so no, I really did not express hostility but an invitation to understand that some people actually are giving up "their own personal comfort or lifestyle for the sake of the plane".
>I don’t know how to say this politely.
Look, you're writing something very similar to my "I want to" with this "I don't know but". I'm sure we both have good intentions.
> You’re not a good advocate for the political process if you can’t calmly discuss the opposing viewpoint.
I do not pretend to be a good advocate here. I'm trying to have someone consider that the actions of others are sincere. That people are actually fighting and giving up comfort (which the OP comment denied). I don't want to complain because I'm well off myself (good job, very secured financially, etc) but there are so many people who would not act if we keep denying the possibility of change and insists in making other choices non-existent or insincere. That would have be the case a younger me, that's why I'm quite emotional. It's just my feeling and I understand that it may not be welcome.
>At no point did you provide evidence that a political solution is viable.
Again, that's not my point. I could comment on that, but I reacted to the assumption that "No one wants to give up their own personal comfort or lifestyle for the sake of the planet". This is a very bad starting point to discuss this because the last decade of my life shows the contrary. I only complain that stating the contrary is false (logically) and morally wrong (who can speak for others about their intention?). Why do you think I'm a martyr? I certainly don't feel like one (again, I live in Paris and have enough time and resources to care not about my personal situation but climate change and poor workers who can't bear taxes). Nor do you I want anyone to be a martyr because I know we would have a violent regime change (probably not for the best) if people start feeling like they would have to die to be heard.
Metaphorical martyr. Half of your post was about the sacrifices you make (e.g. biking in the snow). Most people are not willing to make enormous sacrifices to stave off climate change, especially because they don’t feel their sacrifices meaningfully impact the outcome. This is why they riot over fuel taxes.
Still, I sympathize with the sentiment, the attitude of despair is EXTREMELY frustrating.
Most of those who suffer from those tax do NOT have any alternative to their heavily-polluting cars. Rich people can pay such tax or go full EV but you cannot compel the poor to pay such taxes that will make them just poorer.
When you already have trouble feeding yourself and your family, you go crazy and you vote Macron out. Believe me, if Macron keeps lowering the taxes on the extra rich and insists on making the poor pay high taxes for indispensable fuels, we'll get the far right pretty quickly and a far, far worst government in power that will happily destroy any environmental regulation. We've probably passed that point already but there isn't many other options but to force Macron to stop his crazy politics (he lowered the tax on capital gains to a point where I pay far less tax on my stock gains than on my actual work, it's really absurd).
It's a about the email exchange between by the author of the fuel tax and the guy who introduced the law (if I recall correctly) in which they admit the tax is only a way to recover the tax revenue lost after the government decided to keep lowering employer taxes (aka C.I.C.E). The fuel tax was required after the Paris Summit (which took place before Macron became president) and the current government took it as an opportunity to switch the tax burden from the biggest companies (the ones that benefits from the CICE) to people who can't afford clean vehicles.
I'm a yellow vest only because I care about the environment.
I was in most of the demonstration and believe me, we share a lot between ecologists and the poor workers who cannot bear the burden of the transition. I come from a "milieu social" (don't know how to translate) where you pollute 100 times more than the poor and be praised by Macron for being part of the "startup nation", "those who succeeds vs those who are nothing" etc.
Macron doesn't really care about the environment (ask Nicolas Hulot!).
I understand your anger here, but I'm 99% sure that the person you're replying to didn't mean that literally. 'No one' is often used to mean 'almost no one'.
I'm sure you'll agree that your behaviour is well into 1% territory, as an overall percentage of people.
You are to be applauded of course.
I was in the 99% territory before being in the 1%, then. And your comment could have convinced me not to change and give up.
That's what I'm trying to say in my bad English, and with vivid emotions, so my apologies if I'm rude or not clear enough.
Who are you to say that of others?!
> I'm really tired and comments like yours are really adding insult to the injury.
> I really want to scream a big F*CK you to your face...
No zealot like a convert.
When you realize that many banks and financial institutions have huuuge fossil-related assets on their books, you'll realize that an enormous % of the economy is resisting the switch to renewables. Not just the energy and auto industries. And many politicians are corrupt and will make sure not to fight for a quick transition (even if it means slowing down some technological developments, juuust a little). Innovations are made in the real world, where political institutions have real control and where human beings have real limits and real emotions. Of course we will have to switch to renewables (that's obvious: non renewable are not renewable so they can't last infinitely) but by denying the important of political action/solution, we'll certainly end up rushing into violent events (possibly wars). So please, be very careful not to forget that things always end up being political because we always have to make decisions (is it okay to pollute how much, should we finance some research / education, etc). And please don't be indifferent to the millions activists (many of whom are scientists/engineers) who work their asses off to not devastate the biosphere.
Of course the most viable solutions are largely political; I've never said or implied otherwise.
> When you realize that many banks and financial institutions have huuuge fossil-related assets on their books, you'll realize that an enormous % of the economy is resisting the switch to renewables.
These and related facts have been high on my mind for decades now.
> So please, be very careful not to forget that things always end up being political because we always have to make decisions
I'll never forget that.
I think you need to calm down a bit.
This is profoundly important stuff. Likely THE MOST important stuff.
For things that are really important, it's vital, in my opinion, that we lay emotions aside and get as pragmatic and focused as possible.
To me it seems like a really low emission activity, particaurly ski touring ?
Snow cannons, piste bashers, lift maintenance. Skiing is very polluting. Besides, you have to (usually) drive quite a bit to get to the mountain.
It's also extremely expensive.
On this site of different French ski station it claims a 19g to 350g of CO2 per day per user for snow cannons, piste bashers, lift maintenance. It is less than how much CO2 a human breath (1kg) per day.
The majority of CO2 emission is transportation : 57% and 27% for housing.
You can personally easily reduce the CO2 emission to go to the ski station using TGV train, if we take the example of the French OP, and then buses to climb to the station. For the housing it would be the same as if you were at home.
I'm Swiss, and going to ski basically means to be pulled up by a lift and slide back down. The entire concept of it is laughably unproductive, resulting at most in sunburns, sports injuries and further pollution from drunk people at après ski parties. It's preposterous hedonism.
I'm American and going swimming basically means to go nowhere for as long as the exercise lasts. The entire concept of it is laughably unproductive, resulting in at most sunburns, sports injuries, and further pollution from chemicals used to clean the pools. It's preposterous hedonism.
But yeah, I'll admit it, I don't really believe my feet will decide the vote on where to draw the line here, though, therefore I have to try make skiing look as bad as I possibly can.
But if you began pricing these things appropriately, you'd probably see a very bad reaction. Which is why you have a good point.
But believe me: you don't want to be on the side of the argument that claims individual virtue is the only way to save the world.
Luckily, it's not! There are lots of technological solutions to pursue once we want them.
One of my favourites is using jet engines on the back of container ships to loft salt water spray into the air where it seeds/brightens low marine layer clouds. Super cheap, very high impact.
Then we can go back to trying to promote biodiversity, like real environmentalists. Save the rainforest!
But if the permafrost starts melting, spiking methane, we'd better take the technological approaches available!
I'm hoping a radical centrist can win the US presidency in 2020 and get some such deal done with Congress. The USA needs to lead and then we would have a chance to help/arm twist China, India, and the rest of the world to follow suit.
I agree - Innovation. Clean energy has been around for ages but owned little of the market. Now that it's getting cheaper and competing with dirty methods on a cost bases it's an easy option - for rich countries, countries desperate to ascend from poverty and everyone in-between.
In a way, if you care about the environment, the best you may be to able to do is invest in green innovation and tech yourself.
It's not happening because your friends fly to Burning Man, it's happening because global corporations are seeking profit above all else. Climate change cannot be combatted while capitalism is tolerated; we would need a global state that dictates what industries are allowed to do. So in that sense, you're right. It's never going to happen. Enjoy your life and don't have kids.
We do unsustainable things largely because the monetary incentives are to do so. We could easily have advanced, sustainable lifestyles.
Emissions from the creation a given good/service can be reduced in 2 ways:
1. Reducing the consumption of said good.
2. Making the good sustainable.
Case 1 means either rationing a good or raising its price. Case 2 means raising the cost of production. In both cases, it costs more to consume the same amount.
A corporation's literal only job is to seek profits above all else. In the US, that's a legal requirement (Edit: I was very wrong about this). That doesn't make a corporation some subversive evil entity, more like an algorithm that finds solutions optimized for one variable. They do what they do because it's what makes them the most money. And remember, they have to operate this way (Edit: I was wrong about legal requirements on this).
So we can change the problem space by making it more expensive to behave in certain ways. Aka, regulation/emissions taxes.
That isn't even approximately true as a blanket statement (labor unions and political parties in the US are, in fact, usually corporations), and, a perusal of actual corporate charters will show that it's not literally true even in specific cases.
> In the US, that's a legal requirement... people face fines or worse if they don't.
No, it's not, though that's a popular myth around the fiduciary dutied of corporate officers. 
Please don’t spread misinformation. That’s not what fiduciary duty actually means. There are plenty of corporations that fund charity efforts without their execs landing in jail. “Profit above all else” is not enshrined in law.
Right, exactly, which is why I took issue with capitalism in my original post. Companies are acting completely rationally under our current economic system, and it's literally destroying the ground from under our feet.
There are two possibilities:
a) Private Jets are an important source of pollution. Then we should complain about private jets all the time, not just when we want to smear the people who use them to travel to climate talks.
b) Or private Jets are not really that much of an issue on a global scale, and we should focus on whatever is actually discussed at Davos, rather than complain about how people get there.
The article makes no effort to quantify, or put into relation, the actual impact of people travelling with private jets, so I really don't see what it brings to the table, except triggering a bit of outrage here and there.
THIS. So many people claim to care about improving things, but then put exactly zero effort into identifying how to best go about that improvement. As a result, they end up focusing entirely on superficial things, which inevitably comes down to asking people to make arbitrary sacrifices or endure meaningless pain in order to "demonstrate" that they care.
The most annoying example in recent memory was the drought in California, during which I was actually chastised by multiple people for… flushing the toilet.
It turns out that the universe is governed by physical laws, and those who care the most about effecting change in the universe will therefore take the time to do the analysis and the math to find out how they can do so effectively. Everyone else is just playing holier-than-thou, or engaging in the millennia-old game of finding some reason to demonize people who are are richer than them.
At some point you have to ask yourself whether you care about appearances or results.
spoiler: it's not them.
The majority of bizjet trips are between airports that don't have direct service. So alternative travel would involve connections with multiple take-offs, which are much more polluting than sitting at cruising altitude.
I highly doubt that non-direct flights on airliners pollute more per passenger than a direct flight on a small jet that isn't necessarily full.
All the small categories of climate sins can be trivialized when considered one by one, but they make up the whole.
Effectively anything other than biking or hiking there would be enough grounds for pointing and screaming "HYPOCRITES!".
And then they'll congratulate themselves for being so visionary and good.
Then I thought about the sort of people that go to these things, and how long the train takes. They're oh so terribly important (sarcasm), that they simply cannot afford the time lost by traveling in anything other than a jet.
And that I think is the problem - from the Davos-attendee right down to you and I with our cars + central heating/air-con: we all want things to improve, but we also all value (consciously or otherwise) our own comfort/time/convenience more
"Well OF COURSE most people should take the train to Davos. Absolutely! Its the climate friendly choice! I had to take a jet though because I am very busy."
(of course, why they even need so much security is another thing)
I hope it isn't too late to escape this vicious cycle.
That is why I suspect the only solutions to climate change are:
* Develop an energy source which has a lower-cost and equal practicality to carbon-emitting sources, or
* Find a way to mitigate the effects of carbon emissions.
Otherwise, conservation in rich countries is just going to be replaced by consumption of the now cheaper oil/coal in developing ones.
I don't think it is realistic to ask people with far fewer conveniences (washing machines) to abandon their hopes of a better life by conserving (if people won't give up private jets, can you really expect much poorer people to give up more necessary conveniences?)
And your actions do have an effect: by providing an example to others, making it more likely they too will participate; and economic, by reducing the income generated from the activity.
Silent Spring was written by a Rachel Carson and had real impact. However, her personal lifestyle was irrelevant.
PS: As to someone going first, that is not an issue when say a state adds a sales tax. In such cases the first person to pay the tax is a sign that it's already in place.
No one said your singular vote (with your wallet) would change everything. But just like voting you help push things in the right direction. And you can, with additional effort, influence more people to vote the same way as you.
Now consider the impact of the right 40,000 people voting differently in the 2016 US Presidential elections. All sorts of things would look very different, including action being taken to fight climate change.
One person can make a difference, by influencing others. But you have to be smart about it. You can't just decide to fly less, and then declare that you're making a difference because one person can make a difference.
Rich people flying less won't do anything to convince governments to fight climate change, so what's the point?
So I am extremely conscious of what the effects of climate change will mean for me, and for anyone living similarly close to the sea and at sea-level.
Which is exactly why I don't think it matters what a bunch of stupendously wealthy capitalists can come up with. We need widespread systematic change, and it needs to come from the people, not the so-called elite. As has been shown before, the ideas and initiatives of the elite are very often explicitly harmful to the general population.
Look an hourly demand curve chart for a central air conditioned house in Sacramento in mid summer, vs watt-hours produced during the same hours of the same day by a rooftop 10kW size pv system.
In the Southeast, AC is also about dehumidifying the air.
Not quite true, actually. Shifted by few hours.
Individual behavior obviously matters but it's a drop in the bucket compared to corporate polluters.
I really dislike the insinuation that all those companies could voluntarily change their behavior and stay in business. There's no incentive for them to eat the cost of that negative externality, and their competition would immediately come along and take their customers by offering the same products at a cheaper price. We are the ones buying the cheap crap. It's cheap, we want it, so we buy it. Those companies might be enabling us, but if they didn't provide it, another one would step in.
This is why regulation is so important vs. pure advocacy and technology solutions. Consumers are buying things without paying for the harm that product inflicts on the environment.
> This is partly due to the long distances travelled, he said, “but also possibly due to business rivals not wanting to be seen to be outdone by one another”
I don't think we can expect anything substantive coming of a meeting like this.
Has anything ever?
There was only one 747 in attendance, from UAE. Then some Boeing BBJs, one Tu-204 and and then lots of Falcons / Gulfstreams / Globals.
If image was important then BBJs would have been the minimum.
It is not clear from this article that most of the attendees are even pretending to be concerned with global warming.
So, while this is certainly tragic, the act is not as hypocritical, nor as obviously ironic, as The Guardian would like us to think.
Like last year: if the politicians gathered at this conference agree and do anything - literally anything at all - to combat climate change that they wouldn't have done otherwise, the effect of their plane flights will be dwarfed by whatever thing, no matter how tiny, they agreed to do.
"Leaders working on world hunger problem ate lunch, exacerbating problem"
"Leaders working on global clean water drank three pitchers of water"
"President says we need to reduce CO2 emissions, but attended Boy Scout Jamboree where marshmallows were toasted"
All of this is "I am very intelligent" territory. https://thenib.com/mister-gotcha
> "Leaders working on global clean water drank three pitchers of water"
In both of those scenarios, the goal is to make it possible so everybody can do those things. The leaders working on world hunger, want everybody to be able to eat lunch like them. The leaders working on global clean water want everybody to be able to drink 3 pitchers of water without having to worry if they will get sick.
The leaders at the climate conference are discussing policies that would encourage/mandate that fewer people took plan trips, and that private jets were more expensive to fly.
In many cases, they really don't. Or they agree to worse things in "exchange" for positive things.
That's the irony.
I know it's popular to hate on the global elite and jump all over their hypocrisy at any opportunity, but we need to take a long, hand look at ourselves for a minute. There are no headlines right now proclaiming outrage over the number of people flying private jets to go on fancy vacations, but tons of headlines about people flying jets to this climate talk. It's crazy and irrational for us to scream about people using private jets for events that are trying to help the world but then ignore all the selfish personal uses of private jets that are constantly happening for more frivolous reasons.
The outcome of talks like these is tremendously important if we want to address climate change; if allowing people to spend a little extra jet fuel will help encourage better attendance and ensure the attendees feel refreshed and sharp when they arrive, then that seems like an okay tradeoff to me. The extra CO2 being emitted here really is a tiny drop in the bucket.
EDIT: Judging by the silent downvotes, I guess people would rather just cling to their blind outrage than think critically about their own reactions to these things. Disappointing.
Everyone above that, certainly in the Davos Private Equity set, understand its just a chance to create a supranational currency using something other than income taxes/bonds as its credit/debit method.
Its silly to suggest Switzerland do something like that: Why make it more difficult for this to happen?
Edit: the idea isn't to tax air travel to death, but to have a sufficient level of tax so that ordinary citizens can accept the environmental taxes that they must pay on polluting activities (some of which they can't avoid -- e.g commuting to work which is a necessity, contrary to fly private jets).
2. "Vintage Rolls Royce which seated Mahatma Gandhi and Queen of England fetches $705,300" http://luxurylaunches.com/transport/vintage_rolls_royce_whic...