Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Environment versus Economics

It was heartening to hear UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon's speech at the climate change meeting in Poland (there seems to be one of these every month!). If you missed it he said that even though the economic crisis is serious, the threat of global warming is still there.

It is interesting to see the change in rhetoric over the last year. First we had oil prices steadily increase to over $140 per barrel. When that happened we had everybody stumbling over each other to claim how green they were.

Now that oil is back down below $50 per barrel, and the credit crisis has had its effects, and what you hear is "we must get out of this economic crisis first".

So what happened to the "green" economy? Well, there never was such a thing. It was all green washing. Yes, there are companies in the fields of wind power, etc. But I am speaking of the "traditional companies" who claim to be greening like the coal industry (heard of "clean coal" - there is no such thing).

At the EU meeting just completed in Brussels, the coal industry in Poland and heavy industry in Germany both want exemptions from global warming requirements. Chemical companies in Europe opposed recent regulations on chemicals. Airlines do not want to have there emissions included in carbon trading schemes. Oil and mining companies want to be exempt from restrictions in parks and wildlife preserves.

In other words, everybody wants to be exempt. So if we give these exemptions, who is left?

And as the US auto companies show, the most polluting and inefficient industries then come whining to the people. Come on!

To paraphrase that famous saying, "It is the environment stupid".

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