Sunday, 16 December 2007

Fuel Protest in Maidstone

Well, there wasn't one as far as I could tell, but that shouldn't stop me giving my opinion on the issue!!!

I have a great deal of sympathy with the protesters, but I think the real issue gets lost in protectionism, nimbyism and rants of swingeing taxes.

People should have fair, equal access to fuel and this means fuel that they can afford but at a level that doesn't cause runaway climate change. Our independent farmers have taken repeated bashings from supermarkets, changing workforce patterns and no fuel price hikes, yet it is with these people that the future of the country really lies. Local food production is one of the most important planks in the fight against climate change, globalisation and so on - it must not be allowed to fail.

We are entering a period of 'peak oil'. Demand for oil is becoming higher than supply. We are not running out yet but we can't extract it quickly enough to keep up with demand - therefore the price of oil rises and oil companies will get even richer (is this possible?). We are also entering a pivotal period to tackle climate change, only 10 years left to avoid the worst of it (so Bali decides to procrastinate for another couple of years to appease the US).

The answer to both crises is simple.

1. Fair and equitable shares of fuel at a level that reduces CO2 outputs by 90% by 2030 in the UK. Adoption of Contraction and Convergence at a global level, so that each country is allowed to emit a level of CO2 based on population and that fits with tackling climate change, but also allows for the excess quotas to be traded.

2. Adoption of the same principle at a UK level. Each person is allocated an allowance that can meet their needs with the option of trading excess quotas as some people won't use it all. This allows for absolute regulation of demand and therefore will mean that prices for fuel are kept in check, avoiding the ravages of fuel poverty. To be able to use more than the quota, then people will need to pay through the nose in the quota market, and those who use less that the quota can make money on the spare carbon credits.

The quota, personal and international, can be regulated to ensure they fit with climate change, with the UK reducing its current usage by 90% by 2030 and poorer countries not having to make substantial cuts. This is the fair way to tackle climate change!


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