Monday, September 25, 2006

"Lear Jet Liberals" and an interesting US perspective on Kyoto and Europe

It is rare to read an article with so many quotable lines in it. The article in question is written by Debra Saunders from the Real Clear Politics website.

If it were not so amusing you could be forgiven for thinking that we are in fact "all doomed". It does however raise some good points that deserve a little attention.

Whilst the whole article is a "must read" I feel I must quote a few of the more salient points as they touch on a few of the thoughts I had on the flight over from the UK to the recent World Congress of Environmental Economists in Kyoto, Japan.

Limousine liberals, move over. You've been out-glammed by Lear Jet liberals who burn beaucoup fossil fuels in the sky as they soar across the globe fighting global warming.

Last week, they flew to their Mecca, the Clinton Global Initiative conference in New York. For the left-leaning and loaded, this is the meet that has it all -- the mega-rich paying to be seen caring about poor people and the environment, while posing for photos with former President Clinton.

After seeing the hundreds on environmental economists that had flown thousands of miles to present 30 minute papers to generally bored looking participants in Kyoto I must admit similar thoughts crossed my mind except for the mega-rich bit and the fact we probably (surely) all spent 15 hours in economy - bang goes the chances of getting a paper accepted next time. There was no Bill Clinton but the Prince of Japan (with the cool tash) was there for a while.

On the Kyoto agreement:

And forget that Kyoto has the depth of a cowboy movie set. The storefronts look like a general store and saloon, but when actors walk through the door, there's nothing there. The overwhelming majority of industrialized nations that signed onto Kyoto amidst much fanfare haven't cut their greenhouse gases.

In June, the United Nations reported that only two Western European signatories -- Britain and Sweden -- are on target to meet their greenhouse-gas reduction targets, which call for a worldwide reduction of 5 percent below 1990 levels in 2012.

Hurray for us. The defence for Bush?

Spain is spewing more than 40 percent above its 1990 levels. Canada is 30 percent over. By comparison, Dubya's America looks good -- emitting 16 percent more greenhouse gases than in 1990.

That's alright then. 16% increase can't be that bad can it?

What Debra said about Branson's offer (see previous post):

The big news of the CGI was an announcement by Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Atlantic Airways, that he would donate $3 billion over 10 years -- his personal profits from his airline and train businesses -- to global warming research. That's more money than I'll ever see, or spend on R&D, so bully for Branson. Still, it should be noted that Branson said some of the money will go back to his own corporations' research. That's not quite charity.

Fair comment but as stated below, better than a kick in the contrails.

Finally some amusing comments on us Europeans (this must be golf related surely).

Besides, Branson hails from a country where some enviros believe flying is worse than a mega-SUV. The bishop of London recently referred to flying abroad on holiday as "a symptom of sin."

Europeans are acutely aware of the effect flying has on one's carbon footprint. Flying is the fastest growing source of greenhouse gases in the United Kingdom. As the Guardian reported, greenhouse gas emissions from flying more than doubled from 1990 to 2004, to 5.5 percent of the United Kingdom's emissions. It would not surprise me if someday Great Britain legislates a limit on short flights -- say, London to Edinburgh or Paris, trips you can make in a car or train about as fast as flying. That would be bad news for Virgin Express.

Is this saying that the UK actually has a good reputation for "greeness"? Perhaps the message is getting through?


Lars Smith said...

It is almost impossible to read the block quotes with this color scheme, at least in the Mozilla firefox browser.

Rob Elliott said...

Thanks Lars - I have checked using Mozilla (explorer is fine) and you are right - the whole thing is a mess.

Back to the drawing board. Thanks for pointing this out.