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« The long death of environmentalism | Main | Bob Carter in Quadrant »
Tuesday
Mar012011

Econowoo

The Royal Society of Edinburgh has produced a report on how Scotland should move to a low-carbon economy. This seems to demonstrate that the spirit of Chairman Mao's `Great Leap Forward' is alive and well and living in Auld Reekie. Yes folks, the answer to all our problems is a plan to be developed in Holyrood.

Here are the report's recommendations:

1. The UK Government should urgently improve the infrastructure and management of the electricity grid in Scotland to optimise the development of renewable energy and to permit the export of surplus renewable energy.

2. The Scottish and UK Governments need to retrofit existing regulation to achieve a balance with the need to reduce carbon emissions.

3. The Scottish Government should work with local authorities and businesses to align and sharpen regulation in order to achieve a step change in energy efficiency in buildings and transport.

4. The Scottish Government and local authorities should jointly introduce truly integrated polices in order to achieve effective reductions in emissions at a regional level.

5. The Scottish Government should develop a spatially-referenced national land use plan integrated with regional strategic plans in order to optimise carbon sequestration

6. The finance industry should take a lead and work with government to create the business environment that will mobilise private finance in support of a low-carbon society.

7. All organisations should appraise their goals and practices in the light of the urgency to achieve a low-carbon society.

8. Local authorities should integrate and embed their low-carbon policies across all their various functions.

9. The Scottish Government and local authorities should actively assist local communities to introduce low-carbon initiatives.

10. Closer engagement is needed between people, civil society, market and state in the pursuit of Scotland’s low-carbon vision.

 

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Reader Comments (73)

No surprises given the membership list...

Professor Alan Werritty FRSE (Deputy Chair).
Emeritus Professor of Physical Geography, School of the Environment, and UNESCO Centre for Water Law, Policy and Science, University of Dundee

Mrs Erica Caldwell FRSGS.
Hon. President of the Scottish Association of Geography Teachers; Senior Examiner, SQA; Former Faculty Head, Carnoustie High School

Professor Colin Campbell.
Science Leader, Soils Group, The Macaulay Institute, Visiting Professor Department of Soil and Environment, Swedish Agricultural Sciences University (SLU).

Dr Andrew Dlugolecki.
Former Director of General Insurance Development at Aviva; Member of the UK Adaptation Sub-Committee on Climate Change

Professor Nick Hanley.
Professor of Environmental Economics, University of Stirling

Dr Andrew Kerr.
Director of the Edinburgh Centre on Climate Change

Professor Janette Webb.
Professor of Sociology of Organisations, Institute of Governance,School in Social and Political Science, University of Edinburgh

Mar 1, 2011 at 11:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterChris

11. The Scottish Parliament, and local authorities should make redundant all of their environmental advisors, and use the money saved to build regional nuclear power stations, selling surplus energy to the English, if they are too stupid to follow the same example

Mar 1, 2011 at 11:51 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charley

Your comparison with chairman Mao is very apt. Seldom have governments been so far behind the curve. Surely they will wake up soon? Perhaps we need to take to the streets!

Mar 1, 2011 at 11:58 AM | Unregistered CommenterDavid C

12. The Scottish Parliament should disregard all advice from RSE and engage some proper engineers and scientists to guide a policy giving a secure energy and electricity supply and to maximise CO2 production to assist plant growth in a cooling climate.

Mar 1, 2011 at 12:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

13. The Sassenachs to pay for all of the above.

Mar 1, 2011 at 12:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterJack Savage

"The Scottish Parliament should disregard all advice from RSE and engage some proper engineers and scientists to guide a policy giving a secure energy and electricity supply and to maximise CO2 production to assist plant growth in a cooling climate"

Not to mention the benefits of cheaper energy for industrial development and to promote competition with cheap labour economies. Or have we given up on industry altogether?

Mar 1, 2011 at 12:18 PM | Unregistered Commentermarchesarosa

Oh dear. What an embarrassing report. It is interesting that Number 1 goes against what the Royal SocEd said about 5 years ago - namely no point in building renewables a long way from the demand. And number 5 (carbon sequestration) - what planet are these people on?

With Booker's recent articles in the Telegraph and Mail, I am not sure if this very negative report on the economics of renewables was picked up by anyone outwith Scotland:

http://politics.caledonianmercury.com/2011/02/28/new-report-casts-doubt-on-scotland%E2%80%99s-role-as-the-%E2%80%98saudi-arabia-of-renewables%E2%80%99/

Basically it concluded that what has happened in the Netherlands and Spain is very likely to happen here. The report found that:

* For every job created in the renewable sector in Scotland, another 1.1 jobs are lost elsewhere in economy. The situation is even worse for the rest of the UK, where 3.7 jobs are lost for every job created in the renewables sector. This is because, the economists claimed, the money which is being poured into renewables is therefore then not available to stimulate other parts of the economy.
* Electricity consumers elsewhere in the UK subsidise the industry in Scotland by £330 million a year through increased bills. Scotland has by far the largest slice of the renewables industry while the money needed to pay for it is raised throughout the whole of the UK.
* The Renewables Obligation, which raises the price of electricity generated by renewable sources, costs Scottish consumers £100 million a year.
* There are only 1,100 people directly employed by the renewable sector in Scotland and the eventual total of permanent jobs are likely to be of a similar magnitude, significantly lower than Scottish Government predictions of 50,000 long-term jobs.
* The report acknowledges that 48,000 manufacturing and support jobs could be created over time but these will only be temporary and will disappear as soon as the renewables infrastructure is built.

Mar 1, 2011 at 12:20 PM | Unregistered Commenterlapogus

This piffle could only come from people who have never had a real job.

It's a sort of Town Hall/Local Authority speak that you have to be brainwashed into.

Mar 1, 2011 at 12:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterDougS

What is the connection with Holyrood, as this is completely RSE inspired?

Mar 1, 2011 at 12:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterMac

I sense a great deal of hostility towards Scotland and the Scots.

You don't want to be pi$$ing off folk or their institutions who are sitting on huge reserves of fossil fuel - oil, gas and coal.

Mar 1, 2011 at 12:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterMac

Why can't we make a law that all such 'cAGW conferences' should take place in the open, no matter what the weather, and that participants are only allowed to walk there.
Further - all past and future participants have to document that they live and work in places with zero carbon footprints.

That'll teach'em!

Mar 1, 2011 at 12:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterViv Evans

Why is it that no-one ever points out that even the UK as a whole cannot have the slightest effect on a global scale?

The annual increase in Chinese emissions is greater than the annual total for the UK. There is no physical mechanism by which emissions reduction policy in England, Scotland, Wales and NI - collectively or individually - can have any measurable effect on future climate.

Once the absolute facts are established, all that remains is terrifyingly expensive, economically and socially damaging gesture politics.

This is, in effect, a betrayal of the electorate by its representatives for ideological and political motives.

It is a miserable, shaming spectacle that will ultimately rebound on the protagonists via the ballot box.

What a pity they are too stupid, arrogant and ill-informed to appreciate this.

Mar 1, 2011 at 12:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

OMG

9 out of the 10 rules contain the word or refer directly to 'government'.
How can anyone not see that this is the road to a complete government takeover of society?

Bishop, please keep telling it to everyone, now that there's still hope!

Mar 1, 2011 at 12:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterScarface

I think it s fine idea to have ones future energy policy guided by a Professor of Sociology of Organisations. I'm sure Scotland used to have a reputation for producing some of the worlds finest engineers. They must be turning in their graves.

Mar 1, 2011 at 12:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Mac
No problem with Scotland and the Scots, just the governing classes, whether in Holyrood or Whitehall.

Mar 1, 2011 at 12:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid C

Using Wikipedia, I assume this is correct?

Holyrood, a metonym for the Scottish Parliament, or the Scottish Parliament Building, so named because they are in Holyrood, Edinburgh.

Mar 1, 2011 at 12:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterKevin

Truly scary. Destined to fail spectacularly, and with significant human cost, like Mao's Backyard Furnace policy - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Backyard_furnace

Mar 1, 2011 at 12:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterNicholas Hallam

And Whitehall refers to British Parliament or 'the heart of London'?

Mar 1, 2011 at 1:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterKevin

All RSE are doing is appealing to government to do something. Whether the Scottish government or the UK government can or want to do anything as demaded by the RSE in the 'age of austerity' is very much open to question. You cannot stimulate the economy based on expensive energy solutions. You can however protect the economy by ensuring energy security. Energy security means a mix of fossil-fuel, nuclear and renewable soultions, and not one preferred over others based on pseudo-science.

Mar 1, 2011 at 1:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterMac

The Scots have all the fossil fuels. The French have all the nuclear power stations. The English have solar panels and wind turbines on their roofs. It would see that England can only ensure energy security by building more houses.

If you don't get the energy mix right the economy will falter. That is the major point that RSE are missing.

Mar 1, 2011 at 1:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterMac

Mac
The only logical explanation is that England and Scotland are in competition to produce the world's dumbest energy policy.

Adopting the strategy as detailed above would put Scotland in a clear lead.

Chris Huhne would have to come up with something even more stupid. Everyone to have a tube stuffed up their rectum, feeding a backpack mounted bladder, enabling methane to be the new "natural" gas?

Mar 1, 2011 at 1:25 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charley

We had one chance... when we were one of leading nations with Nuclear.

The French have now cornered that market. Big capital projects like fusion can only be afforded by Japan and China.

So where is this technology that is going pave the roads with green? Any technology development will not be labour intensive, and such is the global market, anything promising will be bought straight away by multi-nationals for their development centres (none of which will be in the UK.) And such technology will be manufactured where it is cheaper - no manufacturing jobs in the UK.

In the 1960's you could just about get away with this when Britain made things, companies were UK based, and had certain markets to itself. Harold Wilson's world.

This is just fantasy. Green fantasy. Green porn.

Mar 1, 2011 at 1:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterJiminy Cricket

I love the normative statements littered through the "recommendations":

"The finance industry should take a lead and work with government to create the business environment that will mobilise private finance in support of a low-carbon society."

They should should they?

Mar 1, 2011 at 1:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterGeckko

At leat three of the authors work for Macaulay Land Use Research Institute which is funded by the Scottish government

Mar 1, 2011 at 1:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterJason F

Probably read better in the original Chinese.

Mar 1, 2011 at 1:44 PM | Unregistered Commentermitcheltj

I think they should wait for the Berkeley Report...

Prof Muller of Berkeley uni is collecting ALL the temp records, and using real stats, supported by real statisticians and doing the temp record all over again..

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VbR0EPWgkEI&feature=player_detailpage

Lookat about 30 mins for the piece on 'climategate'

Mar 1, 2011 at 1:54 PM | Unregistered Commenterconfused

7. All organisations should appraise their goals and practices in the light of the urgency to achieve a low-carbon society.

Unfortunately, we already have low-carbon societies across the planet - they are known collectively as the third-world.

Mar 1, 2011 at 1:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterMac

How will the finance industry create a business environment that will mobilise private finance in support of a low-carbon society ? Basically it's not enough that they want to tax us for this in order to pay the subsidies, they also want us to put our hard-earned savings into these ridiculous schemes. So we subsidise our own investments (or those rich enough to make them). Surely that is highly regressive and a massive conflict of interest.

Mar 1, 2011 at 2:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterFred Bloggs

Interesting that, except for points 1 and 3, everything is based on the assumption that carbon is the root of all evil - an assumption that has yet to be proven.

Mar 1, 2011 at 2:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterJack Maloney

They have the makings of a Central Committee of some Carbonism (Anti) Party, but there are some details still to be put in place, as Mao himself has prescribed:

"We must affirm anew the discipline of the Party, namely:

(1) the individual is subordinate to the organization;
(2) the minority is subordinate to the majority;
(3) the lower level is subordinate to the higher level; and
(4) the entire membership is subordinate to the Central Committee.

Whoever violates these articles of discipline disrupts Party unity. "

Insubordination, then, is the problem.

It stands between us and a low-carbon dawn, that low-calorie vision so far sustained in the minds of a few by little more than low-calibre pronouncements from on high. We need both Higher Calibre and Lower Carbon, and so many Vision Calories that the very heather will go on fire! Let me finish with more sage advice from the Chairman himself on the kind of discipline and dedication required:

"We should encourage comrades to take the interests of the whole into account. Every Party member, every branch of work, every statement and every action must proceed from the interests of the whole Party; it is absolutely impermissible to violate this principle. "

Mar 1, 2011 at 2:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Shade

Of course the scientists, engineers and energy professionals (finance, management etc.) are notably absent from the commission. As are people with real jobs who might know how to do things. The skill of influencing throgh discussion and debate is replaced by prescriptive nonsense from the new elite classes - the politicians, academic priests and bureaucrats who demand taxes from those who do real work and then wish to order those same taxpayers around to do their nonsense bidding.

Thankfully other countries are not so stupid. I have just come from a meeting with the Energy Minister of a country the same size as Scotland, with twice the population, with 4 times the economic growth, and the opposite energy policy. How much longer will Scotland be rich enough to pay for these wise fools, while the other country moves past it in economic and political importance, despite its history of poverty.

Mar 1, 2011 at 2:32 PM | Unregistered Commenterjheath

The great engineers, inventors and thinkers that once proliferated in Scots culture seem to have either died out or gone underground in Scotland itself and those educated and trained in the Marxist tradition seem to be in the ascendency. The committee is populated with members who have neither wisdom, common-sense or expertise in any practical or worthwhile field and are attempting to return Scotland to the dark ages of subsistence farming, fishing and serfdom. The Society's aims with this report are truly bizarre.

Mar 1, 2011 at 2:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlexander K

Kevin
And Whitehall refers to British Parliament or 'the heart of London'?

Whitehall

Mar 1, 2011 at 2:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

Don Pablo,

Whitehall? Is it a metonym for British Parliament? Or something else? Are you saying Whitehall means Whitehall? lol.

I can read all about it on Wikipedia, but not sure if you guys are using it as a metonym for British Parliament like Holyrood is for Scottish Parliament.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whitehall

Mar 1, 2011 at 2:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterKevin

Apologies to Scots people but

1. The UK Government should urgently improve the infrastructure and management of the electricity grid in Scotland to optimise the development of renewable energy and to permit the export of surplus renewable energy

So, 'UK' taxpayers should massively subsidise Scotland's infrastructure to support the massively subsidised renewable energy foreign companies want to build in Scotland to export subsidy payments. For this generosity, Scotland will then export, ie sell any 'surplus' renewable energy it might make. Assuming we could afford that. For a country clamoring for independence, this does not seem like a very good deal. Personally I'd rather see the money spent on nuclear so we can export more affordable energy to Scotland when their green dreams fade, and reality dawns.

Mar 1, 2011 at 3:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterAtomic Hairdryer

Golf Charley

The only logical explanation is that England and Scotland are in competition to produce the world's dumbest energy policy.

Don't forget the Welsh energy policy, which is to cover the Welsh mountains with white elephants.

Mar 1, 2011 at 3:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

@Kevin,

To (try) to clear up your confusion... "Westminster" is used as the metonym for the British Parliament - it's based in the Palace of Westminster. "Downing Street" tends to be used in reference to government - the Prime Minister is based at No. 10... "Whitehall" is often used in reference to the Civil Service - the main offices of state cluster around that area.

HTH.

Mar 1, 2011 at 3:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterPogo

I feel that these people warrant that excellent Scottish expression:
'Awa' with the faeries'....

Mar 1, 2011 at 3:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid

@jheath

The UK is destined to become a living museum for tourists... though with all those windmills I am not sure Scotland's beauty will be so attractive...

Mar 1, 2011 at 3:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterJiminy Cricket

I note at least two geographers in The Committee, and at least one economist, and one sociologist. Are geographers/climatologists destined to join the sociologists and economists in the margins of science? That involves aspirations to scientific respectability ('physics envy'), coupled with a pronounced prescriptive tendency with which to 'improve society'. It also requires an astonishing ability to explain everything that has happened, along with an inability to predict with any more success than you would get with persistence or potluck They will bring a fresh alarmism which sociology has not enjoyed since the eugenics scare of the early 20th century, nor economics since the scaremongering of the Club of Rome in the 1970s. Perhaps a good going scare is the admission ticket to this twilight zone?

Psychology is a more respectable science, and it is to that I think we shall have to turn to get deeper insight into what is going on in the scary penumbra. I'd mandate a psychologist to attend every meeting of The Committee, and provide diagnostic commentary to help us all, in due course, make sense of how come the lights keep going out?

Mar 1, 2011 at 4:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Shade

Seems the Tall Forehead type professors over your side of the pond are about as disconnected from reality as the pinheads we have over here.

Must be the lack of oxygen way up there in those Ivory towers, affects the brain, distorts the decision making process, encourages self-delusional beliefs in their infallability.

Mar 1, 2011 at 4:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterFred from Canuckistan

In this particular case I suggest the use of "Whitehall" is quite apt:-

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whitehall_farce

Mar 1, 2011 at 4:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterGreen Sand

Only our Mickey Mouse "government" in Holyrood could come up with something like this. It makes one embarassed to be Scots. I contacted the "Energy Savings Trust" for advice on how to reduce my fuel bills, and, as I live in an 18th Century house which doesn't have cavity walls or a loft that can be lagged, they came up with a big round "O" - in spite of the fact that I have found a couple of products which will help. The whole thing is a complete and utter SCAM - a RIP-OFF - as is the whole Green concept.

Mar 1, 2011 at 4:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterPFM

John Shade - "Psychology is a more respectable science, and it is to that I think we shall have to turn to get deeper insight into what is going on in the scary penumbra."

Actually, a couple of psychologist Fellows (Richard Byrne and me) made individual submissions, although you have scroll through several layers to find them. We had a rather poor opinion of the process. It was a long time ago - were I writing now, I would be a little bolder.

Mar 1, 2011 at 4:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlan Kennedy

Alan Kennedy

Enlightening. Many thanks.

Mar 1, 2011 at 5:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

I read the report, and it was a joke.

Mar 1, 2011 at 5:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterScottish Sceptic

Just dumb question.

If Scotland were to gain independence from UK (Salmond is after all the leader of the nationalists whose prime purpose is that), would they leave all their oil and coal in the ground to satisfy their green aspirations?

Mar 1, 2011 at 6:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterLatimer Alder

Pogo,

Thanks...that helped a lot. Now I can follow you folks better.

Mar 1, 2011 at 6:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterKevin

Phillip Bratby said: "Don't forget the Welsh energy policy, which is to cover the Welsh mountains with white elephants."

Gotta get the albedo up somehow and sheep are too small.

PFM said: "Only our Mickey Mouse "government" in Holyrood could come up with something like this. It makes one embarassed to be Scots."

Much of what is being suggested requires the business community to lend a hand in some form or other and some require assistance from either local Government or the British Government. It is a wishlist. Might they be suggesting such a ludicrous policy programme safe in the knowledge it won't be implemented? They can still take the credit for suggesting it and blame everyone else under the sun for never getting round to implementing it.

Mar 1, 2011 at 6:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterGareth

Gareth

Gotta get the albedo up somehow and sheep are too small.

;-)

Mar 1, 2011 at 6:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

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