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Text of the G8 Climate Change, Clean Energy and Sustainable Development

by environmentalist Tue Jul 12th, 2005 at 11:41:54 PM EST

Agreement and Plan of Action

G8 Gleneagles 2005 agreement

1. We face serious and linked challenges in tackling climate change, promoting
clean energy and achieving sustainable development globally.

This is rather long my friends, but worth the read.

(a) Climate change is a serious and long-term challenge that has the potential
to affect every part of the globe. We know that increased need and use of energy from fossil fuels, and other human activities, contribute in large part to increases in greenhouse gases associated with the warming of our Earth's surface. While uncertainties remain in our understanding of climate science, we
know enough to act now to put ourselves on a path to slow and, as the science justifies, stop and then reverse the growth of greenhouse gases.

(b) Global energy demands are expected to grow by 60% over the next 25 years. This has the potential to cause a significant increase in greenhouse gas
emissions associated with climate change.

(c) Secure, reliable and affordable energy sources are fundamental to economic stability and development. Rising energy demand poses a challenge to energy security given increased reliance on global energy markets.

(d) Reducing pollution protects public health and ecosystems. This is particularly true in the developing world. There is a need to improve air and
water quality in order to alleviate suffering from respiratory disease, reduce public health costs and prolong lives.

(e) Around 2 billion people lack modern energy services. We need to work with our partners to increase access to energy if we are to support the achievement of the goals agreed at the Millennium Summit in 2000.

2. We will act with resolve and urgency now to meet our shared and multiple objectives of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improving the global
environment, enhancing energy security and cutting air pollution in conjunction with our vigorous efforts to reduce poverty.

3. It is in our global interests to work together, and in partnership with major emerging economies, to find ways to achieve substantial reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and our other key objectives, including the promotion of
low-emitting energy systems. The world's developed economies have a responsibility to act.

4. We reaffirm our commitment to the UNFCCC and to its ultimate objective to stabilise greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that
prevents dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. We reaffirm the importance of the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
Change and look forward to its 2007 report.

5. We face a moment of opportunity. Over the next 25 years, an estimated $16 trillion will need to be invested in the world's energy systems. According to
the IEA, there are significant opportunities to invest this capital cost-effectively in cleaner energy technologies and energy efficiency. Because
decisions being taken today could lock in investment and increase emissions for decades to come, it is important to act wisely now.

6. We will, therefore take further action to:

(a) promote innovation, energy efficiency, conservation, improve policy,regulatory and financing frameworks; and accelerate deployment of cleaner
technologies, particularly lower-emitting technologies

(b) work with developing countries to enhance private investment and transfer of technologies, taking into account their own energy needs and priorities.

(c) raise awareness of climate change and our other multiple challenges, and the means of dealing with them; and make available the information which business and consumers need to make better use of energy and reduce emissions.

  1. Adaptation to the effects of climate change due to both natural and human factors is a high priority for all nations, particularly in areas that may experience the most significant change, such as the Arctic, the African Sahel and other semi-arid regions, low-lying coastal zones, and small island states also subject to subsidence. As we work on our own adaptation strategies, we will work with developing countries on building capacity to help them improve their resilience and integrate adaptation goals into sustainable development strategies.

  2. Tackling climate change and promoting clean technologies, while pursuing energy security and sustainable development, will require a global concerted effort over a sustained period.

  3. We therefore agree to take forward a Dialogue on Climate Change, Clean Energy and Sustainable Development, and invite other interested countries with significant energy needs to join us. We will:

(a) address the strategic challenge of transforming our energy systems to create a more secure and sustainable future;

(b) monitor implementation of the commitments made in the Gleneagles Plan of Action and explore how to build on this progress; and

(c) share best practice between participating governments.

  1. We will ask our Governments to take the Dialogue forward. We welcome Japan's offer to receive a report at the G8 Summit in 2008.

  2. We will work with appropriate partnerships, institutions and initiatives including the International Energy Agency (IEA) and World Bank:

(a) The IEA will advise on alternative energy scenarios and strategies aimed at a clean clever and competitive energy future.

(b) The World Bank will take a leadership role in creating an new framework for clean energy and development, including investment and financing.

12. Following the success of the Energy and Environment Ministerial Roundtable held in London in March, the UK will hold meetings to take the Dialogue forward in the second half of this year, including by identifying specific implementation plans for carrying out each of the commitments under the Plan of

  1. We welcome the Russian decision to focus on energy in its Presidency of the G8 in 2006 and the programme of meetings that Russia plans to hold.

  2. We acknowledge that the UNFCCC is the appropriate forum for negotiating future action on climate change. Those of us who have ratified the Kyoto
Protocol welcome its entry into force and will work to make it a success.

15. We will work together to advance the goals and objectives we have agreed today to inform the work of the UN Climate Change Conference in Montreal 2005.
We are committed to move forward in that forum the global discussion on long-term co-operative action to address climate change.

Gleneagles Plan of Action

1. We will take forward actions in the following key areas:
*    Transforming the way we use energy
*    Powering a cleaner future
*    Promoting research and development
*    Financing the transition to cleaner energy
*    Managing the impact of climate change
*    Tackling illegal logging
*    Transforming the way we use energy

2. Improvements to energy efficiency have benefits for economic growth and the environment, as well as co-benefits such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions,
preventing pollution, alleviating poverty, improving security of energy supply, competitiveness and improving health and employment.

3. At Evian, we agreed that energy efficiency is a key area for G8 action. And following agreement at the Sea Island Summit in 2004, the 3Rs (Reduce, Reuse,
Recycle) initiative was launched in Tokyo this April -an important step towards encouraging more efficient use of resources and materials, which increases
economic competitiveness whilst decreasing environmental impacts.

4. We also recognise the importance of raising consumer awareness of the environmental impact of their behaviour and choices including through
international efforts such as the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development.


5. To promote energy efficient buildings, we will:
(a) invite the International Energy Agency (IEA) to review existing building standards and codes in developed and developing countries, develop energy
indicators to assess efficiency, and identify policy best practices;

(b) encourage the work of existing partnerships such as the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnerships in outreach to developing countries; and

(c) develop domestic guidelines or standards for the procurement and management of public buildings in our respective countries.


6. To encourage co-ordination of international policies on labelling, standard setting and testing procedures for energy efficiency appliances, we will:

(a) promote the application of the IEA's 1 Watt Initiative;

(b) ask the IEA to undertake a study to review existing global appliance standards and codes, building on its existing capacity on energy efficiency in appliances;

(c) extend the use of clear and consistent labelling to raise consumer awareness of energy consumption of appliances;

(d) work nationally and in co-operation with other countries to seek improvements in the efficiency and environmental performance of products in
priority sectors; and

(e) explore the potential to co-ordinate standards with other countries, building on the examples provided by existing international bodies.
Surface transport

7. We will encourage the development of cleaner, more efficient and lower-emitting vehicles, and promote their deployment, by:

(a) adopting ambitious policies to encourage sales of such vehicles in our countries, including making use of public procurement as appropriate to accelerate market development;

(b) asking the IEA to review existing standards and codes for vehicle efficiency and identify best practice;

(c) encouraging co-operation on technology research, development and, where relevant, deployment in areas including cleaner gasoline and diesel technologies, biofuels, synthetic fuels, hybrid technology, battery performance and hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicles;

(d) continuing our discussions on these issues at the United Kingdom's international conference in November on cleaner, more efficient vehicles; and

(e) raising consumer awareness of the environmental impact of their vehicle choices, including through clear and consistent labelling for relevant energy
consumption, efficiency and exhaust emissions data, and encouraging the provision of clearer information on the result of driving behaviour and choices for mode of transport.


8. We will:

(a) undertake a programme of collaborative work to explore and accelerate the potential for operational advances (including air traffic control and ground
operations) that will continue to enhance safety, improve fuel efficiency and reduce emissions in air transport;

(b) work with the IPCC to provide, as part of its forthcoming Fourth Assessment Report, an up-to-date assessment of the latest evidence on aviation's impacts on the climate;

(c) support climate science research, aimed at improving our understanding of specific issues such as contrails and cirrus cloud effects, to inform
technological and operational responses;

(d) encourage co-ordination among our existing national research programmes on long-term technology developments with the potential to significantly reduce emissions.


9. We will:

(a) Work with the multilateral development banks (MDBs) to expand the use of voluntary energy savings assessments as a part of major investments in new or
existing projects in energy intensive sectors;

(b) invite the IEA to develop its work to assess efficiency performance and seek to identify areas where further analysis of energy efficiency measures by industry sector could add value, across developed and interested developing countries;

(c) develop partnerships, including sectoral and cross-border partnerships, with industry to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions intensity of the major
industrial sectors of our economies; and

(d) continue to support the work of the UNFCCC clearing house on technology transfer TT:Clear in disseminating information on available technologies, and cooperate further on sharing information on best practices and national policies to encourage the deployment of energy efficiency technologies.
Powering a Cleaner Future

  1. Reliable and affordable energy supplies are essential for strong economic growth, both in the G8 countries and in the rest of the world. Access to energy is also critical for poverty alleviation: in the developing world, 2 billion people lack access to modern energy services.

  2. To respond to the scale of the challenges we face, we need to diversify our energy supply mix, including increased use of renewables. Fossil fuels will continue to be an important part of the global energy mix, and we will need to find ways to manage the associated air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. We need to capitalise on all the opportunities available to improve the
efficiency along the entire process chain, from extraction, to energy generation and transmission, and to maximise the large and untapped potential of
lower-emitting alternative sources of energy.

12. We take note of the efforts of those G8 members who will continue to use nuclear energy, to develop more advanced technologies that would be safer, more
reliable and more resistant to diversion and proliferation.

Cleaner Fossil Fuels

13. We will support efforts to make electricity generation from coal and other fossil fuels cleaner and more efficient by:

(a) supporting IEA work in major coal using economies to review, assess and
disseminate widely information on energy efficiency of coal-fired power plants;
and to recommend options to make best practice more accessible;

(b) inviting the IEA to carry out a global study of recently constructed plants, building on the work of its Clean Coal Centre, to assess which are the most cost effective and have the highest efficiencies and lowest emissions, and to disseminate this information widely; and

(c) continuing to work with industry and with national and international research programmes and partnerships on projects to demonstrate the potential of advanced fossil fuel technologies, including clean coal.

14. We will work to accelerate the development and commercialization of Carbon Capture and Storage technology by:

(a) endorsing the objectives and activities of the Carbon Sequestration
Leadership Forum (CSLF), and encouraging the Forum to work with broader civil
society and to address the barriers to the public acceptability of CCS

(b) inviting the IEA to work with the CSLF to hold a workshop on short-term opportunities for CCS in the fossil fuel sector, including from Enhanced Oil
Recovery and CO2 removal from natural gas production;

(c) inviting the IEA to work with the CSLF to study definitions, costs, and scope for 'capture ready' plant and consider economic incentives;

(d) collaborating with key developing countries to research options for geological CO2 storage; and

(e) working with industry and with national and international research programmes and partnerships to explore the potential of CCS technologies,
including with developing countries.

15. We will encourage the capture of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, by:

(a) supporting the Methane to Markets Partnership and the World Bank Global Gas Flaring Reduction Partnership (GGFR), and encouraging expanded participation; and

(b) working bilaterally to support an extension of the World Bank's GGFR Partnership beyond 2006.

Renewable energy

16. We will promote the continued development and commercialisation of renewable
energy by:

(a) promoting the International Action Programme of the Renewables 2004
conference in Bonn, starting with a Conference at the end of 2005, hosted by the
Chinese government, and supporting the goals of the Renewable Energy Policy
Network (REN 21);

(b) welcoming the work of interested parties, including in partnerships, to take
forward the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation, including the Renewable Energy
and Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP) and the Mediterranean Renewable Energy
Partnership (MEDREP);

(c) working with developing countries to provide capacity-building assistance,
develop policy frameworks, undertake research and development, and assess
potential for renewable energy, including bioenergy;

(d) launching a Global Bioenergy Partnership to support wider, cost effective,
biomass and biofuels deployment, particularly in developing countries where
biomass use is prevalent following the Rome International Workshop on Bioenergy;

(e) welcoming the establishment and further development of the range of IEA
implementing agreements on renewable energy.

Electricity Grids

17. We will work with the IEA to:
(a) draw together research into the challenges of integrating renewable energy
sources into networks and optimising the efficiency of grids, and produce a report; and

(b) identify and link "Centres of Excellence" to promote research and
development in the developed and developing world; and

(c) promote workshops during 2006/07 aimed at evaluating and promoting means to overcome technical, regulatory and commercial barriers.

Promoting networks for research and development

18. We recognise the need for increased commitment to, international cooperation
in and co-ordination of research and development of energy technologies. We will
continue to take forward research, development and diffusion of energy
technologies in all the fields identified in the Evian Science and Technology
Action Plan.

19. We express our support for research and development of technologies and
practices that use hydrogen as an energy carrier. We encourage continued support
for the work of the IEA and International Partnership for the Hydrogen Economy
(IPHE) to co-ordinate research efforts in this area.

20. We take note of the Energy Research and Innovation Workshop held in Oxford in May 2005, and will:

(a) work with the IEA to:
build on the work already underway through its implementing agreements to
facilitate cooperation and share energy research findings;reinforce links with the international business community and developing
countries;create an inventory of existing collaborative efforts to facilitate exchange on
their effectiveness; and

(b) raise the profile of existing research networks and encourage broader participation where appropriate; and

(c) seek ways to improve the current arrangements for collaboration between
developed and developing countries, and enhance developing country participation
in existing networks.

Financing the transition to cleaner energy

21. Positive investment climates and effective market models are critical to the
uptake of new technologies and increased access to energy for economic growth.
We recognise that there are a range of tools to support a market-led approach to
cleaner technology and energy resources and that each country will select those
appropriate to its national circumstances.

22. We will:

(a) support a market-led approach to encouraging energy efficiency and
accelerating investment and the deployment of cleaner technologies which will
help transition to a low-emission future;

(b) adopt, where appropriate market-based policy frameworks which:
*support re-investment in capital stock turnover;
*remove barriers to direct investment;
*leverage private capital for clean development;
*use standards, or use pricing and regulatory signals
*    to provide confidence in the near- and long-term value of investments, so as
to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and / or pollutants.

(c) We will promote dialogue on the role, suitability, potential synergies and
timing of various policy approaches within the context of each country's
national circumstances, including:

*developing long-term sectoral, national or international policy frameworks
including goals;

*market-based instruments including fiscal or other incentives for the
development and deployment of technologies, tradable certificates and trading of
credits for reductions of emissions of greenhouse gases or pollutants; and

*project-based and voluntary offset mechanisms.

23. Those of us who have ratified the Kyoto Protocol will :

(a) work to strengthen and develop the implementation of the market mechanisms
(including Joint Implementation, international emissions trading and the Clean
Development Mechanism); and

(b) use our best endeavours to ensure that the CDM Executive Board and related
institutions to support emissions trading are adequately funded by the end of

  1. We acknowledge the valuable role of the Global Environment Facility in facilitating co-operation with developing countries on cleaner, more efficient
energy systems, including renewable energy, and look forward to a successful
replenishment this year, along with the successful conclusion of all outstanding
reform commitments from the third replenishment.

25. We will invite the World Bank and other multilateral development banks
(MDBs) to increase dialogue with borrowers on energy issues and put forward
specific proposals at their annual meetings to:

(a) make the best use of existing resources and financing instruments and
develop a framework for energy investment to accelerate the adoption of
technologies which enable cleaner, more efficient energy production and use;

(b) explore opportunities within their existing and new lending portfolios to
increase the volume of investments made on renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies consistent with the MDBs' core mission of poverty reduction;

(c) work with interested borrower countries with significant energy requirements
to identify less greenhouse gas intensive growth options which meet their priorities; and ensure that such options are integrated into Country Assistance strategies.

(d) develop local commercial capacity to develop and finance cost-effective projects that promote energy efficiency and low-carbon energy sources.

26. We will continue to work through our bilateral development programmes, in
line with our national priorities, to promote more sustainable energy policies worldwide.

  1. We will work with Export Credit Agencies with a view to enhancing the economic and financial viability of cleaner and efficient energy projects.

  2. We will build on the work in other fora, including the UNFCCC Experts Group
on Technology Transfer, to support necessary capacity building, enabling
environments and information dissemination.

29. We will also work through multi-stakeholder partnerships to develop the
policy, regulatory and financing frameworks needed in the major developing
countries to provide a commercially attractive balance of risk and reward to private investors.

Managing the impact of climate change

30. We reaffirm the importance of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
and welcome the extensive analysis of research being undertaken to complete its
Fourth Assessment Report by 2007.

31. All countries need further access to information and to develop the scientific capacity that will allow their governments to integrate climate,
environmental, health, economic and social factors into development planning and resilience strategies. We note that Africa's data deficiencies are greatest and warrant immediate attention.

32. We note the work of the UNFCCC in supporting developing countries to improve
their capacity for adaptation and mitigation, including through the adaptation
priority of the Global Environment Facility.

33. We look forward to further discussions on how development and energy
strategies can be strengthened to build resilience to climate impacts, including
at the Millennium Review Summit in September 2005.

Monitoring and Data Interpretation

34. The G8 made a commitment at Evian to strengthen international cooperation on
global Earth observations. We will continue to exercise leadership in this area,
and welcome the adoption of the 10-year implementation plan for development of
the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS) at the Third Earth
Observations Summit which took place in Brussels in February this year. We will:

(a) move forward in the national implementation of GEOSS in our member states;

(b) support efforts to help developing countries and regions obtain full benefit
from GEOSS, including from the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS) such as
placement of observational systems to fill data gaps, developing of in-country and regional capacity for analysing and interpreting observational data, and development of decision-support systems and tools relevant to local needs;

(c) in particular, work to strengthen the existing climate institutions in Africa, through GCOS, with a view to developing fully operational regional
climate centres in Africa.

Risk Management

35. We will:
(a) Invite the World Bank to develop and implement 'best practice' guidelines
for screening their investments in climate sensitive sectors to determine how their performance could be affected by climate risks, as well as how those risks
can best be managed, in consultation with host governments and local communities; and

(b) invite other major multilateral and bilateral development organisations to adopt the World Bank guidelines, or develop and implement similar guidance.

Tackling illegal logging

36. We recognise the impacts that illegal logging has on the livelihoods of many in the poorest countries in Africa and elsewhere, on environmental degradation, biodiversity loss and deforestation and hence global sustainable development. We particularly recognise the importance of global carbon sinks, including the
Congo Basin and the Amazon.

37. We agree that working to tackle illegal logging is an important step towards
the sustainable management of forests. To tackle this issue effectively requires action from both timber producing and timber consuming countries.

38. We endorse the outcome of the G8 Environment and Development Ministerial
conference on illegal logging. To further our objectives in this area we will
take forward the conclusions endorsed at that meeting, with each country acting
where it can contribute most effectively.

Sorry if you were expecting analysis at this point.  I have none.  Just a question:  Does all this MEAN anything?

Well...is it just words? Or will the words be backed up by any action? And I recall a conversation around ET lately, regarding the  joint G8 leaders announcement on "Global warming", as apparently being a rolling back of standards to several years ago...which, if true, is really, really, disappointing. These are the kind of things where, when "the people" are given one chance to vote on a common European issue, will vote "no" because their so distrustful of and pissed off about the bullsh*t that the "elite politicians" continually try to feed us, while they< take no real action. It's pretty obvious our weather patterns are changing...will anyone in power show some real leadership?

But beyond this...since you posted it, take a stab at it, what is your analysis of this acord (in summary)? I'll be interested to hear...

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia

by whataboutbob on Wed Jul 13th, 2005 at 07:11:32 AM EST
I hate to be such a damn cynic, but I think this long, drawn out document is a bunch of crap.  Its just words on paper.  A lot of warm fuzzies with no real specifics, no real comittments and no force to back it up.

Reads like a whole lot of nothing to me.

Good Morning Europe, I feel cynical today.

Ei lakia tarvita kun sovinnossa eletšen.

by environmentalist on Wed Jul 13th, 2005 at 08:15:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I had a feeling you might have had this analysis...and with good reason, it seems. It will probably take the yelling by countries that will disappear or be heavily damaged to make anything real happen. Other than a principalled (sp?) few, I would guess too many politicians are on the take. Bastards...

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Wed Jul 13th, 2005 at 08:19:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]

I dont really see principles out there and those nations who will really be affected?  I dont see them having any power to scream loud enough.

What really burns me is the climate change thing.  7 of the 8 nations (correct me if I'm wrong) have governments that "believe in" Global Warming - 1, the USA, does not.  One nation has had the power to warp the statement/position of the whole G8.

The others cower.  Ridiculous.

Ei lakia tarvita kun sovinnossa eletšen.

by environmentalist on Wed Jul 13th, 2005 at 08:24:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BTW, Bob, I spent nearly two years as a refugee in CH too.  I hid out on a farm north of Lausanne....

Ei lakia tarvita kun sovinnossa eletšen.
by environmentalist on Wed Jul 13th, 2005 at 08:26:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Would that be in the Jura? Haven't explored up there yet, but hear its beautiful. Actually, on topic, one thing I realy do appreciate about Switzerland is the incredibly comfortable and well organized public transportation system here. It's pretty amazing...once, on a rare accasion that a train was late, they came on and apologized on the PA!! Never would that happen in San Francisco (for example).

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Fri Jul 15th, 2005 at 04:55:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I call it a long list of half-measures. Perhaps you don't actually believe in global warming?

Recall the thermal inertia of the system, which means that even if we stopped adding greenhouse gases COMPLETELY, RIGHT NOW, we'd still be doomed to 400 years of climate change. (That's peer-reviewed science, not BS politics.)
http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/summary/307/5716/1687d?rbfvrToken=bb0031d99db0a1e270cf46d6b70b 067ff98390da

The whole energy thing boils down to two options:
1.) The West can SIGNIFICANTLY reduce its standard of living, or
2.) The West can continue its greedy habits on the back of the third world.
There is no indication whatsoever that we will choose the first option.

For example, wind power. (Not to pick on it, although I know it is popular in this blog community; there are other options as well.) Wind power is environmentally attractive and a practical way to make electricity. It's useless for cars, though. So just following this small example we should be working with China, India, and Africa to bring equitable wind powered electricity to those people. Not out of kindness (although we should also do it out of kindness) but because otherwise they will continue to pump out CO2. And we should be doing the same in the U.S. and Europe.

And then we should be transforming our transportation system from oil-powered cars to electric-powered busses and trains.

That doesn't mean "cleaner fossil fuels," it means NO fossil fuels, RIGHT NOW. It doesn't mean "cleaner gasoline and diesel technologies, biofuels, synthetic fuels, hybrid technology, battery performance and hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicles," it means NO CARS, RIGHT NOW. It doesn't mean "working to make the Kyoto treaty a success," it means facing up to reality.

While this sounds pretty radical, it simply reflects what is actually needed in order to avoid the flooding of much of low-lying coastal areas, like the Netherlands, Florida, and Bangladesh.

Point to a politician (in office, not a member of the loyal opposition) who supports such radical change--there aren't any. The reality is that the West is going to keep on with its current habits. Some politicians on the right will say openly that their plan is to drill more oil, burn more coal, and screw the third world. Politicians on the left will bleat about Kyoto and the need to fund more research, but will also continue their tacit support for the status quo.

It's human nature to wait until the catastrophe happens before doing anything about it. "Close the barn door after the horse has escaped." That's humanity's model...

by asdf on Wed Jul 13th, 2005 at 08:05:48 AM EST
I totally agree. I would only add, that there are not even real comittments to these half-measures.

Ei lakia tarvita kun sovinnossa eletšen.
by environmentalist on Wed Jul 13th, 2005 at 08:19:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Mostly agreed, but:

The West can SIGNIFICANTLY reduce its standard of living

I fail to see why it has to be a reduction of standard of living - it could be transformation. For example, road traffic noise and pollution aren't particularly increasing standards of living, nor traffic jams (but then, these aren't privately owned stuff, and thus fall out from 'economic' assessments). Or being fat and having cardiac disease. Or wasting money on heating fuel when the house is poorly insulated.

we should be working with China, India, and Africa to bring equitable wind powered electricity to those people.

Have you seen what I wrote in response to your question on this in the wind power thread? In at least India's case, it could be one of the forces that bring wind power to poorer nations.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed Jul 13th, 2005 at 08:52:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I too thought the standard of living quote was odd.  Like you, I dont understand why having cleaner air, cleaner water, more wildlands, organic food, fewer cars, less noise, universal health care, equitable wages, maternal and paternal leave, better education....would be a REDUCTION in standard of living.

But thats just silly old me.

Sorry, I did not see your response on the wind power thread.  Ill look for it later.  But why cant the G8 be working also with backwards nations like the USA to bring equitable wind powered electricity to us?

Ei lakia tarvita kun sovinnossa eletšen.

by environmentalist on Wed Jul 13th, 2005 at 10:30:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, I saw the comment about India and China. Obviously the wind blows in those countries! The question is whether there is the political will needed to make a rapid transition from coal to wind (or whatever).

Regarding the standard of living question, I agree with you that in theory it would be nice to have the pastoral lifestyle again. But realistically, the lack of oil for fuel WILL cause a reduction in the standard of living. Our cheap western food is largely dependent on a fertilizer industry, on meat that requires huge energy input, and on the ability to ship food quickly from one place to another. Our transportation system is not just a matter of going on a holiday trip, it's also about point-to-point truck transport, which depends on fuel oil. The old, way, using trains, depended on local horse-drawn short-haul transportation. That could be replaced by electric trucks, but the end-to-end deliver time doesn't support the whole fresh vegetable industry.

And there are lots of other things. If you ride the subway or train to work you know what a hassle it is. It sounds good in theory, but when people were given the option of using cars they adopted them with a vengeance: It's just a better way of getting around.

by asdf on Wed Jul 13th, 2005 at 10:52:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
advocate a "return" to some sort of idealized pastoral lifestyle that never really existed.  You really misunderstood me.  What I am talking about is the creation of a better world and a better standard of living for people - and for that we need to redefine "standard of living".

Universal health care, clean air, etc...all the things I listed are not pie in the sky.  They are not Utopian.

While I agree that our cheap food system in wholly dependant on cheap oil, I think there are ways to remedy that.

I strongly disagree with your statement that riding the bus or subway to work is a hassle.  That's just bull.  I've gone most of my life without a car and have never found it a hassle.  Millions throughout the world would agree.  Visit a city or nation with a viable public transportation system and you will see people NOT taking thier cars in favor of much less hassle on the bus.  When you look at American cities like Denver and Atlanta where people sit in traffic for hours on end and the cities are desperatly building metro lines....who is hassled?

Finally, it is simply not true that people, once given the chance to have a car, took them because it was a better way of getting around.  Not true.  At least in the USA, there was a concerted effort by the auto industry to destroy the incredible public transportation systems our cities had up into the 1960s so that people had no choice but to go with a car.

Ei lakia tarvita kun sovinnossa eletšen.

by environmentalist on Wed Jul 13th, 2005 at 11:03:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Like Los Angeles...they tore up the tracks in the 50s...it would take billions to rebuild what they had, which were train lines everywhere...what a shame.

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Fri Jul 15th, 2005 at 04:57:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's because people are insane. Why on earth would you sit in traffic instead of using half-sensible public transport?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Jul 13th, 2005 at 11:39:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There are lots of answers for the prophets of doom (hi Deanander!) but I really don't have time to get into it right now.

Short answer: everyone should be able to aspire to a comfortable European style existence without destroying the planet. You're not going to be driving an SUV and there won't be 50 types of peanut butter on the shelf, but you'll be warm, fed and have a reasonable number of toys. You might be able to fly places occasionally as well.

All it takes is a bit of restraint and lots of improvements in efficiency.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Jul 13th, 2005 at 11:52:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'll take one good brand of peanut butter on the shelf! (I'm afraid its a taste Europeans will never acquire...)

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Fri Jul 15th, 2005 at 04:52:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I will second the idea that trains are a better way of getting around. On a train you can read the paper, people watch, do work, prepare yourself for work/study in the mornings and unwind in the evenings. In a car I invariably end up annoyed at my fellow drivers, and that is on a good day.

On the question of vegetables: Cheap western food is based on transporting fresh produce vast distances to cut down the middle-mans cost by a few cents per pound. This is facilitated by cheap (for now) oil, and various free trade agreements. Washington apples are among the best in the world, but in California we are just as likely to get them from New Zealand or Australia. I live near a city called Orangevale, there are no more orange groves there, it is not "economical." Most regions are capable of sourcing their fresh produce from their area. It will require spending slightly more and eating closer to your seasons. But, the produce it fresher, better tasting, and more nutritious. A reasonable trade in my opinion. I am not saying that we cannot eat bananas in the north, just that if it can be grown well near us there is no point in transporting it from a world away.

by toad on Wed Jul 13th, 2005 at 01:06:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I've lived and commuted in Boston--for a long time--and have spent plenty of time in the subway. Obviously if there's a train or bus that goes where you want to go, when you want to go, then it works fine. For commuting, for example. If you want to go where the train doesn't go, you're out of luck.

I'd like to give some other examples of this. I just finished "The Electric Vehicle and the Burden of History" by David A. Kirsch, in which he traces in great detail the development of the electric truck industry--among other things--in the early 1900s. He describes the way goods were delivered before oil-powered trucks became available as a system with two parts. Trains were used for long-haul transport, and horse-drawn trucks were used for local deliveries within a radius of about five miles. Horses need to rest, so when the store delivered your package, the delivery person waited around until you unwrapped it or tried it on, or--in the case of beer delivery--had a drink to make sure the beer was ok. This was simply the assumption by stores and customers: The personal contact provided by the delivery person was an integral part of the way business was done. Ever wonder how the groceries got home before cars? All stores delivered. There's lots of documentation on this.

The point of the book is to figure out why the electric truck couldn't compete against the gasoline truck, and it's complicated and has to do with both business issues and also the rapid development of the internal combustion engine and trucking during the First World War.

But my point is that if you use that combination of long-haul trains and short-haul electric trucks (I assume we're not talking about horses!), there is an inherent inefficiency compared to the way we do it now. The rsulting standard of living is lower at a given level of investment.

Now you could argue that it's better if the delivery person waits until you try on your new hat, and that this is improves your standard of living. That might be true, but the cost of that delivery person standing there is coming directly out of your pocket, so you won't be able to buy as many hats: Your standard of living is lower.

Second example. A few weeks ago my wife and I drove up into the mountains. We went over Independence Pass in Colorado to Aspen, and then back through Leadville and a bunch of other small towns. We stopped a few times so she could collect water samples for a study she's doing. We took some pictures of the Camp Hale site where a relative was stationed with the 10th Mountain Division. We changed our minds about the route at the last minute, and then spent an extra hour in Aspen to eat lunch at a favorite restaurant.

None of that would have been possible using train transportation because the route is too difficult. Sure, you could build a cog railroad or something, but there is no way you could build a cog railroad on every byway and dirt track in the country. And even if it was possible, it would have taken much longer and required much more planning.

People tend to forget that back in the "good old days" it was the rich folks that went on exotic vacations. This busines of jumping in the car and driving to Cape Cod, or the Jersey Shore, or the wine country, or Quimper on a moment's notice simply isn't possible with train-based transportation. People MOVED (by train) to Cape Cod in the summer, and when they got there, they stayed there. And the vast majority of people never went to the Grand Canyon or Greece. It was too expensive and took too long: Their standard of living was lower.

And then the third example I would give is that there is still this problem of sharing resources with the third world. Our system is based on the west getting most of the good stuff. If the third world gets its share, there's less to go around. Even if we stop using oil, there are plenty of other resources that can't just scale up by a factor of several dozen so that everybody in China, for example, can have a box full of gold jewelry like typical Americans and Europeans.

Now you can argue that having jewelry is not a measure of standard of living, but that gets you back into the Pastoral Paradise situation. Obviously we'd all be better off working 35 hours a week, walking to work, having healthy vegetarian eating habits, and taking the train on well-planned and educational holidays to Rome, but what we obnoxious people really want to do is drive our 4WD cars on a Rally Raid to Libya. THAT's what you get when you have a "high standard of living."
Take away the 4WD cars and you've reduced the standard of living.

So I would say that one must be careful about claiming that everybody in the world can have the same standard of living as the west has today, even if by some miracle of politics it was agreed that it would be a Good Thing.

by asdf on Wed Jul 13th, 2005 at 03:18:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Now you could argue that it's better if the delivery person waits until you try on your new hat, and that this is improves your standard of living. That might be true, but the cost of that delivery person standing there is coming directly out of your pocket, so you won't be able to buy as many hats: Your standard of living is lower.

How many bloody hats do you need man? What utility do you derive from your nth hat?

In any case, we're hardly paragons of efficiency as it is. Only cheap oil let's us pull most of the grossly wasteful stunts we pull now. Why is my new computer being configured in Cork, shipped to Amsterdam to be combined with the rest of my order and then shipped to Dublin for delivery? Because burning the oil involved is cheaper than running a smarter delivery system.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Jul 13th, 2005 at 04:05:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I personally have about five or six hats. But the point is that if somebody tells me I can't have as many hats as I need, my standard of living just went down. "Choice" is a factor in standard of living.

Theoretically we should all just live in little huts and work on our gardens...like Hobbits?

by asdf on Wed Jul 13th, 2005 at 06:49:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think that's true only in the modern USA.

Ei lakia tarvita kun sovinnossa eletšen.
by environmentalist on Thu Jul 14th, 2005 at 12:24:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Also,  I think you are being rather insulting my continuing to put words in peopls's mouth about an idealized pastoral lifestyle.  None of us are talking about that but you seem to insist that we are.  Get honest, please.

Ei lakia tarvita kun sovinnossa eletšen.
by environmentalist on Thu Jul 14th, 2005 at 12:26:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I apologize for anything I've written that is insulting; certainly I don't intend that.

Perhaps there is some cultural dissonance here that is worth exploring. In the U.S.A., we like wide options of food (GM versus vegetarian versus "regular" versus locally grown versus exotic), absolute control of our environment (perfect weed-free lawns, perpetual springtime temperatures), and big houses and cars and boats, and lots of hats. Also we like "freedom," although one can argue that we're slaves to our perception of freedom.

I suspect that in Europe the tradeoffs are somewhat different. The French 35 hour working week is traded against the lack of A/C in many houses. (Why not work five more hours a week and get A/C and a bigger car?) The Scandanvian team working style and crade-to-grave social systems are traded against high tax rates. Etc.

So things that work in Europe, like saying "you don't need so many hats," is a direct threat to what is valued in America: Nobody should be able to tell me how many hats I can have. (Ridiculous example, but it fits.)

Perhaps my "pastoral" comment is poorly chosen. What is the right term for a situation where everybody lives happily with the material possessions that they need (only one hat!), travels on the train routes that a bureaucrat decided would be made available, and happily eats from a menu based on local farm produce?

I simply maintain that the changes proposed in these discussions--and I agree that such changes are inevitable--will in fact lead to a lower aggregate standard of living.

by asdf on Thu Jul 14th, 2005 at 05:32:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What is the right term for a situation where everybody lives happily with the material possessions that they need (only one hat!), travels on the train routes that a bureaucrat decided would be made available, and happily eats from a menu based on local farm produce?

umm, "sustainable"?

but seriously asdf, it is always the case that living beyond one's means guarantees -- temporarily -- a much "higher standard of living" than living within one's means.  if you want to go into debt you can have as many hats as you want.  but eventually the creditors catch uo with you and then comes bankruptcy, repossession, loss of reputation, maybe debtors' prison:  a much lower standard of living than you would have enjoyed had you lived more modestly.  imho the "American way of life" which you describe is achieved by living both literally and figuratively beyond our means -- personal debt being at an all time high, and the whole lifestyle being based on massive energy debt (drawing down millions of years' worth of fossil fuel energy in a matter of decades) and the reckless liquidation of resources.  the bankruptcy phase may take another generation or half-generation to bite, but it's coming.

when we fished the N Atlantic cod stocks over the edge into near-extinction, we briefly had an enhanced standard of living (we ate very high quality fish at a very low apparent price).  but now the cod are gone, and more and more of the average person's fish consumption is a dubious fishmeal made from miscellaneous species much lower on the food chain.  living beyond our means again:  a temporary improvement in standard of living followed by a measureable decline (lower quality, less tasty, less nutritious fish).

I don't think that a "high standard of living" based on unsustainable technology or practise really qualifies, any more than debt is the same as wealth.  since we can always "improve our standard of living" by theft, cheating, or reckless indebtedness, it seems to me a poor evaluation metric for long term planning.  it may be no coincidence that the initials SOL (for Standard of Living) also stand for a somewhat less cheerful phrase, which is where we are headed if we don't get over our current definitions of Standard of Living :-)

and btw, I don't know why it's so bad for a bureaucrat to decide where a train route goes;  bureaucrats designed and built that massively-subsidised highway system that contributes so greatly to your automobile-based "standard of living," and bureaucrats decide where to situate massively-subsidised airports as well.  it's not as if trains were somehow uniquely associated with either bureaucracy or government subsidy :-);

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Thu Jul 14th, 2005 at 08:58:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
forgot to say that the local farm produce where I live is infinitely superior in taste and nutrition to the longhaul refrigerated drek at Safeway supermarket.  where I live at any rate, I eat at a higher standard of living by sticking to local produce.

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...
by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Thu Jul 14th, 2005 at 09:00:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Trying to follow on this thread...here in Switzerland, there's big trains, then small trains, and post buses that go everywhere else. And all buses and trains have room for bikes. Hey, don't get me wrong, I love driving...but for the first time in many years, I'm not, and it's pretty cool to be able to get everywhere via public transportation...and that's because they thought it out long ago and have maintained it.

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Fri Jul 15th, 2005 at 05:05:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]

And in Switzerland, People defended this against bureaucrats and politicians who'd bend to lobbies in multiple referendums.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sat Jul 16th, 2005 at 08:06:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I never recommended a return to pastoral lifestyle.

Cheap Western food is another point for me - for that food is quite often shit, and even if not, with too little variation. You can do without fertilizers - there is a boom of biofarmers in Germany for example. It is usually (but not always) more expensive than 'factory food', but let's be earnest, few people in the West would have difficulties paying a bit more for food. And better food is an increase in standard of living. (I stated my negative views regarding transporting food on the CAP issue.)

I don't know what you mean with hassle. If I have a problem with daily commuting, it is its stalled development in my city (with crowdedness on certain lines as the main consequence). I don't have a car, and don't feel the need for it - I can do other things not having to concentrate on driving.

People adopted cars for various grounds, but government programs helping to make it more feasible and lack of government programs to make railroads more attractive played a significant role (in the USA and elsewhere). When it is organised right, the opposite happens. Here is one example: the Schönbuchbahn, a branchline near Stuttgart.

Passenger traffic on this line was ended in 1966, when only one or two hundred passengers used it daily. After freight traffic ended too, it was slated for abadonment. With a busy road running parallel, rhe state railway predicted that even if it is renovated, only 1250 people would use it a day. Then, the villages and towns along the 17 km line allied to prevent closure, and organised a restart in cooperation with the state of Baden-Württenberg and a regional railway company under its control, expecting 2500 passengers a day. €14.6 million were spent for track improvement, new crossings, stations, trains, bus lines (which carried 2000 passengers a day before) were reorganised as feeders, schools and business schedules were synchronised with timetables.

The result was wildly beyond expectations. 3740 on the first day on 6 December 1993, beyond 4500 by the next spring, beyond 5000 two years later, beyond 6000 again two years later, last year around 7000. Steady growth, and 5000 of them drove cars before.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed Jul 13th, 2005 at 04:32:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Another example is Worcester, Massachusetts. There's a train line in to Boston, 40 miles away. I think a single ticket costs $5. And it's busy as anything; a big problem is that they can't build parking spaces fast enough to handle the cars.

There is also an airport in Worcester. It's closed, because people would rather fly out of Boston, Providence, or Manchester. But the city thinks it needs an airport, so it keeps on dumping millions and millions into it--even with NO scheduled airlines using it.

by asdf on Wed Jul 13th, 2005 at 06:52:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Is that the Downeaster? I read something about a successful restarted line up there.

Regarding the airport, that's obviously not well organised and money ill spent. And for not well organised (to say at least) public transport projects, to contrast the Schönbuchbahn story above, I have the worst examples from the USA. I just can't explain these.

Take the River LINE an existing 34-mile (~60 km) line, which only underwent a similar upgrade (or even less) as that German line: track refubrishment, new stations, new (European-made) diesel trains. No grand structures along the way. Yet it cost a staggering $1.1 billion, at least 1000% above what would be realistic. I can't explain this: astronomical levels of corruption, or of incompetence? For a comparison, when a half-as-long suburban line near Frankfurt was 1) double-tracked, 2) electrified, and 3) a number of over- and underpasses were built to replace level crossings, this above track upgrade and purchase of electric trains, the cost was €309 million - still less per mile than the River LINE.

There is also the planned Boston city tunnel for trains - less than a mile, with parts already built alongside the Big Dig, but cost is slated at a sheer unbelievable $8.7 billion. For a comparison, this is 40% more than the cost of the whole Channel Tunnel Rail Link II,  which also has tunnels under a city (London) - but 12 miles of them, and fitted for high speed; plus another one-and-half miles under the river Thames, plus two new stations and one rebuilt terminal... Someone is interested in something entirely different from giving good transport to the public here.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Jul 14th, 2005 at 09:39:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Supplement: the River LINE will never be profitable, but I just checked, and found it at least exceeds the winded-down ridership anticipations with ridership growing:

During the last quarter, the average weekday ridership on the line increased 18 percent, from 5,000 in December 2004 to 5,900 riders during the months of January, February and March, according to NJ Transit.

During that same time period, Saturday ridership increased 11 percent from an average of 3,400 to 3,800 riders. Sunday ridership decreased 1.9 percent from an average of 2,700 to 2,650.

The current quarter runs through June. So far, officials said, the raw data for the months of April and May show additional increases. The average weekday ridership during those two months increased to 6,400 a day, and Saturday and Sunday ridership was up to 5,100 and 3,700 riders respectively.

Furthermore, on Saturday, June 4, the line transported a total of 11,400 passengers, marking the single-day record for the line, which opened 16 months ago.

(At 11,400 a day, even ignoring operating costs, at $1.25 a ticket, investments would be repaid in 211 years...)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Jul 14th, 2005 at 09:47:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's just the regular commuter train from Worcester to Boston.
by asdf on Thu Jul 14th, 2005 at 05:38:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Re hassle, it's a matter of degree. In places like Boston, which is much like European cities, roads are narrow, there aren't enough parking spaces, and traffic is a nightmare. So it's easier to take the subway. However, it's not pleasant. To get from Newton to Northeastern University, for example, you have to catch the street car in Newton, ride into Boston, and then change to an outbound car on a different branch. During rush hour you might have to wait for several cars, and then stand all squished up against somebody for the ride.

Or, you can drive down Route 9, deal with some traffic in Jamaica Plain, and park in the student lot. It takes about 1/4 as long. Distance is about 15 miles. Cars are MUCH more convenient except in the very worst traffic, and as long as oil is cheap, it's going to be very hard to displace them.

Incidently, what do you do when you want to go somewhere on weekends? Is your sphere of travel limited to where you can get by public transportation?

by asdf on Wed Jul 13th, 2005 at 06:57:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
a valid question here (seems to me) is, why should the places where we normally live and work be such hell holes that we are desperate to travel far away, to escape from them on weekends?  why should the places we live not be rich in local amenities and pleasures:  parks, entertainment, culture, cafes, bookshops and libraries?  imho it is a C19 industrial meme that the workplace and the home are nasty, mean, boring and ugly -- the smoky factory, the crowded and noisy tenement -- and that we long to "get away" from them as often as possible.  the only reason that our cities and towns are not places we want to spend our weekends is that we've deliberately engineered them to be ugly, boring, and hostile (ironically often as part of our unremitting effort to make them more and more convenient for motorists).

asdf may be right, that once people have a taste of privilege they will kill whomever they have to in order to hang on to it.  depressing thought -- it suggests that we're in for a dismal, murderous century that may make even the prior dismal, murderous century look like we were playing nice.  ugh!

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Thu Jul 14th, 2005 at 01:28:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
During rush hour you might have to wait for several cars, and then stand all squished up against somebody for the ride.

Huh, I thought we have an overcrowded traffic!!! I never had to wait for another bus or metro or tramway unless a breakdown or accident caused a long delay.

Incidently, what do you do when you want to go somewhere on weekends? Is your sphere of travel limited to where you can get by public transportation?

Well, where I live, that sphere expands to just about everywhere :-)

Having read your other post, I submit riding around the Rockies might be less feasible even if the Colorado narrow gauge network would have been rebuilt. On the other hand, what you describe doesn't look like what most people would do, especially the research done for/by your wife (I won't be against keeping a few 4WDs for researchers); while I prefer watching the scenery from a train (especially if it has panoramic cars) and get out for excursions to having to look at the road to avoid falling into a ravine (my sense of quality of life).

Last fall, I made an express tour through the Austrian Alps - two days (including travel from/to Budapest), five small climbs, plus visiting two cities, I got everything I wanted. I used trains exclusively. A few days earlier, also in Austria, I took my bike for a larger radius.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Jul 14th, 2005 at 09:22:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In Colorado the fun is falling down an abandoned mine shaft.  :-)
by asdf on Thu Jul 14th, 2005 at 10:02:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Trains, buses, ferries, bikes, walking...(and I'm not being a snark here, this is the option range where I live).

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Fri Jul 15th, 2005 at 05:08:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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