Monday, February 08, 2010

The EU environment hoax

I am dedicated to the environment. But nowadays "environment friendly" seems to be an excuse to destroy our world. And the EU is specially bad in that respect:
- they are promoting "biofuel" for which huge tracks or forest are destroyed. To add insult to injury to EU is now planning to declare palm plantations to be "forests", hiding their detrimental aspects.
- the carbon tax is another disaster. Last week hackers exposed the vulnerability of the system to fraud. I believe in simplicity. Having a carbon tax is asking for fraud. I see it as one of the excesses of "free market" thinking where regulation is needed. In my opinion it is a much better policy when countries optimize their reliance on renewable energy sources like wind and sun. They have as an addition benefit that they strengthen the trade balance and make a country less vulnerable for the swings in oil prices. The use of oil and gas can be discouraged by the well-tested means of taxes.
- "cash for clunkers" was yet another disaster. In the past the old cars in Western Europe and the US were exported to poorer countries - including Africa. Now they are destroyed. And then our politicians have the guts to say that this benefits the environment because it takes old polluting cars away...
- Yet another one is pumping CO2 gas into the ground. Such pumping only costs more energy. I don't think that will save us in the long run.

My objection to Europe has always been that interest groups are more influential as its citizens. This seems a clear example. As the US has the same problem I suppose it has something to do with the size.

Postscript (june 2010): the EU has upgraded its rules for biofuels. They should now be from a "clean" source. No more cutting woods to grow the fuel. But this doesn't solve the problem: it just means that the plants grown on freshly cleared land will be labeled for food while those on existing fields will qualify as biofuel.
But at the same time lobbying is going on for a carbon tax. Big promotor is the nuclear industry. Maybe they should combine it with a radioactivity tax: the radioactivity of nuclear waste will be around long after the carbon has been reabsorbed by the earth.

The directive will also lead to higher taxes on imported biofuel.

Postscript 2: Due to the economic crisis many emission permits in the Emission Trading System are unused. As they can be carried over to following years this means that the scheme simply doesn't work at the moment. It also shows the weakness of a system that is dependent on the rate of economic growth. I think it would be better to have a performance driven system. For example that cars should achieve a certain number of voyager-km per liter of fuel and that a country should have a policy that punishes the inefficient.

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