European Fiscal Union
The recent events of the UK vetoing the EU Treaty for Fiscal Union presents us with the risk of the two-tier Europe that is now complicated by one that is not only two-tier within the Euro Zone but one that may be two-tier outside it too.
Today there were further credit downgrades in the EU bailout fund today as well as downgrading of Austria and France’s credit ratings. The Greek debt situation looks no where near a sustainable level with another 100 billion euros needed there. That is in addition to past funding for Portugal and Ireland. 2012 will be a year of hard decisions in the eurozone. For a currency that has just celebrated its first 10 years it will be interesting to view where it is in another decade.
Canada Says Bye-Bye to Kyoto Protocol
Canada has formerly decided that it does not want to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions. After much debate at the recent climate conference in Durban there seemed to be a consensus of sorts to addressing the issue on a global scale from 2020. Canada has now changed its mind and decided to go back on its original Kyoto responsibilities. For a country that is exploiting its huge tar sand reserves, at huge environmental cost, this seems a totally unsustainable step in terms of the wider planet and as an example to many developing nations who will be greatly affected by climate change.
Pushpanath Krishnamurthy: Climate Walk
On another note, it is refreshing to view the actions of individuals who are making efforts to raise awareness of climate change. One such person is Pushpanath Krishnamurthy who has been walking around 500 kilometres to raise awareness of climate and biodiversity issues. On Pushpanath’s walk he has been asking villagers two questions: Is climate changing? Is it for good? Two questions that we should be asking everyone to answer. An interesting blog of the journey can be found at Go Push Go. Like Lao-tzu once said every journey starts with a single step and this journey has helped to raise awareness of the global issues that will affect millions of people in India.
Low Carbon Technologies
There have been some nice, small scale developments in low carbon technologies that can help many people. Here are two examples: A new low emission London bus and LED lighting.
Cutting Edge Bus
There is to be a new hybrid technology bus for the 38 route in London from this year. It is a great advance over traditional diesel engines and can deliver a fuel economy more than twice that of a standard diesel bus at 11.6mpg. This does not sound much but steps like this should benefit all users and the bus also has lower carbon dioxide and oxides of nitrogen emissions. The bus also has a classic London bus look to remind people of the old red RouteMaster London buses. Full details can be found at Transport For London (Tfl).
The Energy Saving Trust has been undertaking some empirical trials of LED, or light emitting diode, lights to see how they perform. The results: 35 sites monitored and a saving of greater than 3 million kilowatt hours (kWh) a year when compared with the previous lights used. For areas used where lighting is on for 24 hours a day the benefits can be great. In social housing areas the additional brightness can make places feel safer too. The lights tend to last a lot longer than traditional incandescent light-bulbs. For details of the Energy Saving Trust report which can be downloaded see this link.
European Low Carbon Roadmap
The European Commission has a road map for the change to a low carbon economy for Europe. See this link. The policy is aiming to achieve targets for 2020 of reducing emissions to 20% below 1990 levels. So far emissions have been reduced by 16%, whereas the economy has grown by 40% over the same period. There is still much to be done in all sectors from housing to transport to industry and construction to name a few.