Oliver Tickell “Kyoto 2 – How to Manage the Global Greenhouse”

ISBN 978-1-84813-025-8. “Kyoto2 – How to Manage the Global Greenhouse” by Oliver Tickell was published by Zed Books in 2008. It seems odd reading this 293 paperback book in the period after COP15 at Copenhagen (early/mid-December 2009). The book we reviewed BEFORE reading this, was Chris Goodall’s “Ten Technologies…” which dealt with the leading technology that offers hope of a decarbonised world. Chris’s work was completely devoid of any global political dimension but he gave us hope that we had the tools at our disposal (now or in the near future) to tackle the decarbonisation of advanced, industrialised, western, northern, nations. Tickell rather picks up where Goodall leaves off and takes us into the global economic policy zone with the market mechanisms whereby change will be encouraged. Whereas Chris’s work was very easy reading Tickell has chosen a rather more tortuous route. This is not easy reading and should come with a ‘layman-buyer-beware’ sticker. This book will seriously confuse you! The front cover boasts a quote from George Monbiot who acclaims Tickell’s “intelligent treatment of the politics and economics of climate change”. Certainly it is “intelligent” if he mean “largely non-intelligible” but I would not go as far as to claim that it deals with the politics of climate change.

In fact this book does not go into the politics at all so if you wish to understand WHY COP15 was such a miserable failure then don’t buy this book. However, in its favour it certainly shows two things: firstly that there is no insurmountable obstacle to forging a global deal of climate change and, secondly, there is no problem with getting the free-market heavily involved, even if its past history has been nothing short of a disaster. This book represents a harsh criticism of the failure of the market mechanisms so far adopted. The author attacks failings in both the European Emissions Trading Scheme (EUETS) and the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) but, after demolishing past efforts, he goes on to suggest market mechanisms for carbon trading. Praise for Caesar indeed. The explanations of the economics of these market mechanisms (ie, Taxes versus subsidies and so on) goes into a level of detail that few will see outside of a Degree-level economics text book. I know – I studied economics until the age of 18 but have not seen some of the theories described here. This is why we believe this book is certainly not for the casual reader, which is a shame because the author is demonstrating (in the most difficult way possible) that we know everything we need to know about how to deploy economic policy to rid the world of its carbon-fuelled legacy. It is highly plausible. He also makes room for non-market mechanisms and shows how different approaches yield different cost-benefits. For example it can be cheaper to legislate against certain types of emissions whilst in other cases the Montreal Protocol to deal with ozone-depleting gasses has been far more successful and far cheaper in eradicating emissions of potent Greenhouse Gasses than Kyoto1 ever was.

So we know what can be done. We know what has to be done. It isn’t rocket science even if it looks like it. However, none of this explains why the December 2009 opportunity to use all of this know-how failed to do so. Somehow economics meets politics and everyone loses. Which is a massive shame as the author tries very hard to demonstrate that there should be NO losers in his scheme. He suggests choosing the cheapest methods to guarantee emission reductions mostly through auctioning emission rights. This will raise $1trillion per year which will be spent on an entire shopping list of measure which include research into renewables, adaptation in the third world and disaster relief. Some measures will surprise the more ‘green’ of our readers. Investing in fusion power and geo-engineering research might annoy a few…. Whilst Tickell’s praises for the voluntary offset industry might just set George Monbiot’s head spinning…. But this is the strength of Tickell’s work. He know what will work and it is free of any specific dogma or ideology. Maybe it is for this reason that the politicians will not use the Kyoto2 solution. It seems we have leaders who demand that somebody has to lose. With this one false belief we are all losers. Recommended.

About post-carbon-man

A passionate advocate of a peaceful transition to a sustainable political-economy, Mark hails from a working class farming background. Today he is a Company Director and Chairman of the Low Carbon Chilterns Co-operative. Whilst at University (Engineering Masters) he was active in Conservative Student politics but has had no affiliation since. He has travelled widely on business covering the USA, Europe, Middle East and Central Asian Republics. In 2007 Mark founded Post-Carbon-Living and a year later co-founded Transition Town High Wycombe. He lives with is wife & daughter in a home they retrofitted to be carbon-neutral. Today he blogs about surviving politics on a shrinking planet and is passionate in his rejection of Nationalism.

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