Your world. Your say: 31 March letters, part 3

A A A


Jobs on the line

Sir: It is wonderful to read that somebody in Government is finally asking the necessary questions about climate change, economic growth and economic equity. Colin Challen and his partners have taken a brave step in taking hold of this issue and challenging our economic dogmas in this way ("We must think the unthinkable", 28 March).

The problem is that it may be prove to be brave but futile. The Contraction and Convergence proposal described by Mr Challen would turn the developed world on its head.

Some of us can see many benefits from this approach. The obvious direct benefits would be long-term survival and an environment fit to live in. Less obvious indirect benefits would come from a slowing down of production and consumerism; more time for things other than work, a more human world.

But the disciples of liberal capitalism, such as Tony Blair and the rich, will not share this view and the forces of resistance to such a drastic change of economic model would be huge. So huge, in fact, that one has to ask whether there is the slightest chance of overcoming them at all.

Going into more detail, there are some questions to ask about the proposal of carbon rationing and trading.

While the proposal explicitly deals with inequity between countries, one is still left with inequity within countries. In order to have equity within developed countries, the rich have to take most of the burden of the freezing or contraction of the economy. If this is not clearly managed, then the result will be that the "bill" will be paid from the bottom up.

One can imagine a new wave of relocalisations in which the workforces of the developed world are thrown on the street as the jobs move to countries which are in energy credit. How are the newly "carbon reduced" unemployed going to live?

Strong (draconian?) state intervention in the free market economy would clearly be necessary and would have to include large-scale wealth redistribution.

Mr Challen has already made a great contribution to the debate; but it will be an astounding (though fantastically worthwhile) achievement if he manages to put the developed world on this track.

CHRIS WILD

LE ROURET, FRANCE

Environmental tax

Sir: I read recently that pollution created (per pound of economic activity) is roughly four times higher in China, India, and Indonesia than in Britain, Germany and Japan. Pollution is twice as great in the US as in Britain.

Currently virtually everything sold in Britain is made in the high-polluting nations, and then transported at high pollution cost. Current trends in globalisation advance this phenomenon. The UK, and the EU, have (limited) environmental standards, which impose costs on European companies that are not imposed on imports into the EU, thereby disadvantaging EU businesses and hastening the transfer of EU companies to those cheap, high-polluting countries.

Surely an environmental tax should be imposed on goods from countries that produce high levels of pollution, and that are sent vast distances across the globe? This would give a greater incentive to home-production, less pollution through transport, and lower the productivity of nations that produce higher pollution (thus giving an incentive for all to produce energy more cleanly).

RICHARD WILLIAMS

NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM AND BIODIVERSITY RESEARCH CENTER THE UNIVERSITY OF KANSAS LAWRENCE, KANSAS, USA

Sir: While it is commendable that so many people have responded with good ideas, it is not realistic to assume that these ideas can succeed as an isolated action plan. All countries need to participate actively in the process at all levels - from governments, through businesses and down to the consumer.

The problem is, the world is structured as a "competitive" economic model. Countries are forced to compete against each other. This set-up inevitably leads to wars, acrimonious trade disputes, poverty, environmental destruction and so many other problems. Will the US consider backing down in its battle with China and other countries as it seeks to maintain its status as the world's economic superpower? Will China and India forego the cheap fossil fuel solutions to meet their ever-growing energy demands?

All countries and governments must work together on a "global solution" that everyone is required to participate in without exception, as it is unrealistic to think the process has any chance of success otherwise.

JAMES CHRISTOPHER

BY E-MAIL

Sir: Global problems need global solutions. It is fairly obvious to all that, despite Government "targets", we in the UK fail to make headway in this area - indeed, we are going backwards. While the announcement of an all-party group on climate change is a welcome development, it will achieve little unless its philosophy rapidly spreads to larger groupings.

This is an obvious issue where MEPs could actually play a useful part. Even then, Europe can achieve only a limited amount without buy-in from the US, China and India.

Ultimately, economic competition in its current form will prevent any ordered progression towards solutions in a practical timescale. There is already scientific evidence that we're close to the point of irreversible change - by the time market forces bring about change, this point will be far behind us.

Sadly, we cannot escape the basis tenets of Malthus - and as a result of our inability to effect self-regulation on a global basis, we can now anticipate a steadily increasing frequency of environmentally-driven social upheaval.

CHRIS GILL

BY E-MAIL

Reduce CO2 output

Sir: I do not believe that governments are doing nearly enough to tackle this unprecedented and gravest threat to our civilisation.

Ministers express concern at the effect on economic growth through the implementation of measures designed to reduce CO2 emissions. Well, I suppose they are halfway there with their concerns about the economy; I, too, am worried about the economy and terrified at the likely effect that unchecked climate change will have upon it.

There is an overwhelming economic argument for instituting powerful measures to reduce CO2 output now. The fact that climate change is already ruining the lives of countless poor in the Third World, devastating fragile ecosystems and driving biodiversity to collapse and species to extinction are not reasons themselves that I would expect industrialised nations to respond to.

Ministers have to do two things: first, connect the dots and understand exactly why climate change poses such a threat not just to our own economy but also the global economy; and second, appreciate that although they are used to populist styles of delivery when in power, this is a time that demands of them actual responsibility and intelligent, rational governance.

EDWARD JONES-THOMAS

LONDON SE1

No guidance

Sir: We are badly in need of good leadership and solidarity. It is easy to feel excluded by the Government, isolated, knowledgeable but with no guidance that can be trusted or will act in time. Many, many people would be prepared to alter their lifestyles if they believed it was a unified and meaningful action and, to be realistic, affordable. Leadership could encourage (and subsidise where necessary) sustainable energy, affordable public transport (must be much cheaper than using a car), grey water recycling and so on.

HELEN TOMKINSON

BY E-MAIL

Tackle root causes

Sir: Finally someone has got it right! Economic growth is the root cause of most, if not all, of our environmental problems. Economic growth is facilitated by increasing global population and increasing per capita consumption and invariable results in the conversion of natural capital (ecosystems) and the attendant loss or degradation of ecosystem services. Until we address the root cause of the problem, everything else we do to tackle climate change will have little effect.

NEIL K DAWE

PARKSVILLE, BRITISH COLUMBIA, CANADA

Solution in the roof

Sir: Why are we still building houses with traditional roof materials? After all, the roof of a property is its largest uninterrupted area. This ought, therefore, to become the property's main power plant using photoelectric cells and solar panels. This, together with a suitably-sized wind turbine, could make each property largely self-sufficient, with the bonus of adding to the national grid. Grants to help with installations should be cheaper than building new power stations, and the problem of waste products would not arise.

DIANA YORK

BY E-MAIL

Hear our voices

Sir: We cannot take a chance that there is no problem about climate change.

Politicians talk of international agreements. I have no confidence in such agreements being either negotiated or kept by the, by and large, hapless bunch of leaders that we have on the world stage at the moment. Ordinary people, aided by the media, must make their voices heard on the subject and world leaders, including those of the major religions, must respond in kind. Time is fast running out!

PETER WELLS

HARROGATE, NORTH YORKSHIRE

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Nick Clegg on the campaign trail in Glasgow on Wednesday; he says education is his top priority
peopleNick Clegg remains optimistic despite dismal Lib Dem poll ratings
Arts and Entertainment
Déjà vu: David Tennant returns to familiar territory with Anna Gunn (‘Breaking Bad’)
tvReview: Something is missing in Gracepoint, and it's not just the familiar names
Arts and Entertainment
Buttoned up: Ryan Reynolds with Helen Mirren in ‘Woman in Gold’
filmFor every box-office smash in his Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. Now he says it's time for a reboot
News
people
News
Actress Julianne Moore wins the Best Actress in a Leading Role Award for 'Still Alice' during the 87th Annual Academy Awards in Hollywood, California
people
Sport
Ross Barkley
footballPaul Scholes says it's time for the Everton playmaker to step up and seize the England No 10 shirt
News
'We will fix it': mice in the 1970s children’s programme Bagpuss
science
Life and Style
2 Karl Lagerfeld and Choupette
fashion
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper

£23000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing boutique prac...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Executive

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Retail Buyer / Ecommerce Buyer

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Working closely with the market...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - CAD Software Solutions Sales

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A reputable company, famed for ...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria's capital

War with Isis

Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria
Scientists develop mechanical spring-loaded leg brace to improve walking

A spring in your step?

Scientists develop mechanical leg brace to help take a load off
Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock: How London shaped the director's art and obsessions

Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock

Ackroyd has devoted his literary career to chronicling the capital and its characters. He tells John Walsh why he chose the master of suspense as his latest subject
Ryan Reynolds interview: The actor is branching out with Nazi art-theft drama Woman in Gold

Ryan Reynolds branches out in Woman in Gold

For every box-office smash in Ryan Reynolds' Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. It's time for a rethink and a reboot, the actor tells James Mottram
Why Robin Williams safeguarded himself against a morbid trend in advertising

Stars safeguard against morbid advertising

As film-makers and advertisers make increasing posthumous use of celebrities' images, some stars are finding new ways of ensuring that they rest in peace
The UK horticulture industry is facing a skills crisis - but Great Dixter aims to change all that

UK horticulture industry facing skills crisis

Great Dixter manor house in East Sussex is encouraging people to work in the industry by offering three scholarships a year to students, as well as generous placements
Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head

Hack Circus: Technology, art and learning

Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head. Rhodri Marsden meets mistress of ceremonies Leila Johnston
Sevenoaks is split over much-delayed decision on controversial grammar school annexe

Sevenoaks split over grammar school annexe

If Weald of Kent Grammar School is given the go-ahead for an annexe in leafy Sevenoaks, it will be the first selective state school to open in 50 years
10 best compact cameras

A look through the lens: 10 best compact cameras

If your smartphone won’t quite cut it, it’s time to invest in a new portable gadget
Paul Scholes column: Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now

Paul Scholes column

Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now
Why Michael Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Why Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Manchester United's talented midfielder has played international football for almost 14 years yet, frustratingly, has won only 32 caps, says Sam Wallace
Tracey Neville: The netball coach who is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

Tracey Neville is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

The former player on how she is finding time to coach both Manchester Thunder in the Superleague and England in this year's World Cup
General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?