Global Warming Europe- Sauerkraut, Bourgogne, Bangers
March 1, 2007
Everyone blames the US, China and India for the evils of Global Warming. Rightfully so, they do emit shameful amounts of greenhouse gases, refusing to take responsibility. But what is the story of the largest economy of all? That’s Europe, not the US. This post is aimed at those curious about the wholesomeness of the Old World when it comes to climate change. Why do they act as they do? Are they innocent? I’ll run through a bit of history and current affairs to come up with answers.
Fact 1: The EU – the European Union – recently proposed a major Global Warming initiative. This initiative, following the IPCC 2007 Paris report, aims at a 20%, or even 30% reduction in greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions by 2020 compared to the 1990 levels. Let’s examine that.
Fact 2: The EU is one of the corner posts of carbon credits (CER) trading. The Emissions Trading Scheme attempts, allegedly, to control the corrupt schemes of CERs and to provide a fair trading body. Is that working?
Question 1: How come Europeans are now the Good Guys? Are they? After thousands of years of barbaric, bloody history, now EU is trying to be the true, sane democracy to itself and the world. Can it make a contribution for the better? Is it Realpolitik as usual or does it really have a smattering of idealism and responsibility?
Europe, in particular the EU, is the largest homogenous market in the world, yet nowhere close to exercising the power it could. It comes from a fragmented mess with a long history at slaughtering each other rather than cooperating for prosperity. The membership ranges from Luxembourg, tiny but incredible rich, to poorhouse Romania. The overall population of 495 million (compared to 300 million in the US) includes Malta’s 400,000. It’s seen Hitler, Mussolini, Napoleon, the Kaisers, Soviet suppression, the Berlin Wall, Kings and Queens, 30 year or even 100 year long wars, the Roman and Greek Empires, Imperialism, Bubonic plague, the Vatican and wars, wars and more wars.
Note: here is a major simplification. When I mention “Europe”, I sometimes refer to EU 25 (the 25 European nations belonging to the European Union as of 2004). These countries comprise the vast bulk of Europe, and it is easier by far to obtain data on this bloc than the “total”.
This stand-alone essay is linked to my main Global Warming essay as published in this blog. Below are links to the first three posts in that essay. The complete essay will contain five more posts.
- GlobalWarming:1 – Culprits, Scoundrels and Villains
- GlobalWarming:2 – Politics, Scandals, Mass Committees
- GlobalWarming:3 – Few Like It Hot
Images in this essay
The photos in this essay come from my fine art multimedia presentation Symphonie Noir. I finished the Symphonie last year and it has been exhibited publicly. Contact me if you’d like a quote for your personalized, numbered and signed, full size, museum quality print from the current edition. You can view images from the full Symphonie here. The DVD multimedia show is also available.
I produced the factual graphs from my own databases, combining data from many sources.
This blog, its design, text content (except quotes from others) and my images and graphs are copyright © Leading Design, Inc 2006-2007. All Rights Reserved. I make absolutely no claims on images or quotes from other sources.
Global Warming Heating Europe
Europe emits 15% of the world’s total GHGs, all of which are subject to the Kyoto Protocol caps. The US, Australia, China and India together produce 45% of the world’s GHG emissions. None of the 45% is regulated by the Protocol. The rest of the world spews out the remaining 40%, mostly not subject to caps.
The “Certified Emissions Reduction” CER system of the Kyoto Protocol divides, essentially, the world into providers of CER money and receivers of CER money. Europe, Japan and Canada are the providers. The “less developed” countries (which includes China, India, Korea, Mexico, South Africa, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Singapore and other rapidly growing, no-longer-that-poor countries) are the receivers of money with no obligations at all. China is the biggest receiver of all, subject to vast CER corruption while remaining the second largest and fastest growing polluter.
In the EU, only two countries emit more than 2% of the global total. Nineteen countries individually emit less than 1%. Seven emit less than .1% of the world total. Many of these totally insignificant emitters question what difference it makes if they reduce their emissions from .1% to .08% of the world total while China aims at overtaking the US by emitting more than the EU combined.
Yet Europe is, largely, a major supporter of the Kyoto Protocol and the fight against Global Warming. Certainly national interests dominate. Lip service is widespread. Actual results are questionable. But no other area has done as much. The Bush administration jealously claim the voluntary system in the US produced more emission cuts than the EU managed. That is complete BS. The US energy consumption is growing rapidly as are emissions. European emissions are flat and have been flat for decades.
Very recently, the EU suggested a Global Warming Initiative that should reduce GHG emissions dramatically. The initiative is scheduled for debate in March 2007. I’ll discuss some scenarios of how this initiative may or may not make a difference. But first, let see what Europe is all about.
I aim this essay at those perhaps not really knowing Europe that well. Europeans, read and laugh your heads off. As matter of disclosure, I lived in Europe for 30 years. I’ve traveled all over the place. I love it dearly.
After Australia, Europe is the smallest continent by area. Today, a little less than 700 million people live there (EU 25: 500 million). People wise it is dwarfed by both China and India. Area wise, the US is larger. Economically, Europe beats them all – while its population is 11% of the world, GNP is 35%.
Modern humans in Europe trace back about 35,000 years. By contrast, Africa saw modern humans 200,000 years ago, from which the Europeans evolved. Early Europeans formed small bands of hunters. 10,000 years ago agriculture led to more stable settlements of a tribal quality. Conflicts and territorial competition quickly followed. Civilizations such as Egypt evolved 6,000 years ago. The empires of Persia and Rome came into being about 2,500 years ago. Greece was a major influence in much of the early European days.
Empires withstanding, early Europe was organized around tribes, developing into cities, states and a few other organizational structures. The Holy Roman Empire contained some 300 states. Italy was made up of some 15 distinct provinces. Germany included 38 different states, 4 free cities and five kingdoms. At the time, there really was no such thing as Germany, Italy, France or Europe. This extreme fragmentation prevailed and is still present today.
With fragmentation, war followed as part of an eternal power struggle. Kings, Queens, Kaisers, Popes, Cardinals, Priests, Lords and Emperors all wanted more. At the cost of millions dead, the modern nations eventually evolved. As nations came into being, wars continued while exploitation and conquest of the rest of the world started in earnest. Africa, Asia, America soon knew who the boss was. Europe dominated the world and its nations fought for the prizes, whether Aztec gold or Asian spices.
But wars grew more and more costly while a strange thing called democracy became reality – no longer were divine or not so divine rulers in command – the people became powerful, political parties popped up and most kingdoms became republics. The people took their seat in the sun.
Yet, it took two world wars to finally tear down imperialism, Kaisers, Generalissimos and Fuehrers. Today’s Europe is very different from that of even 100 years ago, not to mention 1,000 years ago. It is working on becoming one bloc as opposed to the thousands of tribes in medieval times. No longer do Europeans have colonies. Kings and Queens, if still present, are figure heads. Emperors are long gone. Perhaps nostalgic about times passed by, Europe adjusted and is doing well.
Europe is still influenced of the old tribes, the habit of making wars and intolerance galore. The Balkan wars of the 1990s are splendid examples of not only tribal wars but the murderous impact of religious fanatics and ethnic cleansers. Iraq, while not part of Europe, shows the same barbaric consequences of religious differences. Ethnic cleansing always was a part of life. Racism is far more common than admitted. The Holocaust was and is not an isolated event.
As recently as a hundred years ago, Europe and its nations were the superpowers of the world. Asia and Africa was split between the masters. North America managed to split away but that was the exception. Europe never forgave the Americans and never will.
So here you are: from tribes to states to nations to superpowers by the way of war after war, followed by collapse. Eventually, a new consolidation came along, this time called the European Union or the EU. Today Europe is a fairly peaceful place. It is rich. Its democracies are more stable than any others. But never forget the Europe of the past. Don’t for a moment imagine racism, tribal conflicts, power struggles and national envy has disappeared.
Alliances – Idealism, Realpolitik,Greed
The Second World War ended, in Europe, in May of 1945. The power structures of Europe were crushed and replaced by those of the USSR and the US. The comeback of Western Europe happened quite quickly while Eastern Europe disappeared into failing Soviet fiefdoms. The Cold War focused on Europe as the main battle ground of America versus the USSR.
Masters of Deception
Europe fought at least 60 wars since 1300, averaging one every 12 years. Casualties are in the hundreds of millions. No country avoided the slaughter; many were almost constantly in conflict. Germany and France lead the charge with England not far behind. Following the collapse of the USSR, many countries reduced their military forces drastically to only support international peace keeping rather than domestic aggression.
The history of betrayal, deception and secrecy is long and colorful. The Europeans are master plotters, negotiators and back stabbers. Here is a short list of events to keep in mind:
- Florence in the Renaissance – a study in betrayals, double crosses, power struggles. The Italian wars of early 1500s – power struggles, alliances, counter alliances and betrayals. The Republic of Venice – profiteering from the Crusades, exploiting trade controls, devious aristocrats, secret police, you name it.
- The secret support from the Roman Catholic Church towards Nazi Germany, during and after WWII. The current Pope Benedict XVI enlisted in the Hitler Youth in 1941 and served in the German air defense. Pope Pius XII is widely known as the Nazi Pope with far reaching involvement in favor of the Germans before, during and after WWII.
- The conspiracy to murder Julius Caesar in 44 BC – “Et tu Brutus”, “Help, Brothers”, “Villain Casca, what do you do?” No plea stopped the murder, no brother or friend interfered.
- Hitler’s 1939 non-aggression pact with Stalin to divide Poland, Finland, Romania and others. Stalin ended up in chock on June 22, 1941 as the Operation Barbarossa attack by Hitler on Russia commenced.
- The murder of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and wife by Gavrilo Princip on June 28, 1914, marking the start of an escalation leading to WWI. Princip was one of six Serb assassins in a madcap and bizarre event.
- The 1884 anti-Semitic conviction of Alfred Dreyfus by France based on falsified evidence. The conviction was engineered by the French High Command. Dreyfus spent 12 years on the Devil’s Island till being pardoned after Emile Zola’s intervention “J’ accuse”. He fought in WWI, ended up a Lt. Colonel with Legion d’Honneur.
- In the 1970s, violent underground terrorist organizations operated in Germany, Italy and elsewhere – The Red Brigade, the Red Faction or the Baader-Meinhof Gang are the most infamous examples. The death toll wasn’t great but the terror factor was effective.
- Consider the plays of William Shakespeare – Betrayal, lust, power, egotism, murder and ambition a galore. Or what about Wagner’s Niebelungen Ring: 15 hours of mysticism, Greek drama, Jungian psychology nonsense, alleged socialist critique. This German high romance was favored by Hitler and the Nazis.
- The Holocaust is by no means the only European anti Semitism tragedy. Pogroms occurred in Poland, pre-Hitler Germany, Spain, Britain, Switzerland and Romania. Anti-Semitism has a history of at least a thousand years in Europe.
- A wave of covert Communist spies originated in the 1930s at upper class English universities, in particular Trinity Hall at Cambridge. Known as the Cambridge Spy Group, John Cairncross, Kim Philby, Guy Burgess, Donald McLean, Anthony Blunt and Michael Whitney Straight all spied for the Soviets after rising to significant positions in the British civil service, including in the Foreign Service, MI6 and MI5. The Group was devastatingly successful. Several defected to Moscow after exposure. Oxford University produced its Oxford Spy Group but with far less success than the Cambridge Group.
- George Blake is another famous spy of the same WWII – early Cold War era, who apparently still lives in Moscow after a successful career for, among others, MI6. Sir Roger Hollis, one time Director of MI5 is a suspect spy of the same mold, as are Peter Ashby, Leo Long, Brian Symon, Goronwy Rees, John Vassall and Victor Rothschild. Quite likely, this is just the tip of the iceberg.
- England is famous for its political scandals: the 1912 Marconi scandal – corruption; the 1963 sexual/spy Profumo Affair that sent Jack Profumo from a Minister post to cleaning toilets at an East End charity; architect John Poulson bribed various politicians until exposed in 1972; the 1973 call girl scandal resulting in the fall of Cabinet minister Earl Jellico;, Liberal Party leader and MP Jeremy Thorpe lost his appointments in 1976 after a gay affair and shooting a dog; author and MP Jeffrey Archer lost his posts in 1999 due to various sex, perjury and fraud accusations; Edwina Currie’s alleged 1984 affair with PM John Major; Scottish party leader David McLetchie resigning in 2005 after submitting false travel expenses; Liberal spokesman Mark Oaten stepping down after gay affairs in 2005; and finally, Tony Blair’s possible involvement in the 2006 Cash for Peerage scandal.
You got to admire the colorful history of scandalous Britain. No other country comes close. Has Europe changed in light of the EU and NATO? Hell, no. The old tribes will get you anytime.
NATO – Center of Leaky Secrets
Initiated in 1948’s Treaty of Brussels and formally established in 1949, NATO provided the first level of integration that included the US as the leader. NATO is a system of collective, mutual security: “An armed attack against one or more of them [members] in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all”. If an attack would occur, “Each of them [members] will assist the Party or Parties attacked by taking such action as seemed necessary, including the use of military force”.
As is typical of European agreements, there is a balance between the collective cooperation and integration versus national sovereignty. NATO provides common security but when the security is breached, each country can decide on its response, if any.
Behind the Iron Curtain, Eastern Europe and the USSR formed the Warsaw Pact in 1955 as a military countermeasure to NATO. In addition to military cooperation, the Pact guaranteed noninterference in each state’s internal affairs. The Soviets used the Warsaw Pact when invading Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968, each time crushing uprisings. The Warsaw Pact fell apart starting in 1988, ending in 1991. Today, these countries, minus Russia, are part of both NATO and EU.
Through the Cold War, NATO was only a deterrence never used beyond sable-rattling to counter Soviet sable-rattling. NATO simply existed as a defense against a Soviet invasion of Europe. NATO would respond using nuclear weapons to overcome the Soviet’s alleged huge advantage in number of tanks, artillery and soldiers. The USSR proposed it should be a NATO member in 1954 to preserve European peace. NATO refused, as you might expect.
In 1958, France revolted against NATO because it felt slighted by the greater influence by the US and the UK. Charles de Gaulle expelled US troops and by 1966, all French armed forces exited NATO. France still is not participating in NATO militarily but remains involved politically in an odd “I’m here, I’m not” game. France contributes a significant part of NATO’s budget and even commits 5,000 troops to Alliance operations.
France has long established a Maverick status in European affairs. National pride, envy of others, pride in their language, general rudeness, intolerable arrogance and a thorough dislike of the US drives sometimes bizarre behavior. Yet, France knows very well it can’t isolate itself and is mostly supportive of European activities. They are not at all supportive of US activities.
Another strange twist is the then-existing and super secret paramilitary group Gladio set up, originally, to fight guerilla warfare behind Soviet lines. Gladio was trained by US Green Berets and British SAS troop, sponsored and commanded by NATO. This partly neo-fascist and ex-SS group carried out dozens of terrorist bombings, snipers shootings, torture, blamed on various leftist groups. Exposed in 1990, Gladio units covertly operated in at least 15 Western European countries. In many cases, the secret armies were well known to the national governments, in some cases not.
NATO conducted, and still run, plenty of covert operations with involvement of Britain’s MI6 and the CIA. Such operations include destabilization through terror in Italy and Belgium, military coups in Greece and Turkey and possibly a failed attempt to oust Charles de Gaulle of France, the infamous Algiers Putsch. NATO certainly is involved in the strange and utterly mismanaged “War on Terror” but its precise role is unknown.
NATO has more skeletons in its closet. Nuclear weapons were deployed without approval by or knowledge of the nations involved. Classified information on the Kosovo war was lost. A spy provided secret information on the Kosovo air operations to the Serb regime. Numerous spies provided information to East Germany, the USSR and others during the Cold War. Security breaches were and are more common that colds. Several NATO countries participated in US covert experiments with chemical and germ warfare involving civilians and soldiers in the sixties and early seventies. NATO was secretly involved with, and supported, terrorist organizations in Macedonia and Albania in the late 1990s.
After the demise of the Warsaw Pact in 1991, NATO had and has considerable difficulty finding a mission. After 40 years of preventing Soviet aggression but without ever having to actually prevent such aggression, it turned towards becoming an international security force. From 1993 through 1995, NATO invoked a non-fly zone to control the fractional civil wars of ex-Yugoslavia. In 1999, NATO fought an air war against Slobodan Milošević’s armies in Kosovo.
The 9/11 2001 attacks on the US led NATO to officially take several actions: militarily NATO provided defense of US airspace by deploying AWACS surveillance and naval operations in the Mediterranean Sea to prevent arms shipments to terrorists. Later, NATO stayed out of the Iraq controversy.
NATO today is in charge of the Afghanistan War. This is the first NATO involvement outside its traditional area,in fact it is NATO’s first involvement in regular combat. The mission is supported by most member states. Recently, the troop count in Afghanistan was about 32,000 from 37 countries. Although under a central command, the forces of each country are operating according to national rules, not NATO rules. The actual fighting is limited to troops from the US, the UK, Canada and the Netherlands. The other 33 countries do not fight. The debate on NATO’s mission continues.
EEC and the EU – Bureaucracy, Economics and Booze
The role as Cold War victims and the common bond of rebuilding a European power structure after WWII led to the formation of EEC, the European Economic Community, in 1957. Over the next fifty years, that organization swept through the entire continent, became the European Union with 25 states as of 2004 and scheduled to go to 27 in 2007.
The EU is in essence a trade bloc with some coordinated internal and external policies. The general goal is to achieve an increasing degree of integration at the expense of some national sovereignty. This goal is open-ended and undefined. In practice, the EU is a number of institutions and common policies.
There are several drivers to the official EU doctrine. First, it grew out of devastating world wars and the threat of nuclear showdowns with the USSR. At least emotionally, there is a “No More Wars” motivation. Second, the creation coincided with a drive for increased equality between sexes, nations and worldwide. Third, the concept of increased international, national and individual solidarity was widely supported. Forth, it brought the hope of increased riches to the powerful elite and perhaps even the common man. Fifth, the economic benefits of trading blocs are well established. Sixth, it counterbalanced the excessive power of the US and the USSR.
The EU institutions include or embrace the mammoth European Parliament (785 elected Members with no direct legislative power), the European Commission, the European Council, the European Central Bank, the European Court of Justice and the Council of the European Union. Common policies include an Economic Policy, a Foreign and Security Policy, a Policy of Police and Judicial Cooperation, an Agricultural Policy, a Fisheries Policy and a Regional Policy to assist EU states in the need of assistance. Add the common currency of the Euro that rapidly became a staple internally within the EU but also an international alternative to the yen and the dollar.
As you might gather, the EU is a classic example of bureaucracy running wild. Not only that, it is a bureaucracy with only a few fangs. Although it can provide a lot of pressure on member states, member states do not always succumb. The Euro, for instance, is the day to day currency in only half of the EU countries.
Integration of longstanding policies of 25 (now 27) countries, from hard line, ex-Communist Bulgaria to bicycle ridden Denmark, to Pound Sterling focused Britain and pot permissive Holland is a painful and sensitive process. That process goes into microscopic aspects of life in the member states. Traditional subsidies are challenged. Social policies are threatened. Protected economic segments might became unprotected. Minor issues can become “do or die” challenges. Major issues are often bypassed, delayed or ignored.
The major countries have organizations responsible for coordinating national policies to those of the EU. Such an organization ensures that a nation speaks with one voice towards the EU. The Open Method of Coordination is a recent concept that takes a soft approach to aligning policies and laws. The method relies on broad EU level policy statements and national, voluntary implementations. The tools include guidelines, bench marks and best practices. The enforcement consists of peer pressure and shaming, not mandates, threats or sanctions.
Here is an example of the issues tackled in great detail in the area of “Social Integration and Inclusion”. Details include: coordinated social and civil dialogues for the homeless, migrants, those disabled (including personal support, use of facilities, discrimination, medical and social care and benefit levels), others not included properly in society, persons with multiple disadvantages, old and young people, race equality challenged individuals, those affected by mandatory retirement, immigrants (legal or not), asylum seekers, refugees, young persons involved in trainee ships and the associated compensation, those suffering persistent and generational poverty, persons discriminated against, individuals affected by minimum income schemes, those overloaded by family responsibilities, self employed individuals and, finally, those dependent on social assistance and those not getting such assistance. Imagine coordinating all this in 27 countries, each with histories of domestic policies going back to the beginnings of life.
Take booze with its age old influence on individual lives. Policies range all the way from liberal (South Europe) to restrictive (North Europe). In France and Italy, wine is part of life, taken for granted and certainly not viewed as sinful. The English like their pink gins, bitters, pints, cider and salty dogs. Many associate Alpine skiing with Jagermeister. In the North, consumption of booze is a sinful act prone to be taxed heavily. It is controlled by the state in order to maintain perceived health standards. Here, booze is sold through government monopoly stores with strict id controls and long queues. Elsewhere you buy it in grocery stores.
The attempts to equalize “alcohol policies” led to the strangest side effects. Previously, tax free shops sold cheaper booze to whoever crossed a border. Such savings became a good reason to cross a border. Smuggling spirits was not a sin to most. Neither was running an illegal home brewery or distillery a real crime. Today, tax free shops no longer do business as borders are wide open. Open markets threaten Nordic tax revenues as EU demands Northern prohibitive taxes on alcohol are lowered dramatically. Internet trade in cases of wine and the like bypass national restrictions to the wrath of policy hawks, holier-than-thou moralists and a concerned medical audience. Booze remains a significant integration issue with high emotional content. No current solution is seen. The battle continues.
Without question, the EEC and the EU benefited, now and in the past, the member states in spite of its weaknesses. Apart from the ex-Yugoslav wars, Europe experienced no wars since the formation of EEC fifty years ago. EU is the world’s largest economy. Coordination of major economic and social policies is a painful process but the result is generally positive.
A question is whether the benefits can remain as the bloc grows ever larger. Economic theory tells us the benefits decline with size as well as over time. Trade blocs really exist to counterbalance natural supply and demand mechanisms. Basic economic imbalances such as non competitive industries are hidden. The East Bloc is a good example with its totally non competitive industries that fell apart when exposed to international competition after the demise of the Warsaw Pact and the USSR.
Life in Europe
Fragmentation, stubborn national legacies, never ending power struggles, scandals, cloak and dagger, national exuberance, betrayals, deceptions mark life in Europe. Europeans are proud of a newfound emphasis on peace, cooperation and social consciousness. That is Europe in all its nuances and complexity. Here are a few other points that may be of interest:
- Europe long was long the only Western center of art, from the Greeks to Leonardo da Vinci, Cervantes, J. S Bach, Daniel Defoe, W. Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven, Charles Dickens, Peter Paul Rubens, Rembrandt, Paul Cezanne, Thomas Mann, Maurice Ravel, Igor Stravinsky, Pablo Picasso, Django Reinhardt, Robert Capa, Olivier Messiaen, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Albert Camus, Gunther Grass, Claude Chabrol, the Beatles, the Rolling Stone, Celtic Dancers and, of course, ABBA. Unmentioned artists, accept my apologies.
- Europe is a center of culinary delights that include boiled brains of calves or beef, breaded testicles, chopped lungs, garlicky snails, tender horse meat, frog legs, tasty kidneys, nutritious blood sausage or pudding, boiled ox tongue, rotten herring, sautéed calf’s ears, pig’s head pudding, raw tartar beef, smoked reindeer, boiled or jellied eels, barbequed pig’s feet or tails and how about braised rabbits. Mmmm.
- Europe really is the origin of great food. Where would we be without: Entrecote, Steak a poivre, Coq a vin, Bouillabaisse, Langoustine, Smoked salmon, Beaufort, Pommes frites, Crepes, Raclette, Spazle, Lasagna, Pâtés and terrines, Brie, Feta, Rosti, Meat balls, Salami, Blau Forelle, Boeuf Bourguignon, Yorkshire pudding, Foie gras, Stilton, Schnitzel, Gruyere, Souvlaki, Spaghetti bolognese, Olives, Fish and chips, Pizza, Frikadeller, Paella, Gorgonzola, Bratwurst, Kartoffelsalat, Jambon de Bayonne, Prosciutto, Moussaka or Scampi.
- Europe is a master of alcoholic beverages: France with more than twenty grape types, over a hundred wine districts and thousands of brands and vintages. Add the six growth areas and grape types for real cognac, the various distilling processes, the aging to VS, VSOP and XO status. Move on to Scotland and Ireland: whisky is made from grains into “vatted or single malt”, “grain” or “blended” variations and aged to many categories, blends and brands. Then there is absinth, pernod, armagnac, akvavit, gin, schnapps, slivovitz, vodka, ouzo, and thousands of liqueurs. Not to mention beer and ciders in endless variations.
- Europe offers seriously excusive travel destinations: cruise the Rhine valley, stay at castles with exclusive dining, admire ruins, check into the Claridge’s, do some river boat cruising, tour the White Cliffs of Dover, ski the Alps, hike from Zermatt, walk the Le Louvre, cruise the fjords, sun on a topless Riviera, gaze at the Sistine Chapel, sail the Greek Islands, stroll Via Veneto, ski Mont Blanc, fall in love in Paris, climb the Matterhorn, stay in Hotel De Crillon or Arctic hotels made of ice, discover the Parthenon, experience the North Cape, pray in the Canterbury Cathedral, visit St. Peter’s Square, climb the Matterhorn, drive at 200 miles per hour on the autobahns, photo the Stonehenge, swim the Bodensee, check the Coliseum, rent an Italian villa and risk your life in Spanish bull runs. Beat that if you can.
- Europe is a worker’s paradise (or so do envious foreigners think): 35 hour work weeks, six week vacations, numerous holidays, extensive child care such as year long birth time off for both for mother and father, generous pensions, free health care, free education to any level, powerful labor unions for Indians and Chiefs alike, employment security and much, much else. The flip side is high taxes and the almost mandatory need for two incomes in any household.
- Europe is not the liberal socialist big brother controller of all life that some expect or assume. Most of its left wingers are really centrists. Most of the right wingers are really, you guessed it, centrists. Power changes hands but basic principles and policies are quite stable. It certainly is an area with more social benefits than others. Centrist probably is a shade to the left compared to some other places. Perhaps the EU uses subsidies more than competitors like. But they sure should not be underestimated.
Europe is an old traditional and cultural society, set in its way and not all that tolerant of outsiders. Food, drink, work&social conditions, art, comforts, spying, deceit, vacations, scandals, pride and war are all items taken very seriously. The rules are set, understood and rarely changed. Consensus is a relative thing, “yes” does not always mean “yes”. Watch your wallet. Watch your back. You are dealing with masters. Smoke and mirrors.
What has this all got to do with Global Warming? Perhaps nothing. I do believe that if you want to understand an issue, you better look at the full picture. It always amazes me that so much, say, American policies and diplomacy ignore that simple rule. You really cannot successfully project your own ideas and expectations on others, especially not mature and sophisticated countries. It is rude and not appreciated. History and age old relations will impact the future and how disasters, such as Iraqi wars and Global Warming, are handled. Who will be the friend, who will be the foe and why?
Energy Facts and Figures
The EU imports 82% of its oil and 57% of its natural gas. Russia is a major supplier, not viewed as reliable after several supply shutdowns. The Mideast provides the rest of imports. The UK, Germany and Poland possess and use major coal resources; the UK, Netherlands and Norway benefit from North Sea oil and gas. Romania has oil fields dating back to before WWII, once the prized conquest of Hitler but now in steep decline.
The EU and the individual states have longstanding policies on energy, conservation and alternative sources. The EU stretches from midnight sun Arctic to the Mediterranean sub tropics. Southern Europe countries have close ties to the Mideast and North Africa going back thousands of years of war, conquest, terrorism, jihads, crusades, deceits and occasional peace. Mid and Northern Europe, with equally long histories of conflict and competition, mixes oil and gas producers with those of almost no energy resources. Northern Europe requires huge resources to combat frozen winters. Southern Europe has far less such need and will need even less as Global Warming continues.
Latitude wise, the northern tip of Europe (the North Cape) is the equivalence of mid Greenland, passes through the Baffin Island and continues well north of Prudhoe Bay and through the northern part of the Siberian tundra. The southern tip of Gibraltar is the same latitude as the Carolinas, San Francisco and Japan. Climate wise, the Gulf stream pushes that northern tip much further south to maybe Newfoundland and the southern tip to Florida. Europe also have east-west differences – the landlocked east is much colder than the coastal west. The point is that a common energy policy has to cover vastly different needs that are not present anywhere else.
Moreover, local conditions have an impact on energy use. In Scandinavia with a large forest product industry, process energy from pulp mills heat nearby homes. Landlords’ heating or cooling obligation of apartments is often mandated in law. Houses, appliances, heaters, machinery and workplaces all are subject to very tight energy conservation standards, in particular in the north. “Green” bulbs are mandated in some areas. Single pane windows are long gone as are, often, double panes. The EU sponsors both individual and commercial driver training for lower mileage under the name Eco driving (shift appropriately, maintain steady speed, decelerate smoothly with minimum braking, use conservative RPM (2,000-2,500) and ensure well maintained engines and tires).
Most energy prices in Europe are much higher than elsewhere because governments want to control and reduce demand while encouraging conservation. For instance, the high gas prices, roughly twice those in the US, are caused by high taxes. Not surprisingly, cars are more efficient and overall energy use is relatively low, growing far slower than in, say, the US or China. European energy use per unit of economic activity is 30% lower than in the US, 70% lower than in Russia and 85% below that of OPEC.
Offsetting the high taxes, subsidies impact areas such as maintaining uneconomical coal mining, subsidizing lower income families, controlling energy prices for different industries such as airlines and promoting various schemes for renewable energy. Subsidies are recognized as inefficiently maintaining status quo but are still used extensively.
Overall European energy production stagnated in the mid 1980s while demand increased by 17% causing rising dependence on foreign sources. The demand increase is well below the world average of 44%. Demand in individual countries varied from an increase of 104% in Ireland to -1% in Germany (the West Germany number is much higher – the decline is due to East Germany shutdowns). The former East Bloc countries typically reduced demand by 15-40% as their antiquated industries collapsed after the Warsaw Pact and the USSR disappeared.
Regardless of all the ifs and buts, subsidies and taxes, driver training and general rhetoric, Europe depends on expensive, non renewable, fossil energy just like the rest of the world. Europe emits frightful amounts of GHGs. Europe’s use of carbon energy is the same as or only slightly below that of other comparable regions. They are a little bit more efficient in the generation of electricity due mostly to efficient hydro and nuclear power generation. They use less air conditioners. More importantly, they do recognize there is an energy problem present called Global Warming.
Please click on the link in the heading above for basic information on the Kyoto Protocol. Use the back button to return here.
CO2 emissions from fossil fuels in Europe have been stable since 1980, neither up nor down. If you exclude the Eastern Europeans with their sorry, dead industries, there was a slight increase. Compare that to a world wide increase of 48%, a 224% increase in China and 271% in India.
By comparison, Europe is doing well but do not approach the goals of the Kyoto Protocol or those suggested by the Stern Report, calling for significant reductions, not stabilization. But the caps mandated by the Kyoto Protocol are dim at best. Many industries are below targets without doing a thing. Others face impossible odds.
From what I can see, the EU is not close to reaching its 8% reduction target by 2010. Mysteriously, the UN applauds Europe is on track. Here is some evidence: The Eastern Europe countries will be below targets. The UK, Sweden and Germany (very much maybe) might end up on target. Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain are forecasted not to reach the mandated targets. Germany is facing more stringent caps (six percent lower than before) after a recent EU decision.
Europe is determined to tackle Global Warming their way. Here are some statements from leaders following the publication of the Paris IPCC report:
- Jacques Chirac, President of France, hosted the meeting in Paris. He, on the last day, promoted his own idea to create a new agency handling Global Warming in a manner more to his liking – partly a forum to insult the US, it seems. 45 nations, such as Algeria, Ecuador, Cambodia, Vanuatu, Seychelles, Gabon and Burundi apparently responded favorably to his proposal although its mission remains completely unclear. The UN responded that organizational changes are less important than actual results.
- The Italian PM wants urgent global carbon taxes and promotes his own ideas of a new UN organization for Global Warming (see point above).
- The new Conservative PM of Sweden declared that Swedish emissions are already so tiny that no further action was required but offered to send its compliance money to China. Sweden seems to have flip-flopped by pushing for mandatory reductions of 30% rather than 20%.
- German Chancellor Merkel’s government, which holds the EU’s rotating presidency, has threatened to block an EU attempt to impose a general emission reduction on the auto sector, insisting the size of cars must be taken into consideration. Apparently this issue is resolved in favor of the German auto industry.
- EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas called on Germany — Europe’s largest economy — to put more efforts behind its promises to combat climate change, saying the nation had failed so far to take a leading role in fighting global warming. Germany apparently is accepting 6% lower caps.
- Czech president Vaclav Klaus criticized the UN panel on global warming, claiming that it was a political authority without any scientific basis. “These are politicized scientists who arrive there with one-sided opinion and assignment,” he told interviewers. “Each serious person and scientist says that global warming is a myth.”
I’d say Europe is playing its age old game of deception and egotism. Yet not quite: in late February 2007, the EU made public a plan amounting to serious CO2 emission reductions, such as 20% by 2020 compared to the 1990 levels or 30% if non-EU countries, notably the US, followed the lead. This is an important step if indeed it is based on real commitment. Some view the proposal simply as a bargaining chip in the face of an updated Kyoto Protocol going beyond the current limit of 2012. Europe is devious.
Please click on the link in the heading above for basic information on Carbon Credits – CERs. Use the back button to return here.
The European Emission Scheme is Europe’s primary trading market for carbon credits. It is geared to trade “Allowances” as its primary unit, although CERs are also traded. An “Allowance” is a somewhat different concept than “CER”. Allowances are allocated to an EU country or a business subject to a cap on how much GHG that entity can emit. If the entity emit less then the balance may traded. Emit more and allowances can be bought.
A CER, on the other hand, is associated with a specific investment elsewhere, preferably in a less developed country, that reduces GHGs. CERs are associated with Annex 1 and Non Annex 1 countries as opposed to the EU alone. Checks and balances hopefully ensure that emission reductions are not double counted. Although being two different concepts, Allowances and CERs are interchangeable in the marketplace.
The current CER system is corrupt. There simply are too few controls, too many loop holes and many inequitable traps. The Kyoto Protocol and its dualism of Annex 1 and Non Annex 1 is the root of the problem. But even so, carbon trading in CERs or allowances if used right can be very beneficial. Here’s how:
Technology exists today to drastically reduce carbon emissions. Two examples from the energy sector: Build second generation power plants that emit far less CO2. Capture CO2 emissions from older power plants and store them in obsolete oil or gas fields (CCS for Carbon Capture and Storage). In both cases, the entity receives allowances in accordance to the reduced emissions. Use the allowances to pay for the investment required. Calculations show that this approach could be enormously profitable.
There is nothing mysterious about the idea. A Cap and Trade system is supposed to work that way. The CER as well as the Allowance system certainly support schemes like this. The problem is the instability of the trading market both in terms of 1) its extreme volatility and immaturity, 2) uncertainty about what the next version of the Kyoto Protocol brings. Investors require some form of Government level guarantees and protection. So far that has not happened although sought for in several EU countries. The UK is a front runner both in the technology and in Government involvement.
It is, of course, hard to justify any investment where part or all of the return is in the form of CERs or Allowances. The price of allowances sold by the Emissions Scheme is now $1.70 compared to $27 on year ago. That’s a drop of 94%. Not only that, the European Emission Scheme is not a permanent organization, it is a temporary trial for a possible world wide system.
As always, different approaches have their moment in the spot light and then most disappear. Carbon taxes are perhaps the most persistent and potentially sensible example. Other ideas include individual carbon credit cards for purchases of carbon intensive products. Another proposal reduces corporate taxes for carbon neutral companies. Extending the concept of Carbon Allowances to individuals is yet another idea. Buy an allowance, fill up the tank.
One particular, different approach is that of the so called Deniers or Skeptics. More common in the US than in Europe, these advocates of right wing ideas deny the existence of an energy crisis and Global Warming in particular. In the US, they exercise considerable power based on similar views held by a moronic Mr. President George W. Bush. As a result, desperately needed reforms are delegated to any hiding place possible. I have yet to see any of these people, including Bush, present credible analysis or evidence of their stand. Mr. Bush claims to have spent $8 billion of climate research, all of which seem to be lost somewhere. Perhaps the three scenarios below will explain why this is such a tragedy.
Three Global Warming Scenarios A La the EU proposal
The EU proposal on the 20-30% emissions reduction across the borders of the bloc will be open to discussion within the EU in March 2007. Who knows the outcome? Let’s try a little guessing game to see what the EU proposal might bring.
My work on Global Warming led to creating various databases and a basic emission to temperature model. This model is real simple compared to the models used by the UN and others. The input is expected emission levels; the output is concentrations and temperatures based on a few simpleminded relationships.
The input relations between emissions, concentrations and temperatures are pretty well known on a macro level. The only other input is the assumed GHG life cycles and an assumption on how much emissions are tolerated by oceans, biomass and how much is counteracted by man made recovery efforts, such as bio engineering, emission storage and cleanup using scrubbers and the like.
Here are three scenarios and the base line:
- Baseline: 2007 emissions worldwide are 6.8 trillion tons CO2 equivalent. The GHG concentration is 385 PPMv. Temperature is 12 degrees Celsius, calibrated roughly to London data. Bioengineering and GHG cleanup and storage will have a significant impact in the optimistic case, then gradually less so in the medium and pessimistic cases.
- Optimistic Case: The EU proposal is successful and the EU convinces the rest of the world to follow course, leading to a world wide goal of a 30% by 2020. World emissions will decline to 4.1 trillion tons by 2050 and 3 trillion tons by 2100.
- Medium Case: The EU reduces emissions by 20% on plan. The rest of the world refused similar cutbacks but reduces the growth by 50% till 2050, then embark on a crash emission reduction scheme. World emission will rise to 15 trillion tons by 2050 and then decline to 8.5 trillion tons by 2100.
- Pessimistic Case: Neither the EU nor the world reduce emissions which will continue to grow. The recent historical growth rate of 3% per year declines to 1.8% by the end of the century. World emission will rise to 21 trillion tons by 2050 and then continue to a mind boggling 50 trillion tons by 2100.
To provide a full picture, the three cases are extrapolated till 2100 because even if emissions are reduced as indicated, inertia will prevent significant impact on temperatures as soon as 2020 or even 2050. Here are the three cases:
Let’s Dream – Optimistic Case
Let’s dream a little: the EU proposal is taken seriously, George Bush flees town, the Religious Right and neo cons disintegrate, China and India see the light and industry captains merrily buy all kinds of CO2 catchers. Miraculously, emission will nose dive, starting real soon. Today’s 6.8 trillion tons of emissions decline to 3 trillion tons by 2100. Even so, the EU goal of 30% isn’t reached till the 2040s – let’s be a little real. To continue the reality check, even with the drastic cuts, the CO2 life cycle emissions don’t peak for fifty years, or not till 2058. That’s the impact of inertia in the atmosphere mix (top graph).
Here is the good news (bottom graph): concentrations peak at about 445 PPMv compared to 385 today, well below the danger signal of 550 PPMv. Temperatures top out at less than a degree above today’s levels. By any known measure, that should keep mankind safe.
Of course, this case will not happen. It is wildly optimistic because of the politics involved. But technically and with the right incentives – it is indeed possible. Will it bankrupt the world? No way. The world would end up in far better shape than today after perhaps suffering some sacrifice. There are even sane arguments that there would be no suffering at all with a drastic scenario like this. The reshuffling of the economies would offer tremendous opportunities in new jobs, innovations and new markets.
Incidentally, it is not the splendid commitment by the EU to reduce its emissions that saved the day. It is not in the power of the EU alone to turn things around. Their emissions are too small in the whole world picture. Without the three big ones on board – the US, China and India, it really does not matter too much what the EU or anyone else does.
It’s a matter of simple math: the EU emits 15% of the total; reduce the 15% by the EU goal of 20%. That works out to a reduction of 3% of the world total. 3% equals less than one year of current growth in emissions. The sacrifice by the EU only delays the catastrophe of doing nothing by less than a year. The real value of the EU proposal is the pressure put on others to follow suit.
Returning to the viability of a drop in emissions of a huge magnitude as described. Is it possible? How could it be done? In the late sixties, warming was not the issue, cooling was. The villain at the time was not CO2 but SO2. SO2 is a cooling, highly pollutant gas that causes unpleasant things such as acid rain. Acid rain destroys forest stands and is generally bad for your health. I’ve covered the details of this in other parts of the essay – the issue was largely resolved by the US passing the Clean Air Act, principally of 1970. Here is the impact on SO2 emissions:
SO2 emissions spiked in the 1940s, no doubt as wartime production of aircraft carriers and tanks took precedence over pollution. By the mid 1950s, SO2 emissions had returned to typical levels but started a rapid growth that peaked in 1970-73. Acid rain and general pollution that actually killed people caused the passage of the Clean Air Act amendment of 1970. The CAA imposed mandatory caps on SO2 emissions and an emission trading system soon followed. Many other countries, notably the UK, following the leadership of the US under, believe it or not, Mr. Richard Nixon, arch Republican.
Several major industries were forced to invest heavily in cleanup equipment, mostly smoke stack scrubbers. It was expensive. It caused difficulties. Industry whined. Some obsolete plants closed. Did it cause serious damage to the economy? The answer is most assuredly no. Did it cause serious suffering? It definitely did not. Did it produce opportunities? Yes it did. Was industry in better shape afterwards? You bet.
Check out what happened. After 10 years of mandatory caps, emissions were down 17% compared to the 1970 level (upper percentages in the graph). The 1990 reduction reached 24% and today SO2 emissions are half the 1970 level. Compared to a case of continued increases in emissions at the trend rate of the 1960s (dotted yellow line in the graph), emissions were down 36% compared to such a “stay the course” trend. That extrapolates to 52% by 1990 and 76% today (lower percentages in the graph).
Those reductions are very close to what is required to eliminate the issue of Global Warming. Simply apply the same tools of caps and trade to GHGs. Question why this can’t be done. Write your Congressman, Senator, Deputy or Representative in the Bundestag, Congress, Senate, Sabha, Parliament, Diet, Folketing, Knesset, Eduskunta, Duma, Bundesrat, Seima, Assembly, Storting, Council, Riksdag or Politburo. Let’s get it done.
The SO2 situation is not identical to that of GHGs. Resolving GHGs and Global Warming is more complex. The SO2 issue was localized to relatively few and well defined industries. The villains of Global Warming cut through far more parts of society throughout the entire world. The SO2 spike in emissions largely lasted ten-fifteen years, not 250 years. The technology and economics are more complex in the case of Global Warming. Sadly, the political attitudes are far less proactive now than in the 1970s. Thank you George W. Bush and Mr. Dick Cheney: we’ll remember.
But no one can tell me it is impossible, crippling or unnecessary to take on and win the battle of Global Warming. All resources needed are present and accounted for: technology, science, R&D, political tools and structures, labor, experts, bloggers, champions, stakeholders, financial resources and real life organizations exist today. It’s just a matter of lightning the fire. Then let’s get it done.
That concludes the optimistic picture. Let’s look at what could well go wrong. At the present time the “go wrong” scenarios are far more likely than the “dream” optimistic case.
Not So Good – Medium Case
The next case is perhaps more realistic but not desirable. The assumption is that the EU goes ahead with its plan of 20% reductions. The rest of the world does little for years as is not unlikely. They start to seriously reduce growth in emissions around 2025 after realizing things are not going too well. Then by 2050, things are sufficiently bad that the world embarks on a panic program to reduce emissions. Luckily, the reductions are real and fast at that point. The bad news: the life cycle emissions will not peak till almost the year 2100. The delay is very, very costly.
The good news is that the panic program will eventually work. But there is more bad news. GHG concentrations will peak at 670 PPMv, well above the 550 PPMv danger zone. Temperatures are up three degrees by the end of the century. Please remember the assumption of successful and major bioengineering and GHG recycling initiatives that went into this scenario. Without such a major program in place, this “medium” case will spin out of control.
The bottom line is that delaying action will put us all in harm’s way. This really is the Russian roulette case; we are running way to close to the edge. With incredible luck; we’ll make it; otherwise we won’t. Which seems simple enough?
Au Revoir, Mon Monde – Pessimistic Case
Good bye, my world. In this case, the EU may or may not valiantly reach for their goal. It won’t matter if they do or not. This case simply assumes the world emissions will continue to grow till the end of the century. Emissions grew at a 3% per year rate on most of the 1900s. That rate would decline a bit due to local cleanups to an average of about 2% per year over the next 93 years.
Emissions will reach 60 trillion tons, about 8 times today’s level. There is no peak in life cycle emissions in sight. Emissions, man made and secondary from positive feedback loops spiral completely out of control. This is the Cataclysmic Apocalypse. At some point not very distant, this process will become unstoppable. No one knows when we pass the point of no return. Some argue we already are beyond that point. Let’s hope we still have some time – 5 years? 10?
The atmosphere’s mix of GHGs race by 1200 PPMv by the end of the century, over twice the danger zone bench mark of 550 PPMv. Temperatures, equally out of control, pass 21 degrees, 9 degrees above today. Here is just a small part of the issues this scenario would bring. The glaciers and ice packs of the Arctic and Greenland are long gone by the end of the century. The big problem will be the melt down of Antarctica. Ocean levels will not rise a few meters but a few hundreds of meters.
But it will not really matter. Few of us would be alive to worry about it. The Religious Right will get their Second Coming. So will most of the rest of us. Is this Liberal Junk Science from an Alarmist Doomsayer? I sure hope so. Do I personally believe this will happen? No, I don’t. I’m just saying it CAN happen, hoping some one will wake up and take the simple steps required to stop this. It’s just a tragedy that George W. Bush has two frightening years to go. He, unfortunately, is a required part of the solution, together with his Indian and Chinese counterparts.
Next and Before
So we are at the end of this winding trail through Europe, wine, food, castles, spies, a cold war, politics, Global Warming, CERs and allowances, acid rain and who can remember what? Do you expect a clever conclusion? I don’t think there is one. Sometimes it is just the journey that counts. So I’ll leave it with that. Below are links to the first three posts in my main Global Warming essay:
- GlobalWarming:1 – Culprits, Scoundrels and Villains
- GlobalWarming:2 – Politics, Scandals, Mass Committees
- GlobalWarming:3 – Few Like It Hot