Sunday, 2 December 2018

Climate change: the poor must not pay

For some time now, people have been asking who should be paying to reduce carbon emissions:
How to make rich countries pay for climate change — Jeffrey Sachs (2012)
Who Should Pay Climate Change Costs? - Our World (2013)
The fight over who should pay for climate change – POLITICO (2015)
The global philosopher: Who should pay for climate change? - BBC News (2016)
Who should pay for damage associated with climate change – and who should be compensated? - The Conversation (2017)
Climate Change and Reparative Justice: Interrogating the Polluter Pays Principle - ABC Religion & Ethics (2017)

However, as has been shown with what's happening in France, it's not just a question of whether it's rich countries which should be paying for their carbon pollution - but whether it's the rich in general who should:
Futures Forum: Climate change: France introducing a carbon tax is "a masterclass in how not to sell climate policy" 

In France, the pain behind the ‘yellow vest’ protests is felt mostly outside Paris

A demonstrator wearing a yellow jacket waves a French flag during a demonstration Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018 in Paris. (Thibault Camus/AP)
December 1 at 12:08 PM

BESANÇON, France — The scenes from Paris have been arresting, as protesters marched down the Champs-Elysees, the grandest avenue in the city, hurling projectiles at police and being tear-gassed in return.

But it is in smaller French towns and cities like this one, nestled in the foothills near the Swiss border, where the anger is most deeply felt. People here are dependent on their cars, and so they are especially frustrated with rising diesel prices and a new gasoline tax — the issue at the core of the national “yellow vest” movement that has produced marches and roadblocks throughout France in recent weeks.

“Ask a Parisian — for him none of this is an issue, because he doesn’t need a car,” said Marco Pavan, 55, who said he has driven trucks and taxi cabs in and around Besançon for the better part of 30 years. “We live on the side of a mountain,” Pavan said. “There’s no bus or train to take us anywhere. We have to have a car.”

Many people here are also keenly frustrated with their president. They see Emmanuel Macron as part of an elitist coterie that neither understands nor cares how they live, or how the decline of traditional industry has hollowed out their city and limited their prospects.

“And then there’s the disdain — he openly mocks people,” said Yves Rollet, 67, a Besançon retiree who was passing the time on Wednesday listening to a Bach concerto in his parked car. A yellow vest was visible through the windshield. Rollet said he participated in last weekend’s protest because he was fed up with how Macron governs monarchically and is dismissive of poor and working people.

Rollet recalled an incident in September when Macron told a young, unemployed landscaper it should be easy to find a job. “If you’re willing and motivated, in hotels, cafes and restaurants, construction, there’s not a single place I go where they don’t say they’re looking for people,” the French president, a former investment banker, said to the young man. “We called him the ‘president of the rich’ from the beginning,” Rollet said. Noting how often Macron, who ran as a centrist, employs the phrase “at the same time” in his speeches...

In France, the pain behind the ‘yellow vest’ protests is felt mostly outside Paris - The Washington Post

A problem is that the 'liberal elite' are not perceived as living how they preach - as noted, unsurprisingly, by Fox News:

Al Gore Committing 'Class Warfare' Through Climate Change Fanaticism

Nov 29 2018

Author and columnist Mark Steyn reacted to former Vice President Al Gore calling President Trump "the face of climate denial" and continuing his crusade to purportedly save the Earth from global warming.

He said with that development and a similar expiration of a warning from Prince Charles, people "realized it was a boutique concern."

He said that Gore's Tennessee mansion uses 20 times the amount of "carbon footprint" than the average American home and that he can jet around to climate conferences without guilt -- while the rest of the country is told not to do so.

"It's actually a form of class war," he said. "It's a way for elites to tell people... like Joe Schlub -- you need to give up your washing machine" and launder your clothes on a riverbank in a more primitive fashion.

The rich do indeed build fine mansions - ones which can withstand hurricanes:

The Palace and the Storm | Kate Wagner | The Baffler
Futures Forum: Climate change: the future of the built environment >>> the buildings of the wealthy will stand, and the rest will be flooded, crushed, or blown away

This is called 'moral hazard':

If those who are emitting the most greenhouse gas are the least affected by direct global warming impacts, how shall we motivate them to change?

How are the poor impacted by climate change? - Skeptical Science

As noted recently by an Israeli academic:

When It Comes to Climate Change, the Rich Are the Culprit – but They Won't Pay the Price

An oligarch does as much damage to the climate in a day as an average person does in five years, according to 
Prof. Dan Rabinowitz a leading anthropologist and environmental researcher. Nevertheless, he remains hopeful

By Ayelett Shani Sep 20, 2018

By chance, the timing of my call was good.

Indeed. I’ve just returned from a sabbatical in New York. I taught at Columbia and took part in a research group on inequality – specifically, in my case, carbon inequality. Actually, what most interests me is mapping carbon dioxide emissions for different strata of the population. Within the framework of my research, I focused on the wealthiest people, in the very highest percentile.

What did you discover?

The bit of information that I like most came from a woman who manages an agency in Monaco harbor. Her agency prepares the yachts that belong to world’s richest people, which anchor there ahead of their cruises – from maintenance of the engine to whatever capricious thing the owners may want.

What did she tell you?

One evening this woman gets a phone call from the personal secretary of an oligarch’s daughter. It turns out that the family had landed just a few minutes earlier, and when they got to the yacht the oligarch’s daughter discovered she’d forgotten her baby intercom at home in Moscow. No problem, the woman tells the secretary, I’ll send someone to buy a new intercom; in a quarter of an hour it’ll be with you on the yacht. No, the secretary replies, the lady doesn’t want a replacement, she wants the original from Moscow.

The poor baby.

So what do you think happened? The private plane that had just landed flew back to Moscow. Three-and-a-half hours each way. An emission of 49 tons of carbon dioxide just to bring the intercom.

What are the implications of that story? Can you rate it according to some sort of scale?

The average Israeli citizen is responsible for the emission of 11 tons a year. That includes everything. His flights. His home. His car. Everything.

Is that considered high or low, relative to the rest of the world?

It falls on the average-high side for an industrialized country. Higher than most countries in Europe, where public transportation and energy conservation are more developed. In short, in one night, the oligarch’s daughter had the impact that the average Israeli generates over five years. That’s actually the whole story in a nutshell.

We started from the end. Now it’s almost superfluous to ask what climatic injustice is.

Climatic injustice takes two forms. First there is the exposure side – namely, how vulnerable we are to the effects of climate change. Of course people who live in undeveloped and desert countries are far more vulnerable to temperature increases, water distress, rising food prices, etc., than affluent people living in developed countries. I deal with the second half of the equation: Who contributes most to climate change.

The equation is clear from that perspective: Rich people contribute more, the poor less. Significantly.

By rough estimate, about half the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere stem from the electricty production by power stations. Another one-quarter comes from transportation and the rest from industry. Since Third World countries are obviously less industrialized, they also cause less pollution. Moreover, their industrialization process got underway much later than in the countries in northern and western Europe and in North America, which have been industrialized for 200 years.

And at the same time the stronger countries have relocated most of their production to the undeveloped countries. The contribution of China to the level of greenhouse gases around the globe, which is more than Europe and North America combined, doesn’t stem only from consumption by the Chinese themselves.

China today produces the largest quantity of greenhouse gases. A considerable proportion of that is due to the fact that the whole [developed] world is exporting its industries to China. Most of the studies that deal with the subject draw a comparison between countries, but because I come from the fields of sociology and anthropology, my research deals with a comparison within countries. I actually want to show that the rich contribute a great deal more to the climate crisis, yet the likelihood they will survive it and not have to pay a price for their actions, is far greater. That’s true both within states and between states...

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