Just as budgets steer every household and every corporation, so should every nation signed up to the Paris Agreement be steered by a carbon budget. This carbon budget should be treated like a monetary budget, the actions of the Swedish Government (even with the Green Party in power) up to now can only be described as fraudulent. This message comes from Climate Scientist Kevin Anderson, most recently in his presentation to the Swedish Climate Folk Parliament on the 5th May 2018 as it passed a motion to adopt such a budget.
The reasoning is this: the amount of carbon each nation can emit is limited if the planet is to avoid the worst-case effects of accumulated carbon in the atmosphere. The limits must be imposed now considering that the effects of carbon dioxide emitted today can last from hundreds to thousands of years. In other words, what we “spend” today cannot be spent again.
Kevin Anderson does not mince words:
” We knew in 1990 that people would die. We have lived for 28 years knowing this and done nothing. Swedish emissions grew 68 percent from 1990 to 2016″.
Professor Anderson underscores the unfairness built into the lack of action.
“We knew that the people who would die would be the poorest, themselves the lowest emitters and most likely not white. And we have continued.”
Calling the current mechanisms to reduce carbon emissions fraudulent he cites:
- Emission trading schemes EUETS – that have meant that the price on carbon is virtually nothing.
- Offsetting and the Clean Development Mechanism as “paying other people to diet for you.”
- Schemes like afforestation as predatory delay.
The fraud does not stop there: carbon accounting in the Swedish law excludes shipping and aviation which the Swedish Government actually plans to expand.
If a stock-market listed company announced as a certainty it would be making money from technology that they could only offer either sketchy proof or drawing board sketches, it would risk being fined for misleading investors. Not so for Swedish carbon accounting. Their budgets rely on NET – negative emission technologies that they hope will be developed and made to work by coming generations.
The audience, mostly made up of ordinary but concerned Swedish Citizens, heard Kevin Anderson implore them to support policy makers to act honestly and with integrity to introduce a strict, science-based budget for emissions. He believes policy makers will meet compact resistance and is convinced that economists will oppose the idea.
Not all economists. The Swedish Sustainable Economy Foundation joined the Swedish Climate Parliament presenting its own motion calling for policy makers to introduce economic reforms that give an economic edge to circular, defossilized business practices. Says TSSEF co-chairman Anders Höglund,
“We under-estimate the power of entrepreneurship. It only takes a few percentage points of profitably of clean over fossil for investors to leap into action and snatch up the brightest innovators.”
The Foundation’s proposal includes a levy on all fossil fuels entering the Swedish economy. This levy will be increased at regular intervals by large enough amounts until the budget trajectory is reached. And the money collected goes to every taxpayer so they can afford to buy circular, carbon-free alternatives. The Foundation invites economists to collaborate to help transition Swedish economic development to the green, equitable economy the Paris agreement and the Swedish government has promised.
Further Reading (in Swedish ):
- The Swedish Climate Law
- The Strict Carbon Budget motion to Parliament
- The Swedish Sustainable Economy Foundation motion (recommended, not passed)