"Do They Know It's Climate Change At All?"  Paris COP21 is over (If You Want It).  Enough of politics.  Back to reality.  Have a great holiday :)
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Welcome to the December 2015 TEQs newsletter

Brought to you by the Fleming Policy Centre

The aftermath of COP21

As the fallout continues, many of you may be confused by the outcome of the recent COP21 climate talks in Paris, variously reported as:

"A victory for all of the planet and future generations" ~ John Kerry, U.S. Secretary of State
"We did it!  A turning point in human history!" ~ Avaaz
"10/10 for presentation, 4/10 for content" ~ Kevin Anderson, climate scientist
"A historic moment and positive step forward ... but not the legally-binding science and justice-based agreement that was needed" ~ Friends of the Earth UK
"A sham" ~ Friends of the Earth International
"It's a fraud really, a fake" ~ James Hansen, climate scientist
"Our leaders have shown themselves willing to set our world on fire" ~ Naomi Klein, author/activist
"Epic fail on a planetary scale" ~ New Internationalist
The US is a cruel hypocrite. This is a deliberate plan to make the rich richer and the poor poorer” ~ Lidy Nacpil, Asian People’s Movement on Debt and Development
Our take is that when there is a fundamental rift between the physical reality of our changing climate and the political reality tasked with responding to this, this agreement - based on voluntary emissions pledges which even if met would mean more emissions in 2030 than today - is a clear win for political reality.  In other words, a clear loss for every life form dependent on a livable climate.

Sadly, it is not hard to identify the agendas of those hailing the Paris agreement as a great success.  The whole conference has, in essence, been smoke and mirrors, distracting us from the real work of reintegrating human society with the reality that it depends on. As most impartial observers predicted, the UN have again failed to deliver an agreement that preserves the future of either humanity or the wider biosphere.

The Paris agreement is, in short, based on non-binding commitments to deliver on dodgy mathematics through the application of technologies that do not yet (and may never) exist

TEQs is the alternative - a Citizens' Energy Framework for retaining both a benign climate and secure access to energy.

In other words, everything we love.

How can a national policy like TEQs deliver on a global problem like climate change?

So if we can't pin our hopes on international politics, surely all is lost?  TEQs could provide the method for countries to implement national carbon budgets, but surely that's useless if they can't agree such budgets in the first place?

Well, happily, no!  Firstly, the ever-swelling army of citizen activists have never been less invested in the spectacle, glamour and greenwashing of the international talks.

And importantly, TEQs is not only suited as the necessary complement to global agreement on emissions reductions; it is equally suited as an alternative to such negotiations...

As discussed in our peer-reviewed paper, any country or countries implementing TEQs will introduce import tariffs alongside, to ensure that their manufacturers are not disadvantaged relative to international competitors (discussed in brief here).  

These tariffs will generate revenue for the 'TEQs countries' when they import goods.  And importantly, this will in turn provide a strong incentive for the exporting countries to themselves implement TEQs or a similar policy, so that they can collect this revenue, instead of letting it flow overseas. 

In this way, effective climate policy spreads around the world, without the necessity for the apparent impossibility of a global agreement.

And what about carbon pricing?

There is currently a big push from business, politicians and the media towards 'carbon pricing' as the means of decarbonising society.

This is being led by the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and several large oil companies, and Tom Burke of E3G has written an essential short piece uncovering their motivations.

All this makes our paper all the more timely, untangling as it does the confusing terminology that is misleading the world.  For example, what is universally known as 'cap and trade' involves no cap at all, leaving no recognised name for schemes like TEQs that advocate a real cap on emissions.

This linguistic sleight of hand has left the simple fundamental difference between quantity-based schemes and price-based schemes little-understood even in climate policy circles, and is allowing carbon pricing to masquerade as a real solution, as Shaun explored in a blog post on his Dark Optimism site.

(and today he's added another, on TEQs and James Hansen's Fee & Dividend)
How TEQs would work
Here is the gorgeous cover for the full posthumous publication of TEQs creator David Fleming's unique masterwork Lean Logic: A Dictionary for the Future and How to Survive It, which is now available for pre-order, and has its own dedicated webpage.

Note that TEQs is only one of 400+ entries therein, so this book gives a MUCH broader idea of Fleming's radical vision.  You can read the blurb here.

Our own Shaun Chamberlin prepared his great friend's manuscript for publication, and marked the recent fifth anniversary of Fleming's death by releasing his editor's preface

Pre-orders can now be placed with Chelsea Green (U.S. orders - currently offering a 35% pre-Christmas discount!) or the Green Shopping Network (U.K./European orders)
Shaun has also produced a paperback version in a more conventional read-it-front-to-back format.  Both books will be published simultaneously in the summer. 

Surviving the Future: Culture, Carnival and Capital in the Aftermath of the Market Economy is intended to provide a lighter introduction to Fleming's entertaining writing.  Click the cover above for more details.

Pre-orders can now be placed with Chelsea Green (U.S. orders - currently offering a 35% pre-Christmas discount!) or the Green Shopping Network (U.K./European orders)
Please follow our Twitter account: @TEQsUK
The campaigning community Avaaz are discussing the possibility of running a campaign for TEQs in 2016.  If you are among their 40 million+ members, do drop them a line in favour.
Help make TEQs happen

Our paper on TEQs now most-read in the history of Carbon Management!

In this context, our peer-reviewed paper, "Beyond carbon pricing to TEQs – reconciling scientific reality with realpolitik", has attracted exceptional interest. 

A big thank you to all who have shared and circulated it to date.  It is now comfortably the journal's most-read paper ever, having been downloaded from the journal's website over 3,000 times.

Accordingly, Carbon Management have made it free-to-access throughout Paris COP21 and its aftermath.

Those who have read it will know that it contrasts TEQs' hard cap on emissions with the ‘carbon pricing’ approach (carbon taxes and emissions trading schemes) that has undermined public engagement with, and support for, climate policy.  More on that below.
Altmetric track over 4.5 million papers (across all disciplines), and place our paper in the top 3% most-discussed

Big thanks to Vanessa Spedding in particular for her work in spreading the word, and to the others who have written about it, including
EurekAlert, Scientists for Global Responsibility, Biff Vernon, Plymouth University and Environmental Research Web, among many others.

Leading climate scientist Kevin Anderson on our paper

Our paper initially emerged from the Radical Emissions Reductions conference that Prof. Kevin Anderson organised at the Royal Society in December 2013. 

The event was premised on the idea that while policy options are often rejected for being 'too radical', they are far less radical than the status quo option of dramatically altering our climate.

As such, it provided a space to discuss the likes of TEQs, and ultimately to this summer's publication of
the "Radical Emissions Reductions" special issue of Carbon Management in which our paper featured.

That issue also featured an excellent editorial lead-authored by Kevin himself.

Wider promotion for TEQs

As well as all the interest in our academic paper, many others have been doing their bit to spread the word about TEQs.  Here are those we've heard about or been involved with:
  • The images above and below are the two sides of a printed infographic developed by the Resource Cap Coalition to promote the idea of energy caps at the European level.  They are also in discussions over econometric modelling of TEQs, to study the likely impacts on energy prices were the system to be used to cap emissions.
  • Veronika Kiss of the Resource Cap Coalition has delivered presentations on TEQs at international conferences on fields as diverse as Ecological Economics, Geography and Sociology.  This wide interest and applicability reflects the 'systems thinking' approach through which TEQs was developed.
  • The ESRC Festival of Social Science at Plymouth University hosted a fantastically well-received event on "Engaging Individuals in Responses to Climate Change", with TEQs a core topic of conversation.
  • Richmond Green Party hosted a positive and entertaining event exploring TEQs and its implications, attended by Tom from our team.
  • Transition movement founder Rob Hopkins declared in an interview that: “The one policy change that would most assist my work/hopes/dreams would be David Fleming’s rather brilliant idea of Tradable Energy Quotas.  It would unlock so much.”
  • Leading environment/energy thinker Richard Heinberg called for the Paris climate summit to cap fossil fuel production, pointing them towards TEQs in order to do so.
  • As discussed in our previous newsletter, Dr. Chris Shaw of Oxford University's Environmental Change Institute (and now Climate Outreach) is lead-authoring an academic paper for the prestigious Nature Climate Change journal.  This is based on interviews and workshops conducted across 2014/2015 which explored the policy frameworks that could support grassroots engagement with climate change, including TEQs.
Donate to the TEQs campaign
"Wisdom is intelligence drenched in culture" ~ David Fleming
"This eloquently presented proposal merits very serious consideration by all political parties. There remains an undeniable gap between the current policy mix and what we actually need to do urgently both to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and to avoid the potentially devastating consequences of declining fossil fuels. TEQs offer significant policy advantages in addressing both those pressing imperatives."

~ Sir Jonathon Porritt, Founder Director, Forum for the Future
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