Showing posts with label race. Show all posts
Showing posts with label race. Show all posts

Friday, May 11, 2012

Slow bicycle race or Tour de France?

A slow bicycle race is a novelty event found mainly at school fetes and community events. The winner of the race is the person who takes the longest time to cover the course.

The current trend towards bicycling lifestyles, downsizing and the general slow movement is bringing a resurgence in this old favourite. The slow bicycle race has even been used as a teaching tool for university physics.

It's a pity that so many nations have treated the transition to a low carbon economy as a slow bicycle race. Somehow, they imagine that being the last to decarbonise will give them a competitive advantage.
Yes, it's necessary. A very good idea. We should do it. You go first.
 This is like saying,
  • We're shocking polluters, but look! those guys are too. We won't fix our pollution till they fix theirs.
  • Sure, we've got a poverty problem, but they have too, and we won't fix our poverty problem till they fix theirs.
Other countries are going first. Countries like Germany, Denmark, Spain and Great Britain took the lead by implementing renewables even when wind and solar were much more expensive than fossil fuels. Then transition countries like China joined the race with strenuous efforts to implement renewables, placing them neck and neck with Germany and the U.S. in 2010.

In recent weeks, South Korea and Mexico have announced carbon pricing schemes. California and New York are connecting their carbon markets and the upper Amazon state of Acre is negotiating with California to participate their cap-and-trade system.

Do you know those velodrome races where everybody hangs back, jostling for position, then suddenly, heads down, legs pumping, they're racing flat out to the finish line? Is this what is happening now?

Are countries  on the cusp of realising that it's not a slow bicycle race, it's the Tour de France? Countries that are late to decarbonise will be the losers in the longer term. 

Dylan's words apply again...
For the loser now
Will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin'.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Who is winning the race?

Right now, nations are racing towards the new low-carbon future.

Fossil fuels can only get more expensive because the cheapest reserves have already been tapped and new reserves are more expensive. When industrialised economies were developing, oil was the equivalent of $13 a barrel, but now countries must pay $120 to $130, according to Fatih Birol of the International Energy Agency.

Another factor making fossil fuels more expensive is the increasing recognition of the damage caused by greenhouse gases and the impact of global warming. More countries are imposing carbon taxes/prices which will add to the cost of fossil fuels.

The race is on – 2011 was the first year that global investments in renewable energy surpassed investments in fossil fuels. 

European countries are ahead in the race because they started running years ago, while others watched from the sidelines. Now more countries are also running hard.

Some runners have been slowed down by fossil fuel interests that have undermined public confidence in the science behind climate change.  These countries are hobbled by their misinformed electorates.

Who are the winners? Anyone who is ahead of the pack will be a winner because they will avoid the worst impact of rising fossil fuel costs. Eventually, everyone will get there, but the laggards will pay a high price. Fatih Birol, head of the International Energy Agency, says that for every $1 that countries do not spend on cleaner fuel, they will have to spend $4.3 within the next two decades to make up for their reliance on fossil fuels.

Rich countries have a moral obligation to help poor countries keep up with the main pack.

Scott Mandia, a professor of meteorology at Suffolk County Community College in New York uses this analogy.  He is the founder of The Climate Science Rapid Response Team and The Climate Science Legal Defense Fund.  He is a leading US voice in engaging the public, media and his students about the serious threat of climate change.

Source: Be Green

Bloomberg New Energy Finance produces a ranking of the Top 20 Green Banks which it bills as The Race for Clean Energy.