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Monday Message Board

October 6th, 2014

It’s time for another Monday Message Board. Post comments on any topic. Civil discussion and no coarse language please. Side discussions and idees fixes to the sandpits, please.

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  1. ZM
    October 6th, 2014 at 18:15 | #1

    I found out that France has started a nice new nationalised bank with billions of euros (I suppose they have euros and did not keep the franc like England with the pound) for sustainability and innovation – so projects can get funds at lower interest rates to be more adventurous and get more accomplished.

    We have our clean energy finance corporation – but that has only 2-3 billion dollars to give annually. I think we would need more money than that for encouraging sustainability innovation and getting things done. I wonder if either of the parties might consider turning our cefc into a nice new national bank with many more billions ?

  2. Tim Macknay
    October 6th, 2014 at 19:15 | #2

    @ZM

    You haven’t provided a link, so it isn’t clear precisely what French “bank” you’re talking about. But I wonder if you’re referring to the 10 billion euro funding package described in this article: http://uk.reuters.com/article/2014/07/29/uk-france-energy-idUKKBN0FY20A20140729” (I didn’t link to avoid moderation). The article doesn’t clearly set out the timeframe for the outlay of the 10 billion euros, but assuming it’s annual, on a per capita basis that would put it on a par with the CEFC’s ~$2 billion per annum over the next five years.

    I agree with you though that directing more funds (public and private) towards clean energy and fossil fuel reduction would be no bad thing.

  3. Tim Macknay
    October 6th, 2014 at 19:16 | #3

    Shoot. My strategy to avoid moderaiton failed.

  4. ZM
    October 7th, 2014 at 13:37 | #4

    Tim Macknay,

    I only heard about it at a talk , so I didn’t have a link. But upon looking I think it referred to this new national bank that has 42 billion – so lots more money for sustainability innovation than our just 2-3 billion. Since it was set up by the socialist government – perhaps labor might try it – since Wayne Swan says they are now looking for some new reform since it is a long time since the hawke-Keating reform.

    “France’s Socialist government has moved to fulfil François Hollande’s top election pledge for stimulating business growth by setting up a state-owned investment bank offering €42bn in financial backing for small and medium-sized enterprises.
    The creation of the Public Investment Bank, announced on Wednesday, was the first of 60 measures set out in Mr Hollande’s manifesto during the presidential election campaign earlier this year.”

  5. Tim Macknay
    October 7th, 2014 at 15:28 | #5

    @ZM
    Thanks ZM.

    There’s a couple of articles about it in the online business press (the Financial Tinmes and Reuters). However from what’s said about it in the available online reports, contributing to the clean energy transition will be at best a second-order priority. Its main objective will be to provide investment capital to French small and medium enterprises, which are apparently having trouble obtaining private investment in the current environment. So it isn’t really clear how much of the available funding will actually go to the clean energy activity at this point in time. My guess would be that most of it will go to enterprises unrelated to the energy sector. But that’s purely a guess, of course.

  6. Donald Oats
    October 7th, 2014 at 15:28 | #6

    In just on one year of office, the LNP flakes have taken our public investment in research to its knees, and then some. As one of the recent casualties of the “War on Science”, I am less than impressed with the level of political machete hacking; even if I’d not been directly affected, I’d be just as pretty bloody annoyed at the conduct so far. Surely scientific research is more important than the way it is currently treated. Instead, we wade into a guerilla war of undefinable dimension and duration, and if last night’s Lateline show is any guide, with the US strategy built by the same goons who brought us “Shock and Awe” in the second Iraq War—pity they didn’t give due consideration to the (predicted) aftermath of their strategy then, and why would we believe them that this time they’ve thought that part through?

  7. Tim Macknay
    October 7th, 2014 at 15:35 | #7

    I’d also add that the all the readily available online reports about the proposed French public investment bank seem to date from an announcment by Francois Hollande in late 2012. I can’t find any online source that confirms the bank has been established, or otherwise provides an update on its development. Frustrating.

  8. ZM
    October 7th, 2014 at 15:48 | #8

    Tim Macknay,
    I only heard about it at a talk so I don’t know that many details. I think it would be best to tie the loans to sustainability and social benefits . I think one thing is accountants need to be much improved in doing costs for environmental and social outcomes of the businesses they work for – whether negative or positive. Once accountants are regulated to have to provided these figures then the governments can assist with loans and lower rates etc for positive outcomes and progressively higher taxes on enterprises with negative outcomes . Then businesses are then incentivised to do better at having positive environmental and social impacts – and will have to discuss all these things openly since it will be regulated for.

    Of course, I think a war-time-mobilisation-economy is the needed way – but we could try this incentivisation approach right away beforehand and then if it has some benefits maybe continue it as part of the war-time-mobilisation-economy as an alternative to nationalising everything – because I think people might get cross if everything was just nationalised and the resulting crossness would probably hamper efforts at mobilisation.

  9. ZM
    October 7th, 2014 at 16:23 | #9

    I have looked further into the French Bank and it is part of the national pact for growth competitiveness and employment – which there is a report on

    The bank is to invest according to the National investment Programme in the 5 priority areas of “Innovation and specialist sectors, generic technologies, the energy transition, healthcare and the living economy, training and the social and socially responsible economy.”

    So I think our government should be able to make up national compact with a bank as well without much difficulty if France can do it.

  10. Hermit
    October 9th, 2014 at 10:08 | #10

    They say a camel is a horse designed by a committee but carbon abatement schemes designed by politicians could be worse. Xenophon is saying if we don’t hit 5% emissions reduction by 2020 we’ll mop up with international permits. As the movie mogul might have said ‘in two words path…etic’. We should be reducing emissions 1-2% per year hence 20-40% between years 2000 and 2020.

    The defects of Direct Action have been discussed elsewhere but key shortcomings include limited funding by general revenue, subjectivity and admin effort for setting baselines and the mismatch with the required investment horizon. Now the big copout is international permits which could be bought recently as cheap as 50c per tCO2 compared to $25.40 for the late carbon tax. The permits appear to be rebadged Clean Development Mechanism offsets q.v. which some say are not new absolute CO2 reductions and therefore physically illusory. It follows DA + IP could be an administrative muddle compounded by a scam.

  11. Ikonoclast
    October 9th, 2014 at 11:02 | #11

    If we were serious about carbon abatement we would have a simple, punitive carbon tax which rapidly priced fossil fuels out of business. We would combine this with direct regulation, for example declaring no new coal mines or coal power stations will ever get a permit to be built from now. If we were not serious, we would have lots of complex, pretend, gameable schemes like CCS and an ETS which all put real solutions off into the never-never. Ergo, we are not serious about this issue.

  12. ZM
    October 9th, 2014 at 11:25 | #12

    Hermit – I think you are right with ip being a scam. The only positive it has is as being a way in transferring funds to poor countries – but obviously it is better to just transfer funds in a proper way which is not a scam.

    Ikonoclast – I support divestment , and ANU are heading along the path as well as the uniting church and UNSW now in Australia, and Stanford uni in the usa. One thing though about rapidly turning fossil fuels into stranded assists is the capital that would be destroyed. At the moment divestment is just a small amount of funds – if it became very popular and everyone was divesting (which would be a good success) – we would then maybe need to tackle the problem of having so much capital being destroyed in a short time period. Because assuming we are not just going to nationalise the whole economy (I am not entirely against this in principle but in practice I think people would make a great fuss over it and set back our progress to zero emissions and sustainability) – then we need to maintain sufficient capital in the economy to fund our transition.

    The amount of money globally invested in fossil fuels is quite a big proportion o think – so if this would all turn into stranded assets and the capital destroyed – do you think we would have a big recession/depression? If so – This might make it difficult to achieve what we need to achieve over the next 25 years?

  13. Ikonoclast
    October 9th, 2014 at 13:38 | #13

    @ZM

    As I understand it, divestment means selling assets. If someone like the Rockefeller heirs are selling oil assets or coal assets that means someone else is buying them. Of course, the next set of buyers could become stuck with stranded assets but it appears they are betting against that. Some at least are still betting that all accessible oil and coal will be drilled, mined and burned. The easiest way to strand assets would be to ban their use by law. Second easiest way is to charge punitive taxes. Best of all, combine the two approaches in a graduated but relatively rapid change-inducing manner which best encourages the transition to renewable energy and energy efficiency whilst not knocking the economy on the head with a sledgehammer. This direct approach (not “direct action”which is anything but) also minimises compliance problems and financial economy overheads ie. gaming the system with offsets amd trading in absurdities like the “right to pollute”.

    People enamoured of ETS-es have forgotten a very basic principle. The simplest system which will do the job is the best. Regulate and tax is the simplest system. Over-complex systems in the financial-economic world carry too many overheads, open too many loopholes and encourage too much gaming of the system. The risible total failure of all ETS-es in all jurisdictions to date with respect to CO2 emissions is the empirical proof.

    Sure, an ETS would work, if there were honesty and good intention in the economic system or more correctly in the hands of the corporate capitalists who are manipulating the economic system. But there is not honesty and good intention in the hands of the corporate capitalists. Therefore they must be brought to heel and controlled by democratically enacted regulations and taxes. The approach they favour least is clearly the one they fear, because they know it would work and control them and their excess profits. Why do corporate capitalists favour an ETS? I mean favour it as at least a least worst option from their point of view. The answer is clear. They know they can subvert and cicumvent such a system and even draw more rents from it.

  14. Hermit
    October 9th, 2014 at 14:43 | #14

    It seems every obscure backbencher or minor party senator gets to tinker with emissions abatement schemes so it ends up like a dogs breakfast. I suspect Xenophon has been got at by carbon trading interests and not having a party apparatus finds it hard to know when he is being led. On another front Ms Lambie says aluminium smelters shouldn’t have to pay the LGC component of the windpower supplied part of their electricity bill. Kinda defeats the whole purpose (which she agrees with) of paying extra to renewable energy producers.

    In theory a well designed ETS should reflect the carbon price the economy can afford therefore the public might accept it better than a carbon tax fixed by decree. Now we’ve got no formal CO2 price or cap coupled with rising gas prices it looks like coal use could revive. Recall the NSW Blue Mountains were ablaze in October 2013 now it’s tranquil and AGW is not on the public’s mind.

  15. jungney
    October 11th, 2014 at 19:57 | #15

    I read today, in the SMH, for which I actually passed over coin because old habits die hard, that John Kerry reckons that we have a “small window of opportunity” in which to take, my words now, decisive action to avert a future in which our children and grandchildren will struggle to stay alive on a planet warmed to four degrees. They will wonder what is the point of being alive in such conditions, in my view.

    Elsewhere Ikonoklast, my own age and general background in the left, has argued for an emergency government, a “war” government with emergency powers, as necessary to ecological and social reality.

    The material conditions are that serious.

    So, here’s the go: what about a discussion here on JQ’s blog, one of the last standing real blogs, about what a realistic program might be. As policy, as state policy, excluding the “buy a container and bury cans of food” crowd, mad “survivalists”, who will never understand that sociality and survival are the same thing. If we are fair dinkum, what do we need to do?

    I’ll kick off with the idea that coal miners need to be well and truly paid off, at a good price, for quitting the mines. It will cost us a motza, and empower people who have a subordinate consciousness’ but that is a necessary price of shutting down carbon fuels.

    Here’s a second idea: CSG operators need to be criminalized. Any cowboy outfit needs to understand that the future, their near future, will be subject to serious sanctions.

    I’ll keep advocating for this discussion here at JQ’s, I’ll be a pain, because the next five years are critical.

    On which note, the criticallity of the present, I hope that you all read about the action today and yesterday in the headquarters of AGL, in Melbourne, where a heap of citizens locked on and locked down to make a point about CSG.

    Time, in my view, to put your old corpse on the line.

  16. Ikonoclast
    October 11th, 2014 at 20:56 | #16

    @jungney

    Good points jungney. Perhaps we need a specific sandpit opened for this topic if JQ wants to do it.

    The title might be “What Actions are Needed to Deal with Climate Change?” Perhaps someone can think of better title or framing of the question.

  17. ZM
    October 11th, 2014 at 21:51 | #17

    Jugney,

    There was a 2 day conference at melbourne uni in Winter on a war-time-mobilisation style response, and another talk is coming up soon at RMIT. They go by the name of BreakThrough and it is put together by the melbourne sustainable living festival and the save the planet party. MSSI was involved in putting on the first one – but not the upcoming one at RMIT where one of the speakers is Paul Gilding who will talk on a globally coordinated mobilisation.

    For the first one I had some concerns regarding the prospect some speakers thought for geo engineering – I did speak to one person about this and he said it was because the technical work so far has not shown we can get to zero ghg emissions soon enough and this means reforestation – but the technical work couldn’t work out how to drawdown enough emissions fast enough. I think we might be able to do more reforestation – but I do not know there numbers so they could be right on that even though I certainly hope and pray not. The other concern I had was on social justice and protections for less powerful people in an emergency mobilisation – because I thought of the emergency in India . Hopefully they will have thought about these issues for the next talk.

    I think it would be a waste of money to payout coal miners – we need this money for other things. The air travel industry will need to cease as well – they could move to boats maybe? I think it likely unless we nationalise everything then substantial assistance will need to be made to businesses to transition and also I think energy and material use needs to be constrained – so I do not know how we have a non-nationalised economy with constraints on use (his does a steady state economy work? Who owns production? How is consumption distributed?)

    . A man from a supermarket spoke at a conference I went to – and he said they knew better than to rely on government- but at the same panel people were expecting animal farming to intensify in southeastern Australia – so I think they’re not really giving much thought to how they can get to zero ghg emissions practically. They do know it is important – but at the moment it is not really being apprehended unless you point it out directly.

    I think the time scale is a real difficulty – and the fact we have deskilled in industry . We would need to embark on training and retraining people in construction to design and build sustainably. We need bigger investment in public transport – this will free up roads for more urban reforestation which helps mitigation as well as adaptation through cooling. But retrofitting a whole City or a whole state to zero emissions and then reforesting land is an enormous endeavour within our timeframe.

    The timeframe we have becomes apparent when you think of how long just one new railway line takes to construct and get working. Or that RMIT university began its long term redevelopment in the 1990s and is still continuing now because they cannot afford to do everything at once and shut down the university. And that is just one campus – which is in need of retrofitting despite this work.

    Methane can be limited by a degree by not farming animals – but the methane from inappropriate management of rubbish means our production and rubbish systems needs very substantial reform as well. Also I have not read anywhere yet of how we eliminate nitrous oxide from farming – this would mean stopping using artificial fertiliser – but we would also be stopping having animals farmed so there would not be lots of manure – human waste needs to be treated properly, and I suppose compost as well can be used – but this not using artificial fertiliser could affect both the labour needed for agriculture and the output of farming.

    Lots of Technical work still needs doing at this stage. The Beyond Zero Emissions Land Use report should make a big contribution – so we will have 3 or 4 reports on stationary energy, one on land use – and then we will be awaiting transport. But the technical work that exists is just at the broad brushstrokes stage at the moment – detailed plans for specific areas/industries/systems would need starting on – and how to implement?

    I do not know how mobilisation was implemented in wartime. I suggested we should get our new national bank to help. There were bonds in wartime – so I think bonds are a good idea. You could start bonds right now – in fact I have heard of green bonds but I am not sure what they are. there was also rationing – but that goes back to how businesses survive when consumption is constrained – and you couldn’t implement rationing unless people agreed – which is some time off. So for now people voluntarily limiting their consumption is best I think – but this has follow through effects on government revenue and employment.

    For planning – I like the idea of Eco-districts as hubs for education and training in retrofitting etc so from the main Eco district you would spread sustainability out through the neighbourhoods – you could start implementing these right away like Portland and San Francisco have – but it would be fairly slow and the government would have to work out an arrangement with developers probably. I would suggest since we are unhappy with the public-private-partnerships they could try participatory-public-private-partnerships like in Brazil but on a bigger scale – these sounded promising from what little I have heard of them and they include the public.

  18. jungney
    October 12th, 2014 at 12:56 | #18

    @Ikonoclast
    Well, lets hope John agrees 🙂

  19. jungney
    October 12th, 2014 at 13:01 | #19

    @ZM
    I’m not committed to the idea of paying off mine workers. In fact, I’m not committed to any idea except one that might be effective. Here in the Hunter Valley the miners and associated mine workers have significant voting and cultural clout so my proposal was merely wondering out loud how their political influence could be neutralized. Anyway, looks like the Chinese will achieve that effect here in Australia with tariffs.

    I certainly agree with your suggestion of massive reforestation. There is land everywhere lying idle, too poor for crops or animals, that could be resumed and reforested. Urban reforestation for cooling and public transport are urgent. I’d put public transport (rail) infrastructure in the top five priorities of climate change amelioration.

  20. BilB
    October 12th, 2014 at 14:10 | #20

    For the lazy weekend a “spot the difference” set of images

    From Catallaxy

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kSugIzPGa5I

    From SkepticalScience

    www dot cornwallalliance dot org (you need to replace the dots with dots to make this link work)

  21. BilB
    October 12th, 2014 at 14:32 | #21

    I just got censored over at Catallaxy.

    It seems that the Libertarians don’t really believe in freedom of speech and expression after all. We all know about JoNova’s tactics but now it seems that Sinclair Davidson was cast in the same mould.

  22. jungney
    October 12th, 2014 at 15:35 | #22

    “In the vast majority of people, there will be no ill effects, and those who are affected will mostly demonstrate subtle shifts of behavior. But in a small number of cases, [Toxo infection] may be linked to schizophrenia and other disturbances associated with altered dopamine levels—for example, obsessive-compulsive disorder, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, and mood disorders.

    Cats!

  23. BilB
    October 12th, 2014 at 16:38 | #23

    Not so far fetched, Jungney. I’ve long argued (along with others) that libertarians suffer to some degree from a form of cognitive dysfunction that reduces their empathy for the situation of others.

    Could this be linked to Cat carried parasites? Could the US economy be in the grip of parasite infected loonies? Framed that way it is entirely plausible.

  24. BilB
    October 12th, 2014 at 16:54 | #24

    I earned this response from Sinclair Davidson

    “Ah! Sinclair,

    So you do have censorship over here at the Liberty free expression of opinion site. Do they pay you extra for that service?

    [It’s always interesting to see how people react when their comments get eaten by the spaminator. Some people realise what is happening and email me, others wait patiently knowing that I’ll probably get around to unspamming them. Other get all paranoid and heap on the abuse.

    You’ve been flying under the radar for a long time BilB. But what better way than to attract my attention than by getting yourself spammed and then abusing me? How better a way to get me to read back through your long history of trolling and abuse? Just not too smart. Sinc]”

    And there was me thinking I was being absolutely gentlemanly compared to the horrendously abusive style of other commenters. Badge of honour, well earned.

  25. jungney
    October 12th, 2014 at 19:43 | #25

    @BilB

    Could the US economy be in the grip of parasite infected loonies?

    Ooooh, yes, for sure and more.

  26. Megan
    October 14th, 2014 at 18:54 | #26

    I see the NSW premier is appearing in the latest TV ads for Murdoch’s ‘Daily Terror’.

    Leaving aside the total wrongness of this, can anyone think of another example of a sitting Premier appearing in a TV advertisement for a commercial product?

  27. October 16th, 2014 at 14:38 | #27
  28. October 16th, 2014 at 15:18 | #28

    Ebola risk – some questions from an old RN

    I recently received a message from one of those petition organisations, which advocated sending Australian volunteers to Ebola stricken countries. I used to be an infection control nurse union rep in a detox at the time when HIV and various more infective new hepatitis bugs were becoming too obvious to ignore. Although I have not worked in the field for a year, the messages I am getting from the media and other contacts lead me to think that the problems of infection control I discuss below continue in our health-care and lay community. Chief among them are a confusion between virocides (which kill viruses) and a motley series of bacteriocides (which kill selected bacteria). I welcome comment and discussion and apologise to health professionals out there who I may have underestimated. I have written this article because I am a bit worried.

    Whilst I applaud the suggestion of sending medical and nursing volunteers, I cannot support them without additional recommendations:

    that countries sending volunteers do this in dedicated airlines and other transport that will be subject to rigorous infection control

    that countries sending these volunteers stringently quarantine them for adequate number of weeks upon their return

    Otherwise, what you are recommending will only fuel a global pandemic.

  29. Megan
    October 16th, 2014 at 21:25 | #29

    From: Wikileaks DOT org

    Today, Thursday 16 October 2014, WikiLeaks released a second updated version of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Intellectual Property Rights Chapter. The TPP is the world’s largest economic trade agreement that will, if it comes into force, encompass more than 40 per cent of the world’s GDP. The IP Chapter covers topics from pharmaceuticals, patent registrations and copyright issues to digital rights. Experts say it will affect freedom of information, civil liberties and access to medicines globally. The WikiLeaks release comes ahead of a Chief Negotiators’ meeting in Canberra on 19 October 2014, which is followed by what is meant to be a decisive Ministerial meeting in Sydney on 25–27 October.

    Cue ‘crickets’ from establishment media until they’ve worked out their ‘traitor’ talking points and personal slurs.

  30. BilB
    October 18th, 2014 at 11:56 | #30

    If there is anyone left who bothers to look in at Catallaxy these days will see that Sinclair Davidson is so heavily compromised wth his obsessive pawnography that his blog site has become the jackboot troop of the coal industry PR machine maintaining word perfect sychronicity

    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/planet-oz/2014/oct/14/how-big-coal-is-lobbying-g20-leaders-and-trying-to-capture-the-global-poverty-debate

  31. ZM
    October 18th, 2014 at 16:24 | #31

    There is a mooc taken by the sustainable development solutions network based on the recent pathways to deep decarbonisation report, first half on information, second half on pretending to be delegates and negotiators. This is a good way to learn more about the aforementioned report, to explain that this reports path is not sufficient, so we need to go much further than the report, and see what people from non Anglo countries think.

  32. Ikonoclast
    October 19th, 2014 at 06:30 | #32

    I had to look up “mooc”. It turns out a “mooc” or rather a MOOC is a Massive Open Online Course. When you want to use an acronym, the acronym should be written out in full the first time it is used, followed by the abbreviation in parentheses, e.g. Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Thereafter use the abbreviation to your heart’s content.

  33. ZM
    October 19th, 2014 at 12:59 | #33

    Ikonoclast,
    Sorry, I should have done as you suggest. There is another course offering in November on ‘planetary boundaries’ which you might be interested in as I think the focus is on limits to growth and possible ways to proceed hereon.

  34. Hermit
    October 19th, 2014 at 13:27 | #34

    Even the Sunday paper had a liftout on sustainability. Perhaps the first missive should be don’t buy newspapers made from dead trees. I hope not to die soon but it had an interesting section on green funerals. 50 kg of GHG’s from an adult male cremation apparently. Another section urged us to jump in kerosene burners and eat the local livestock in out of the way restaurants. It seems sustainability is an each way proposition these days.

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