COP15 Copenhagen, it’s legacy and a possible solution

I have watched the developments of COP15 theese days and it seems to me even more talks are requred to get the world in tune with the “climate change song”. Yet i have seen unprecedented will and unparalled actions from people getting together and organizing for common goal. There are 2 more days until the end of COP15 but a final treaty is just some steps more to go, sadly more than 2. I hope the needed steps will be swiftly taken after the ending of Copenhagen summit.

Sadly i watched as the lack of consensus needed to take a firm decision is bringing negotiations to a halt. The reasons to this possible “failure” i think are lying in the complicated perspectives we are seeing this matter. We need to simplify things, brake them down to the basics and then start building. An old Romanian myth is about an architect called Manole that tried to build a beautiful cathedral. He tried many times but what he was building daytime at night time was crumbling. God told him he had to sacrifice his wife to get the cathedral finished. He did this as God told him sacrificing his love to build a greater thing. This is what we have to to. We have to sacrifice a part of our life, sacrifice some of our pleasures so we can have a brighter future!

And now please let me explain why Copenhagen was not as successfull as it was really needed and to talk futher about a possible solution.

I. COP15 between success and failure

The developments from COP15 summit in Copenhagen gave me the following impressions:

  • officials have tried to cap emisions based on different strategies
    • CO2 / capita and any other per capita calculation method
    • the current development status of countries
  • we have seen that other past treaties are too complicated to follow;
  • countries have different or even colliding interests even when life as we know it is at stake;
  • some officials propose  a carbon tax as a solution at least to climate change but plain taxes are not so easy to agree upon and as long as this tax is not addopted by everyone it’s almost useless;
  • i guess they are concentrating too much on CO2 and they forget about other hazards;
  • developed countries preffer to give money in forms of ( OTM – One Time Money ) policies and fail to see that their money are nothing more than a mere patch to a global disease. Our planet is not about how many billions of dolars we spend up to 2012 for it’s reabilitation. It’s about how we plan for a future, continuous rehabilitation for generations to come.

Where are the week points of all the strategies? In my opinion all the strategies used in developing this treaties/theories are easily, too easlity to counterattack with fairly good arguments. There are too many arguments on each side that make the negotiations a hard process and almost guarantee that countries, in the eventuality of signing a treaty will, maybe, fail to implement it. Other aspect of the Copenhagen negotiations is the fact that now people fear about the CO2 … but aren’t some other pollution problems even more stringent ? We forget about the islands of trash in our oceans ? We forget about the never ending garbage accumulating near our cities ?

About the proposed “caps” I even go as far as thinking about the fairness of such capping / capita when we talk about a countries latitute and longitude and it’s climate. A very good example is the latiude factor. As countries are located further away from ecuator the need for heating energy during the winter is greater.

If we are to judge people having equal rights regarding polution we would find ourselves into a dillema. Aren’t people living in countries with overall cold temperatures more entitled to use more energy for heating than the ecuatorial people that need virtually no heating at all ? Some friend told me tere are people using around 20 tons of pertrol to heat their house each winter. While i find this amount outrageous is someone entitled to pollute because his envoroiment requires it ? We can even start to ask some really existential questons by going this path. We can easily extrapolate this theory to any country’s resources and location. Some countries don’t have enough drinking water yet there are located near oceans or seas … should they be allowed to use more energy and in turn produce more CO2 to to get their necessary water from the ocean ?

As existential questions are not answered for milleniums … i think COP15 will have the same fate unless we change our perspective.

II. A possible solution

II.A. A background on pollution and the way we can translate it to usable and useful numbers

The overall pollution and of course CO2 is generated by the products we use and by the services we need.

  • Products
    • we can easily check the composition of  a product ( the raw materials ) – companies are already doing this due to customer concerns, production charts, methods etc.
    • we can easily know or approximate the energy required to assemble the product and in turn it’s enviroimental impact
    • “product” is a broad spectrum including the utilities like power supply etc, even water if required special polluting treatments to be usable ( even the checks made by laboratories are polluting proceses )
  • Services & Processes
    • we can easily check the energy and waste required to perform a service and translate it into a “pollutant indicator“.

What will be the values used for ? At the begining we can calculate this numbers based on CO2 production then we can extrapolate this to other types of watste making the method more and more efficient.

I will use the term  “pollutant indicator”  ( abbreviation PI ) a number that indicates the level of pollution / CO2 included, generated to produce a product and by it’s beeing.

Each raw material, process, sevice incuded in the production of one product, we will call it a “base component” ( abbreviation BC ).

BC will have indexes of pollution attached to them named BI indexes. The energy and the pollution required to produce X grams of BC ( plastic, paint etc ) in one country is a calculable, measurable thing, nationwide. The same with paint, water etc . Each country has different energy requirements to produce the same amount of plastics, paint, etc depending of it’s main industry players and other factors.

By adding such BI indexes we can calculate the exact PI for each product.  An example would be the common shampoo bootle. The bottle can contain ( X grams plastic, Y grams paint , Z Grams shampoo made from Z Grams water, Z Grams olive oil extract, etc ) . We can add the BI indexes of Z grams of oil etc … and have a resulting PI.

So now we have a number that we assign for each product to correctly quantify it’s production energy needs and it’s impact on the enviroiment.

This number will not include the product disposal energy and pollutioin requirement. We will get back to this later on.

This might not be a perfect representation of the pollution implied by one product but i think is the only one we can easily calculate and won’t make our head spin.

II.B. The “Enviroiment Impact Tax”

So … we basically need to “tax” all products to create a fair economical and enviroimental climate. How would be fair to tax all products in all the world and whom will benefit from this tax ?

This tax would be a country wide tax … or, if one country wishes the tax levels could be breaked down for different regions but the countrywise tax levels would still be the same.

How this tax will be imposed? The tax will be imposed based on PI of each product.

How can you break the tax to different levels in different regions don’t similar product have similar PI ? Right but … if needed, each regions ( let’s say California in US ) would calculate the BC levels based on their local companies and data. Thus regions will have varying BC yet at a country level the amounts will be the same. ( amounts of PI used to produce the products ). There might be a problem here thow. Let’s say we are in a region/country with a very low tax on some product. One could make a company there that pollutes a lot and would benefit from the low tax rate. But the problem is only technical and short tearm. Usually the products have many BC indexes so the PI won’t suffer to much because of this. The tax will be then modified yearly and if such a bad company would strive the effect will be bad for all the companies in the same sector and the goverment will be able to then check why the levels of BC indexes increased and then take the appropriate measures against the said company. So on a long term this will have barely no effect. But the best economcal effect is yet to be seen. Companies will distribute their production plants better in the teritory/world to benefit the low taxes. Once they will make plants in a said place the tax will increase giving other countries less developed the next step.

What will be the BC indexes update schedule ? Because we live in fast developing times, it’s only normal that the BC indexes to be calculated on an early basis to reflect the exact developments in the teritory.

Where the money from the tax will go ? This tax … as it is only practical will replace existent enviroimental tax levels imposed by countries on product by product basis. The surpplus of money collected will go into enviroimental programs, either educational or even other type of big projects and … into the product disposal product disposal programs that i was talking you about earlier. Product disposal requirements are vast and cannot be really calculated based on the production costs. Product disposal is only efficient when it’s done in large quantityes so should be the goverment task to arrange efficient product disposal ways and fund this projects from the Enviroiment Impact Tax.

Who will have to pay the tax ? The end user of the product based on his the consumption amount. ( let’s say will be similar to VAT in certan accounting ways )

How the levels of this tax would be calculated ? This is a far wider topic to discuss it here and i am sure people interested in this topic can further talk about this subject. I only want to point out 2 things:

  1. Adjustments – ajustments can be made depending on industries, deveoping indexes,  and any other factors countries can agree upon.
  2. Reference – because this will be a global tax ( all countries in the world must impose it ), it is only fair to have a reference that all should aknowledge. Because we are talking about “saving the planet” the reference on the calculation of the PI for each product based on the BC components will be the country(s) with the best levels of BC pollution indexes. So … thoose countries would have to pay no tax for the specific BC indicator (  BC index will be 0 ( zero ) where 0 means the best country having the best indicator ) in turn there will be no tax for the products that incorporate mostly BC indexes with 0 levels. Is such a reference fair ? We want to be better and we must have a better country as reference. If for example one country would become better than the aknowledged reference then we can safely say we have a new reference and so on.

How is it possible to have a zero product tax ? Yes will be possible in a country where the BC required to produce a product will be 0 and the services required to product those product will have the same 0 index.

How about the developing countries ? First of all this tax will be collected by goverment for goverment usage. The money will not go to another country. Ok, but this implies that products made in India will be more expensive and harder to export because the country dosen’t have the same technlogy as other developed countries. Yes and this is why we need to make an ajustment to the tax so it can be fair to both developed and developing nations in the same time.

How to make such an ajustment that would be fair to developed and developing countries in the same time. Is is possible ? Will the calculation of the tax be a subject to disputes because of this ? Where the adjustment muse be made ? It is possible to make such adjustments for the benefit of all including our planet’s benefit. We need to adjust the BC indexes not the tax itself. How? Easy. We need to calculate the amount of investment rich countries have already made in their sectors over a perious of let’s say 20 years. This amount of investments in fact amounted for a proportionate sum of pollution already produced before this tax will go into being. The amount of this will be of course in direct link with the industry’s output. Righ countries will have a bigger investment number than developing countries.  In turn we can use this number to inversly adjust the BC indexes. Thus rich countries will have a bigger tax increase than developing countries. As developing countries develop the this number’s will level off.

What will be the interests of developing countries to respect such tax? Developing countries would want to develop cleaner ways to produce their products to minimize the PI of their products. Even if this means the increase of PI due to the compensation factor getting higher for them the most important is not this
compensation factor” ( abbreviation CF ) because it’s controlls only a part of PI. Their main goal will be to reduce the bulk of PI by investing into technology.

What will be the interest of developed countries ? The interest of developed countries well be obvious … they would have likely lower prices on some technlogical products what will alow them to fairly trade with poorer countryes.

What will be the interest of the world ? Everybody will benefit from this tax as people will try to buy less taxed products meaning less impact of our enviroiment.

While this Enviroiment Impact Tax proposal of mine still has many flaws it does solve some big ones.

II.C. Comparison between the Enviroiment Impact Tax and other methods

I will only point our some of my main conclusions and let you discover the rest:

  • Enviroiment Impact Tax is less prone to flaws than any of the proposed methods to fight climate change in Copenhagen summit. There are some points that can be argued but much less “existential” and easier to understand then carbon tax or capping.
  • Enviroiment Impact Tax will reflect more clearly the current situation because it can include as many pollution factors as needed.
  • Enviroiment Impact Tax has answers for both developed and developing countries giving both incentives to be better and to invest in more efficient technologies.
  • Enviroiment Impact Tax will elimnate the war of  “dumping and trading taxes” imposed by some governments. Countries will not need to put additional taxes on the products that enter their teritory because those taxes will be already in place upon the exit of the goods from the original country in a fair and quantifiable manner.

What we have learned from this  summit ? What will be the message for the generations to follow ? I don’t think is too early to say even if maybe the negociations are not completed we need, we really need to know some things. Even if some countries ( leaders ) will want the summit to fail for some reason on another, everybody must continue to protect the environment without looking at their neighbours for support if this support is not available nor welcomed. The world won’t end with the end of Copenhagen summit but we will suffer for sure because of our leaders’s decisions today. No matter the outcome of COP15 and any other summits to follow, we must continue our role in the great order of things. We must heal the planet on a personal level, starging from our home and we must spread the message to our leaders that climate change is not a political issue, is beyond politics and stretches beyond money they are willing to invest up to 2012 or any other year.

I hope the article was not as boring as i imagine it could be for some of you and i hope you’ve found it’s usefulness at least from some points of view. In the same time I strongly hope some of you are in the position to use this information and make our world a better place. In order to guarantee that i urge anyone whom agrees with what i’ve wrote here to send links of this article to freinds, familty and everyone whom he thinks will be interested in this subject.

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2 Responses to “COP15 Copenhagen, it’s legacy and a possible solution”

  1. Allen Taylor Says:
    December 16th, 2009 at 12:59 pm  (Quote)

    Nice writing. You are on my RSS reader now so I can read more from you down the road.

    Allen Taylor

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  2. kezaer Says:
    December 16th, 2009 at 8:21 pm  (Quote)

    I’ve entirely read your article , it’s so wonderful, and i’m totally influenced .i’ll share it to my best friends.

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