The ICM poll shows most people in the UK expect to be hit hard by the consequences of recession in 2009. Again, people at the bottom of the economic ladder are more alarmed � 85% of C2s think they could become unemployed.
45% of respondents said that they expected to spend less on travel. Travel is not going to escape the consequences of the economic crisis caused by irresponsible lending and the purchase by banks of toxic debt.
I met Clive Stockil in 1995 when I was in Zimbabwe for the Tourism, Conservation and Sustainable Development research project which I was leading for ODA/DFID. Clive was, and is, the driving force behind the Save Valley Conservancy in the lowveld. A former commercial hunter Clive was the driving force behind the creation of the Save Valley Conservancy 3,200 km2 it is the largest private game conservancy in the world, formed from the merger of 24 former cattle ranches.
In recent years the conservancy has come under increasing pressure for the resettlement of subsistence farmers on the conservancy with 10,000 being resettled on a quarter of the conservancy. In addition to the loss of habitat there has a dramatic increase in poaching for the pot and of ivory.
Today�s Times carries a report from Save Valley which reveals how serious the impact of the political situation in Zimbabwe has been on tourism and more importantly on conservation. In the last year the Save Valley Conservancy has lost 16 of it s 120 Black rhino and it is losing the battle to maintain the population.
Martin Fletcher in today�s Times reports that �Before the white farm seizures began in 2000, Mr Stockil's Senuko Lodge had an occupancy rate of more than 60 per cent. Today it is almost empty. �We're in a very serious financial crunch,� says Mr Stockil who, in desperation, recently began catering for wealthy hunters of non-endangered species such as elephants. Without that, he says, �we would have had to close�.
Clive Stockil is again thinking radically about the political imperatives of conservation
�As Mr Stockil points out, the actual poachers are mere pawns – he knows of one who has made just enough to buy himself a motorbike. The real money is made by the middle men who spirit the horns across Zimbabwe's borders to South African ports and airports or up to the fast-growing Chinese community in Harare. From there they are shipped to the Far East, some in diplomatic bags. A Vietnamese Embassy receptionist in Pretoria was photographed recently taking delivery of a rhino horn from a dealer.
Mr Stockil wants African states to establish how many horns the end-users in China, Vietnam and North Korea require, to provide that number themselves, and to use the proceeds to protect the world's last black rhinos before they vanish forever. �You would stop poaching, raise money for conservation, increase the rhino population, do away with the illegal trade and provide a legal product that for centuries has been used by cultures that say they need it,� he argues.�
We should not expect the developing world to solve our green house gas emissions problem for us. Take a look at Air Traffic Worldwide – it is clear where the pollution originates.
The priority is to reduce the pollution by flying less and flying more efficiently. The decision to raise Air Passenger Duty will do nothing to encourage the airlines to be more efficient and to be less polluting – the passenger pays the same duty whether they fly more efficiently or not. There is no linkage between pollution and duty and therefore no incentive to reduce pollution.
The priority is to reduce aviation pollution – not to offset. It is our responsibility as polluters to reduce our emissions; we should not be buying permits to pollute at bargain prices from the developing world.
On 1st December the Climate Change Act became law commiting the British government to ensure that the net UK carbon account for the year 2050 is at least 80% lower than the 1990 baseline.
The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has been established under the act to advise government about how to achieve the target, a target which is legally binding.
It is the duty of the Committee on Climate Change to give advice to the government on international aviation. The CCC reports that �By 2050 UK related international aviation CO2 emissions (using the bunker fuels methodology) could, under DfT�s central scenario, account for around 35% of the UK�s GHG emissions cap implied by our preferred global emissions reduction scenario.� The CCC reports that this forecast assumes �that a new production aircraft in 2025 flying in an improved operational environment will be 40-50% more fuel efficient compared to a 2006 new production aircraft flying in a 2006 operational environment. Reducing emissions below forecast would require use of either biofuels or hydrogen.� ( p.305)
The Climate Change Committee concludes that
�Recognising the importance of including international aviation emissions in the UK�s climate mitigation strategy, we propose that the Committee reports annually on UK trends in international aviation emissions (using a range of appropriate methodologies), their climate impact, developments in, and the success of, abatement efforts and appropriate policy levers.� (p.306)
The CCC clearly expects to see reductions in emissions driven by the EU Emission Trading Scheme. The CCC argues that whilst there should be not limits on use of credits bought from within the EU, the use of offset credits should be �tightly controlled� (p.xxi).
The Committee emphasises the responsibility for polluters to reduce their emissions and not to rely on carbon offsets purchased form the developing world.
“The Committee recognises the benefits of carbon markets, which can help achieve emissions reductions at least cost and drive emissions reductions in developing countries. But we believe that it is essential for rich developed countries to achieve significant domestic reductions to drive the development of required low-carbon technologies and to be on the path to meeting the deep domestic emissions cuts that will be required in the longer term.” (p.xxi, emphasis added)
Cheap carbon offsets purchased from the developing world do not meet these policy priorities – although some of them do benefit poor communities.
In the Pre-Budget Announcement this week there was a depressing announcement about Air Passenger Duty. The rates have been increased but it remains a per passenger duty payable by the airline; but passed on to the passenger. There is no duty on empty seats, freight or private jet users. APD is a tax on consumers who can do nothing to increase the efficiency of the planes or the way they are operated. Airlines and airports can do that � but APD creates no incentive for more carbon efficient flying. APD raises revenue and increases the cost of flying – but it does not encourage the airlines to reduce their pollution – the heavy polluters and the more efficient less polluting airlines pass the same duty on to their passengers.
Higher rates of APD will raise revenue for the Treasury, the revenues will not necessarily be used to fund initiatives for adaptation, mitigation or more carbon efficient forms of flight.