Monthly Archives: February 2010

Tobin or not Tobin….

James Tobin in 1981Today’s big news (apart from the fact that we haven’t had a sterling crisis) is the launch of the Robin Hood Tax – aka the Tobin Tax. Having been around for years in the anti-globalisation movement, the idea of a tax on financial transactions was promoted by Gordon Brown and Nicolas Sarkozy amongst others last year as one way of financing transfers to  developing countries for adaptation and mitigation. The Copenhagen Accord includes the proposal to find $100 billion a year. The Robin Hood Tax people say that taxes ranging from 0.5% on transactions in stocks and 0.005% on currency transactions would raise $400 billion a year which would also help end global poverty.

The Tobin tax concept is supported by a wide range of people, for a range of reasons (for example, Paul Krugman seems keenest on its dampening effects on speculation). Leaving aside the issues of how the money is disbursed and spent, I’m pretty well-disposed to it as well, but can’t help thinking that for the purposes of raising finance for adaptation in particular, a straightforward wealth tax might not be better.

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Post-Copenhagen Positives

Writing in Foreign Policy David Roberts of Grist takes what turns out to be a refreshing view of the post-Copenhagen landscape. In particular, he quotes Terry Tamminen of California fame:

“Everyone is waiting for a U.N. deal, but carbon-cutting actions have been going on all along,” says Tamminen. “It’s been right under everyone’s nose. The Copenhagen Accord, having surfaced an existing web of national and subnational policies, may ultimately prompt a needed shift of attention and pressure to what is happening on the ground and what is required to link up and accelerate the many promising efforts already underway.” Continue reading

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Reports of the Accord’s Importance Exaggerated

In our letter published in the FT yesterday (Tuesday 2 February;  see post below) we asked in passing whether the Accord was the start of a new wave of climate talks or a ripple of leaders’ expediancy .

Since Sunday’s deadline, most media reports have leaned towards the former, taking the timely submissions from 56 countries as a signal that most of the big guns and some of the smaller ones support the Accord. However, a closer inspection of the important submissions – in particular those from the BASIC countries – bring to mind the famous words of Mark Twain but in reverse, hence the title of this post above. Continue reading

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Make climate change politics matter, Financial Times, 2 Feb 2010

Our letter is published in the Financial Times in response to Fiona Harvey’s commentary on the role of green groups in Copenhagen. Note: you may need an FT subscription to follow these links

Sir, Fiona Harvey is harsh on green campaigning groups whose members worked hard to raise the issue of climate change up the international agenda (‘Green is the colour of climate discord’, January 29), but she nevertheless has a point about the Copenhagen climate summit. The United Nations negotiations that led up to Copenhagen have always been and still are conducted in a green bubble, even if more than 100 leaders felt the need to attend on this occasion. Continue reading

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Carbon trading in trouble

Posted by Matthew Lockwood

Carbon markets in various places around the world seem to be running into trouble. In the US, the election of Senator Scott Brown in Massachussetts means that the cap-and-trade element of the Boxer-Kerry climate bill is likely to go. Down under in Australia the emissions trading plans of the Rudd government became the focus for the rise of new opposition leader Tony Abbott, who is tying to harness anti-tax sentiment to fight the scheme (already facing stiff resistance from the coal industry and other vested interests). Meanwhile, in the wake of the failure to agree a successor to the Kyoto Potocol in Copenhagen, various London-based banks Continue reading

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