What does the Paris Agreement mean for Scotland?

“If we define what we face as a climate emergency we need to treat it as an emergency.”

Kevin Anderson’s ten minute presentation to the Climate Assembly explains what Scotland needs to do and why. Scotland’s fair contribution to the Paris Agreement means decarbonising at least 10%/year (our current target rate is only about 1% and we’re off target).

What would a Scotland decarbonising at 10%/year be like?


Comments (27)

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  1. Foghorn Leghorn says:

    ‘What would a Scotland decarbonising at 10%/year be like?’

    It would be awful. It can’t be done without tyranny.

    1. Mark Bevis says:

      You’re not wrong, but the tyranny imposed by Gaia if we don’t implement degrowth now is going to be far worse.

      1. Foghorn Leghorn says:

        Gaia will take care of itself. We’re not that important as a species; just another dead-end in the evolution of life. Extinction’s inevitable, which makes every free moment precious. Nothing’s more valuable than liberty.

        Amor fati: ‘…long for nothing more fervently than this ultimate eternal confirmation and seal.’

      1. Daniel Raphael says:

        Is a death wish better/more acceptable than straightforward trolling? Neither offers anything of use.

  2. Alistair Taylor says:

    @ Daniel Raphael

    What can you offer us of use then?

    (And i mean that most respectfully and mindfully, as is possible to convey through the keyboard, in short form). I’m leaning with Foghorn on this, today…

    1. What do you find attractive about his misanthropic nihilism Alistair?

      The idea that a relatively recent consumer lifestyle is the only one that human beings are capable of living out in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence of an existential threat isn’t credible.

      The poster raises the spectre of ‘tyranny’ whilst many cultures, globally and historically, have taken steps to alter course and avert disaster.

      In the context of the experience of the global south and on behalf of future generations “Nothing’s more valuable than liberty” is just a supremely privileged and selfish slogan.

      1. John Monro says:

        Thanks, editor, good comment, well expressed.

      2. Foghorn Leghorn says:

        And yet, in the face of this overwhelming scientific evidence, half the world persists in pursuing this consumer lifestyle, while the other half aspires to pursue it.

        Let’s face it, you’re going to have to make the world and his dog change the way it lives, and you’re never going to be able to acquire the power you’d need to do this. All you have is your moral ‘ought’, and that’s toothless.

        The relations of production that constitute our consumer lifestyle will only collapse when their immanent catastrophe overtakes them. Perhaps your existential threat is that immanent catastrophe.

        Revolutions aren’t made; they are thrust upon us. Hasta la victoria siempre! Give consumerism enough rope and it will hang itself.

        1. Half the world? I dont think so.

          And yet 20 companies have contributed to 480bn tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent since 1965.

          The idea that hyper capitalism is ubiquitous inevitable and irreversible is deeply questionable.

          I reject your pessimism and your premise.

          1. Foghorn Leghorn says:

            ‘The idea that hyper capitalism is ubiquitous inevitable and irreversible is deeply questionable.’

            Not if you’re an auld Marxist like me, for whom capitalism exercises a global hegemony and is an inevitable and irreversible stage in the evolution of communist man. Its collapse under the weight of the catastrophes it generates by its own internal dynamics is equally inevitable and irreversible.

            Like I said (after Lenin): give it enough rope and capitalism will hang itself. It’s a bourgeois delusion, the transcendental pretence of Enlightenment thinking, that we can in any way manage our way out of history.

      3. Brian says:

        “It is easier to imagine the end of the world than to imagine the end of capitalism.”

        For some people the thought of deliberately accepting limits to our consumption and lifestyles seems akin to death.

        Living with an awareness and acceptance of the limits of the natural system and the rights/needs of other organisms as a way of life that has been the human norm for 99% of human history and even today is a viable life way for 10s of thousands of indigenous people.

        It’s pathetic that such a lack of imagination and ability to see the bigger picture has brought us collectively so close to the precipice of extinction.

  3. John Monro says:

    Scotland’s record isn’t that good, but New Zealand’s record is much worse – our emissions are more than 20% higher than in 1990. Yes indeed, clean, green New Zealand’s reputation is founded on deeply dug foundations of environmental humbug. We’ve declared an emergency, but Greta’s criticism is deserved, Jacinda Ardern’s reply is more a defensive reaction than anything substantial. Yes, the plans are great, but Jacinda, who said in a speech shortly after gaining Labour’s leadership , that global warming is “her generation’s nuclear free moment” has had three years of leadership to accomplish almost nothing. Strange how long a moment can be in politics. She means well, but the road to hell……… Still, what’s happening in Australia is just appalling.

  4. Daniel Raphael says:

    Marxism is neither a death wish nor is it misanthropy. It is, however, a label that can be used by anyone, for any means–to troll in a conversation, for instance. The level of discourse is being quickly diminished–the predictable result of trollery. I for one won’t be commenting further, where I see this going on.

    1. Foghorn Leghorn says:

      It’s also historical materialism, a methodology used by some historiographers to explain human societies and their development structurally, in terms of the material relations of production, rather than morally, in terms of abstract ideals.

      But if you can’t stand the heat…

  5. Alistair Taylor says:

    “Well”, he said, talking to no-one in parti<lar, "perhaps Private Frazier was right, and we are all "doomed", but i think that we've got to give it our best try and wake the fu<k up".
    'Hmmm", said the psy<hiatrist, <rossing his legs and positioning his notebook and pen, "tell me, do you think you're Jesus?"

    That's just a wee snippet from my, yet to be published, novel/book "The Joys of Frugality" (Yet to be a<tually finished, if the truth be told.)
    I suppose i do have a slight bit of the misanthrope in me, Mike. How <an people be so bloody stupid/greedy/selfish/<ruel? How <an people shoot wolves and <hop down old growth trees? How <an people drop napalm bombs on other people? And so on.
    But, and it's a big butt, we need to be kind and <ompassionate, and strive for that (kindness and <ompassion) forever. (whatever "forever" is).
    Open up to the wonder.
    And so, i am also an optimist. (When so easily one <an be a pessimist).
    And i think what binds Foghorn Leghorn (lol, funny name), Mike Small, and me together is that WE ARE all in this together. This wonderful world/Universe/experien<e, <all it what you will.
    Just reading the "Art of Living" by Thi<h Nhat Hanh. Highly readable.

    Anyways, great, thought provoking, presentation by Kevin Anderson.
    We need to wake up, we need more urgen<y.
    So, let us all lift our game, and up the tempo.

    And perhaps the <olle<tive <on<iousness will Ki<k in. And maybe one day the letter between b and d will ki<k in on the keyboard, and it'll be a mira<le <ure.
    For sure. It's nae easy being a poet, and a writer, Ha….

    And as far as the Jesus question went, he thought, "what a stupid bloody question, how am ah gonna answer this?". And after a wee bit thought, he said, "Well, i suppose that we're all part of Jesus, in a way…"
    "That'll keep them guessing", he thought. " Now, how am ah gonna get oot 'o here? Ah dinnae ken"

    1. Wul says:

      Did you know that you can replace/repair the keyboard on a computer? You don’t have to buy a whole new machine.

  6. Fearghas Mac Coisichear says:

    The challenge that this presentation throws up to us all is that 10% per year reduction in CO2 emissions just isn’t conceivable from within the mindset of our current society, or possibly even any mindset that we can perceive as antecedent to our current society. The masters tools can’t be used to dismantle the masters house.

    Worldwide we have become used to reliance on cheap abundant energy: for about 100 years we have had the luxury of oil, prior to that in Scotland and the UK we had the coal of the industrial revolution – taking us back nearly 250 years. This is long beyond living memory, and all we can picture of before that time is having to go and forage endlessly for firewood, or huddle round a tallow candle, and when it was really cold, lighting it – and when we think of that, we want to run a mile.

    Except, we can’t run a mile. We can only be right here, right now, and perhaps even for the first time as a human race, we have the knowledge to know that the shit is hitting the fan, and the fan is one containing conflict minerals and deep water drilled oil, made in a sweatshop, shipped 100 high in a container and idly ordered on Amazon for a hot day. And the shit is something we like to think of a nasty substance that should just ‘go away’ rather than be used as a valuable nutrient source for agriculture – a practice that we could easily reestablish instead of oil powered, oil derived NPK fertiliser. If only we could break the taboos of capitalism+convenience and put our amazing knowledge and technology to use.

    So its a shock. And its easier to start thinking about endgames and the cessation of humanity (from the perspective of the individual self, whose reference point is its own immanent demise) than it is to think about radical shifts in society.

    Alistair, you ask whether collective consciousness might kick in one day. In our secular society what is called the perennial philosophy often gets short shrift. But so many great sages from such a range of religions over centuries have talked of the experience of unity consciousness, you wonder what we have sorely overlooked in our technologically myopic worldview. We urgently need ways to look inside ourselves and confront this existential problem, ways that are neither new age yoghurt weaving nor high tech blue (pie in the) sky thinking, nor the end is nigh fatalism. And at least enough that our compassion for the future of humanity and other species outweighs the paralysing fear (tyranny) of losing everything we know.

    1. Alistair Taylor says:

      Aye, well said, Fearghas.
      We have to dig deep, within ourselves.
      Personally, I am up for it.
      Throw another peat on the fire, pass the Laphroaig, and slainte.

    2. Foghorn Leghorn says:

      Yes, Fearghas; what the world needs is a spiritual reawakening, a Second Coming. The trope is – oh! – so familiar. Repent! For the End is Nigh.

      But that’s not going to happen. We’re just not constituted that way. As you point out yourself, capitalist relations of production have created a global society of consumers – a society in which ‘an environmentally friendly/frugal lifestyle’ has become, itself, a good to be consumed. An alternative to capitalism has become literally unthinkable.

      But this too shall pass. Such a society is unsustainable; capitalism will collapse into a global catastrophe of its own making. Whether we’ll survive that catastrophe as a life form, or terminate as just another of life’s dead-ends, will be a matter of biology.

      And the lesson is: ‘Don’t panic! It’s all just the invisible hand of evolution in action.’ Meanwhile… amor fati! – let ‘Do what thou wilt!’ be the whole of the Law.

      And therein lies an alternative trope for you.

  7. Fiona McOwan says:

    Kevin you are spot on but where are the levers going to come from to make this happen? The Scottish Green Party is onside with the 1.5% target and route map, but how to get people (including me) out of my petrol driven car living in a village with an hourly bus service, but not early morning or evening, or school bus time in the middle of the afternoon. Our so called public transport, bus and train, isn’t really public, it’s privately owned and has to make a profit for shareholders.

    1. Foghorn Leghorn says:

      ‘[W]here are the levers going to come from to make this happen?’

      Ah, the central question of tyranny.

    2. Alistair Taylor says:

      How many <ars does does a village really need, Fiona??

    3. Foghorn Leghorn says:

      No, Fiona. Your car is private transport; it’s for your exclusive use. The train and bus are public transport services because they’re not for anyone’s exclusive use.

      I live in the sticks, about an hour’s walk from the local village. I’ve brought up three children here. I don’t have a car – haven’t needed one since 2002 – but I do now have a bus pass. While the internet brings the world to my laptop, an hourly bus service connects the village to a transport hub in the nearest town, whence (with a little planning) I can access the world by public transport (and anywhere in Scotland at no cost whatsoever to myself). A car would certainly be handy, but keeping one would also be an unnecessary expense of my labour, for which I have better uses. So, life can be done without private transport, providing take your time and don’t mind having to rub shoulders and chew the fat with other public transport users.

      BTW: Scotrail is owned by Nederlandse Spoorwegen, the publically-owned Dutch Railways, which isn’t required to make a profit for any shareholders.

      1. Fearghas Mac Coisichear says:

        Foghorn Leghorn, I have been thinking again about your point about tyranny and I think you’ve hit the nail on the head in many ways. If we took draconian measures to meet those targets in line with how Westminster has treated climate action up till now – i.e. laying the blame at the feet of the individual – it would be tyranny. If for example a carbon market was introduced and each person was allocated a carbon budget, doubtless the rich would just buy up the shares of the poor and carry on with their cushty lifestyles.

        We have seen this to some degree with Coronavirus: if you have a car, a private garden, a private island, you are much less affected by the lockdown. Meanwhile the resources that help keep the masses healthy (libraries, community centres, sports facilities) have remained disproportionately closed. Thanks to neoliberalism, we already have tyranny. By keeping the focus on individual responsibility, attention is diverted from the fact that the vast bulk of emissions come from sectors outside individual control: energy generation, industry, home heating infrastucture, transport infrastructure etc. And the vast bulk of the wealth that controls all of that is owned in shares by a tiny percentage – the super rich. By the pretence that a tiny number being able to spend tens of thousands of pounds on private electric cars is meaningfully addressing climate change, we are being taken for a ride.

        The only way that I can see rapid decarbonisation working as effectively as we need it to, to avoid a very grim future, is by rapid redistribution of resources. And that would only be a tyranny on the super rich. For example: seize/tax land that is being sat on and not maximised for carbon reduction (shooting estates, crown estate land), renationalise industries that are not adapting quick enough or are disproportionately siphoning off profit (oil refineries etc). But how that is acheived is another question! Revolution anyone?

        (For ref, see this excellent article on Open Democracy https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/opendemocracyuk/stop-blaming-ordinary-people-for-the-uks-pandemic-failures/)

        1. Foghorn Leghorn says:

          Yes, I think you’re on to something, Fearghas: just like the coronavirus pandemic, climate change is a public phenomenon rather than a private one, which requires a concerted democratic/communal response rather than haphazard personal responses. However, imposing measures on the general populace is hardly a democratic/communal response.

          Maybe it’s not the simple ideological choice we’re presented with between tyranny and liberty; maybe there’s a third option that could emerge from our current crises. A kind of sublation of the two, if you will. Communism.

          Žižek again!

    4. Wul says:

      Spot on Fiona.

      Public transport is simply not a priority and so it is always a “that’ll do them” level of service. Better for our GDP to have the villagers burning oil to get to their jobs early in the morning.

      Of course hardy stoics, like Mr Leghorn here, would simply leave the house the evening before their shift, sleep in an underpass in town and stroll into their work refreshed at 7am. It just takes some planning.

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