The Spectacle Blog

Europe’s Dead Parrot Sketch

By on 4.2.09 | 11:50AM

Desperately trying to be helpful to the energy rationers on our own shores who seek to import Europe's disastrous energy rationing "cap-and-trade" scheme -- being debated as part of the president's budget as we speak -- Europe and its enablers are striving to convince us that their statist "global warming" debacle is actually a vibrant experiment in market-oriented policymaking.

Today's offering is destined to go down as a classic, appropriately coming to us from (at least some of) the people who brought us Monty Python. First came a report in Reuters that the rationing scheme was at least 40 million tons short of carbon permits in 2008 -- meaning fewer were required than were printed -- the first time the scheme has registered a shortfall. Reuters noted that it is likely that the ETS will once again register a surplus of permits in 2009, raising question marks over its effectiveness.

Given that the the WSJ accurately covered the issue -- "UPDATE: EU '08 Emissions D[ow]n As Recession Takes Hold", noting that carbon emissions from heavy industry and utilities in the EU fell 6% last year as the economic downturn slowed industrial activity in everything from construction to auto manufacturing -- I cautioned colleagues to watch for the usual suspects spinning this straw into golden claims that the "Emissions Trading Scheme" or ETS is finally on track, has found its legs, is working at last etc. You see, they're desperate to say that, as part of selling it on you and instead of the less painful tax, even though for its first three years the highly touted myth of "certainty of emissions" (denoting reduced emissions, and to an amount certain) were in reality emission increases each year...even while economy-wide emissions managed to dip! It's that distorting and subject to gaming, which also explains why Enron invented the scheme in the mid-1990s.

Sure enough, out rushes the New York Times, gasping with a story "E.U. Carbon Trading System Shows Signs of Working". Why, not stone dead...remarkable plumage, and, I think it's just stunned, resting, shagged out after a long squawk, pining for the fjords! It moved, or, was that just you pushing the cage...

As summarized by Climate Wire (and with my emphases added, so you don't miss some of the finest spin around). You can just hear the success amid the wistful speculation!:

The European Union's trading system for reducing carbon emissions is showing signs of working, according to a preliminary analysis released yesterday.

Emissions fell between 4 and 6 percent in 2008 among industries covered by the E.U. system, compared with increases of roughly 1 percent in 2007 and 2006, according to analysts who reviewed the figures.

Most of the decline was attributed to falling industrial and electricity production caused by the economic crisis, but analysts pointed out that the size of 2008's decline showed the system was causing some businesses to be marginally cleaner.

"What we're seeing today is that it is easier to meet the emissions targets in the short term because of lower economic activity in the world, but it doesn't change the fact that carbon markets do work," said Henrik Hasselknippe, head of carbon analysis at Point Carbon.

Spread the entrails another way and you "see" no such thing, that's just puffery. Yes, real markets work but, no, dear friends, this... is an ex-parrot! Now, if it would only expire and go on to meet its maker, as opposed to flying over here.

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