Englishwoman creates trouble: why the blame for global warming lies with Britain

MOSCOW, 27 Oct 2021, RUSSTRAT Institute.

On October 31, the 26th UN Climate Conference, postponed for a year due to coronavirus, will open in Glasgow – or, officially speaking, the 26th session of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC COP-26, or COP26).

The event is solid, if not iconic. Following the results of the similar summit in Le Bourget, France (COP21), six years ago, the famous the Paris Agreement was adopted, in which the West defined the global climate agenda for decades to come, declaring global warming a common responsibility of mankind.

The burning truth, however, is that the main blame for this lies with the West itself. More precisely, on the United States as the main generator of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere over the past hundred years. And on Britain, which not only created, but still actively supports the “carbon” model of the world economy.

“Climate deal”: The West washes its hands

The “climate deal” concluded in Paris, which replaced the Kyoto Protocol of 1997, turned out to be a serious victory for the “collective West”. First of all, it replaced the legally significant obligations of the parties to reduce emissions with declarative promises, the interpretation of which depends rather on the favour of the global media than on the actual content. At the same time, Paris 2015 removed from the “rich North” the historical responsibility for centuries of environmental pollution, placing it on the whole world, including young and developing countries.

Thus, the Western centres of power have received an excellent tool for political pressure on any state that, in their opinion, is not actively fighting global warming. Even despite the fact that the decisive influence of anthropogenic factors on climate change has not yet been really proven, no matter what the Nobel laureate Albert Gore claims. It is no coincidence that Russian President Vladimir Putin recently shared his doubts about this.

The current summit in Scotland is positioned as a place for summing up the interim results of the struggle for “carbon neutrality” and the time of the first five-year revision of the so-called “Nationally Determined Contributions” (NDC) to this struggle. And since the results are disappointing: the world still does not want to enter the trajectory of “no more than a 1.5-degree increase in temperature in comparison with the pre-industrial level” (from which about 1.2°C, as it is believed, have already been exhausted), there will be a debriefing and the appointment of the culprits.

A number of accusations at the Glasgow summit will certainly be made against Russia. Like saying that our country is already using fossil fuels to promote its geopolitical interests, and here in addition it has also adopted a plan devoid of ambition to achieve “carbon zero” only by 2060 (which actually coincides with the plan China, for example).

At the end of September, the ambassadors of the EU, Britain and Italy (as co-organisers of COP26) diplomatically outlined the West’s demands to Russia, urging it to shift this deadline to the left by 10 years at once. It is expected that even harsher criticism of our country will be voiced in Glasgow – especially against the background of sky-high gas prices, which the British press directly accuses the Kremlin of.

Britain itself is overflowing with new fabulous plans ahead of the summit. In particular, its Prime Minister Boris Johnson is going to discuss at COP26 the complete mankind’s refusal from the use of coal by 2040, and developed countries – already by 2030. In addition, after 9 years, Britain, according to the assurances of the head of Her Majesty’s cabinet, will completely stop using cars on hydrocarbon fuel.

However, according to the June report the Committee on Climate Change under the British Parliament, the United Kingdom is still very far from the announced plans. Even the lockdowns of the “covid” 2020 did not help, which, as the report notes, “was overshadowed by the delay of many new climate strategies,” and that those that appeared “too often did not hit the target.”

For example, Johnson cannot find the strength to prevent the opening of the first in 30 years coking coal mine in Cumbria, and a couple of months ago he personally pushed Shell contracts for the development of the Kambo oil field 125 km west of the Shetland Islands. And in general, last year the British government was caught distributing tax benefits worth hundreds of billions of pounds to the owners of the oil business in the North Sea for many years.

But after all there are also other reports. They emphasise that the British and, in general, the Western negative impact on the climate did not begin today. It is precisely the developed countries of the West, led by the Anglo-Saxons, that made a fatal contribution to global warming, and now they want to make the rest of the world pay for it.

Historical responsibility: the Anglo-Saxons should keep quiet

The concept of historical responsibility for the current greenhouse effect is based on two statements. The first is that CO₂ emissions into the atmosphere are cumulative, that is, they accumulate over hundreds of years. The exhaust from the first internal combustion engines and the destruction of forests for the sake of clearing land for agriculture in modern times still affect the climate, scientists say. And the second statement: these emissions can be calculated.

Thus, according to the drafters of the so-called “carbon budget“, since 1850, people have released about 2500 billion tons of co₂ into the atmosphere. And now, according to the latest data from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) at the UN, humanity has only 460 billion tons left “in reserve” in order to meet the +1.5°C indicator with a 50% probability.

At the current rate, these billions of tons will be spewed out within 11.5 years, scientists believe. According to other data, the “reserve” is even smaller — 327 billion tons of CO₂ and it is for a little bit more than 7 years. However, specific figures strongly depend on probabilistic models, calculation methods and initial data: a few years ago, the IPCC estimated the “reserve” of humanity at only 268 billion tons of carbon dioxide.

One way or another, all this can be counted — both by year and by country. And here we come to what’s most interesting.

The dynamic graph presented in early October by the British website CarbonBrief clearly shows which countries have “blessed” the planet with the greatest negative “contribution” to carbon emissions as a result of burning fossil fuels, deforestation and land use changes over the past 170 years.

In first place with a significant margin is the United States, which accounted for more than 509 billion tons of CO₂ emissions, or a fifth of the global level. China took second place (284 billion tons), followed by Russia (172 billion tons), Brazil (112 billion tons), Indonesia (102 billion tons), Germany (88 billion tons), India (85 billion tons), Britain (74 billion tons), Japan (68 billion tons) and Canada (65 billion tons).

Already this data give food for thought. First of all, we see that the top 10 most polluting countries include not just world industrial leaders (which is quite natural), but also the main adherents of “green energy”. Including the five states of the “collective West”, which seemed to be ordered by God himself to stop smoking the sky. Whereas, for example, Brazil and Indonesia arrived in the top ten mainly due to deforestation, and not direct atmospheric pollution.

We see, besides this, that China only in 2007 “broke out” into second place in this anti-rating: back in 1963, it occupied a modest 7th place in it. It is also clear from the graph that America took the current Chinese “weight”, 284 billion tons, in 1977, and overcame the Russian “bar” (172 billion tons) even earlier – back in 1942. That is, America should have kept quiet about environmental pollution in “icy Siberia” for at least the last 80 years.

It is also noticeable that the British website for some reason decided to count directly from 1850 the emissions of the United Kingdom separately from India and Canada, which had been under the rule of the British crown for many decades.

The City of London spoils the air

But all this is just a first approach. Climatologists from CarbonBrief do not stop at absolute figures and introduce the concept of “carbon intensity” of the population of certain countries, including previous generations. After all, it is clear that if a handful of residents of one state emit as much Co₂ into the atmosphere as hundreds of millions of citizens of another state, then the former are more to blame for the deterioration of the climate than the latter.

After calculating the total carbon dioxide emissions per capita in 1850-2021 and excluding very dwarf states from the list, scientists compiled the following anti-rating top 20: New Zealand, Canada, Australia, USA, Argentina, Qatar, Gabon, Malaysia, Republic of the Congo, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Kazakhstan, Zambia, Panama, Ivory Coast, Costa Rica, Bolivia, Kuwait, Trinidad and Tobago, UAE.

It is noteworthy that the list is headed by three countries from the British Commonwealth of Nations, which for a long time were part of the British Empire and experienced all the charms of English colonial rule. The analysis also shows that until 1850, three-quarters of all CO₂ emissions in the world were accounted for Britain.

In general, according to the British ecologist Danny Chivers, from 1850 to 2008, there was more CO₂ from fossil fuels per inhabitant of Britain than per inhabitant of any other major country. According to him, every Briton is responsible for 1,164 tons of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere, to which at least 879 Canadian tons and 719 Australian tons should be added.

All this suggests that the enormous wealth that underlies the current well-being of the Anglo-Saxons was accumulated, among other things, due to unprecedented environmental pollution – both in Britain itself and in its colonies. The latter became the real victims of London’s “carbon” industrial capitalism, based first on coal and then on oil.

More importantly, this colonial approach has not gone away, expansion continues. Just when an English company today places its factories somewhere in Bangladesh, then according to current calculation methods, emissions from their production are recorded on the account of Bangladesh. This is fundamentally unfair, especially against the background of the deindustrialisation of England itself, which remains “clean”.

Suffice it to say that according to last year’s report of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), 46% of Britain’s real “carbon footprint” comes from products manufactured abroad to meet British demand, but they are not covered by national reporting. Simply put, the increase in consumption in the United Kingdom not only leads to an increase in emissions from its main trading partners, but also transfers the British blame for global warming to them.

Another example is that two of the five largest oil companies in the world, BP and Shell, are wholly or partly British, while the global nature of their operations in different parts of the globe leaves London away of it.

However, the key contribution of Britain to the processes of global warming is made by its financial institutions. As follows from the May joint report of WWF and Greenpeace, the scale of CO₂ emissions in the world with money from 15 British banks and 10 investment funds in 2019 amounted to 805 million tons, 1.8 times higher than Britain’s own emissions.

And this is without counting such global investors with partially British capital as Blackrock, State Street and Vanguard, for which the two leading environmental organisations in the world have no data. And also without taking into account the significant contribution from the largest British insurance companies on the continent, which accounted for 55% of insurance premiums in the global energy sector in 2018.

In turn, a study carried out by Banktrack from 2019 showed that the four largest British banks: Standard Chartered, HSBC, Barclays and Royal Bank of Scotland – only from January 2017 to September 2019 allocated $26 billion for the construction of coal-fired power plants in other parts of the world with a total capacity of 163 GW, which is 16 times the energy capacity of Britain itself. However, the City of London is not even going to change its priorities: it obviously proceeds from the understanding that the “+1.5°C” strategy is simply unrealisable.

Finally, these same financial institutions of the United Kingdom actually condone the prosperity of private oil and gas (and not only) businesses around the world by accumulating their profits. This business today builds its corporate value chains through a system of offshore companies located mainly in the member countries of the Commonwealth of Nations and in the British Overseas Territories: the Bahamas, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Gibraltar and Cyprus.

Trillions of oil and gas dollars will continue to spin there, multiplying the wealth of London intermediaries led by the royal family, even if tomorrow the Earth turns into a desert.

In fact, Britain still serves as the backbone of the global hydrocarbon economy, and its financial system is still aimed at maximising profits in the “carbon” sector of the global energy sector. This should be remembered when, from the shores of Scotland, the birthplace of Adam Smith and James Watt, in a few days, streams of accusations and threats against Russia which is “polluting the planet” will flow.

Institute for International Political and Economic Strategies – RUSSTRAT

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