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Carbon criminals

I noticed this post on Bishop Hill's blog a few weeks ago:


The post is about the "Environmental Audit Committee" (EAC) holding an inquiry into the issue of "Sustainability in the Home Office" where they took evidence from a Green-leaning academic who wants to assign a carbon cost to crime. Apparently murder has the highest carbon cost (many people might have assumed it would be arson), presumably due to a high number of man-hours associated with dealing with the crime.

Bishop Hill treats this as being a comical activity, which it certainly is, but I think the Environmental Audit Committee is actually supposed to do the sort of thing he is flagging up. He should really be campaigning to shut the committee down.

The starting point for this Environmental Audit Committee idea is that Labour promised to introduce one in their 1997 General Election manifesto. In the "Protecting the environment" section of the 1997 manifesto, this paragraph refers to it:

"The foundation of Labour's environmental approach is that protection of the environment cannot be the sole responsibility of any one department of state. All departments must promote policies to sustain the environment. And Parliament should have an environmental audit committee to ensure high standards across government."

On the EAC website it mentions that the original idea for setting up the EAC came from the Green NGO "Friends of the Earth". The idea behind the EAC is that it assists in the introduction of Greenery into every government department, and that could potentially mean such things as assigning a carbon cost to crime.

I would guess that the main reason FoE wanted this committee to be established was to empower their political allies in the House of Commons. One potentially useful resource to the British Green movement is that there are quite a few strongly Green-leaning MPs, maybe a couple of dozen or so, present in the three main parties. Currently the main parties don't see having a strongly Green-leaning MP within their ranks as being a liability to them, though there may have been a recent exception to this in the case of Tim Yeo. Many of these people are likely to spend most of their careers sitting on the backbenches. But if you create a committee that these people are likely to join (and they will probably be the only ones that join it), it gives you a route for getting a certain amount of Greenery into the House of Commons without having to go through the much more difficult route of getting official Green MPs elected.

Another thing you have to do with the Greenies is to speculate as to where they are going with their ideas, as they tend to do things one step at a time. Most Greenies would I think like to ban AGW scepticism if they could, and a first step in achieving that might be to associate a carbon cost with crime. Once you've established a CO2 component to criminality, you might be able to call AGW sceptics criminals, as they could be seen as inciting others to produce CO2.