The Kyoto Protocol

On the 16th February 2005 the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, drawn up in Kyoto, Japan in 1997 to implement the United Nations Framework Convention for Climate Change, finally became international law and signatory countries are legally bound to reduce worldwide emissions of six greenhouse gases (collectively) by an average of 5.2% below their 1990 levels by the period 2008-2012.

For the protocol to become law it needed to be ratified by countries accounting for at least 55% of 1990 carbon dioxide emissions. The key to ratification came when Russia, which accounted for 17% of 1990 emissions, signed up to the agreement on 5th November 2004. Ratification of the agreement means Kyoto will receive support from participating countries that emit 61.6% of carbon dioxide emissions.

Member countries have developed their own methods to meet targets. The EU for example was amongst the first to established quotas and a market to buy and sell credits. A similar cap and trade system is being adopted around the world and is the basis of the presently shelved Australian CPRS and the new Waxman-Markey cap and trade bill in the US.

The Kyoto agreement itself is quite flexible and we are particularly concerned about the emergence of Cap and Trade rather than tax systems. In spite of perceived elegance Cap and Trade systems are leading to a huge growth in the lobby industry and companies vie for higher caps. Cap and Trade type systems are ineffective as not all industries are capped whereas carbon taxes can be applied across the board. For a detailed discussion comparing Cap and Trade with Carbon Taxes we suggest a visit to the Carbon Tax Centre web page on Tax vs. Cap-Trade. What is also missing in many operational or proposed Cap and Trade systems is a failure to back offsets generated outside the industries to which the caps apply. Offsets are a tool that should be used to back innovation which is becoming more and more recognised as very important (See Politics - Replacing Kyoto - Making the Right Decisions). Given the flexibility of the agreement there is hope that within the process or that of its replacement, new means of promoting abatement providing opportunity rather than constraint are found.

There is some doubt whether a legal rather than real economic price for carbon dioxide will be enough to cause us to reduce emissions sufficiently to turn the global warming problem around. It will be a difficult task for most of the member countries to meet their Kyoto targets and already nations are falling behind. Spain and Portugal in the EU are well behind as are the Japanese and Canadians who will most likely not reach their 6% target by 2012. As John Howard and his ministers pointed out, without developing nations and the US, which is responsible for 25 per cent of global emissions and the third largest per capita polluter in the world, the treaty will not fix the problem of global warming. We know the treaty will not fix the problem, but our view is that countries should still join as it is the process which is important.

The Kyoto protocol as a treaty will run until 2012 and comes amid a plethora of warnings that climate change is accelerating and we have only a 10-year window in which to turn the problem around. Some such as Meyer Hillman[1] in his recent book push the case for carbon rationing. We cannot see this sort of strategy working without one person or country standing over another with the power of force. Energy is too coupled to the economy and is still 95% sourced from fossil fuels.[2]

There have been increasing calls for technical solutions (See Replacing Kyoto) and geosequestration, the leading contender in terms of dollar spend will not work because there will always be some leakage which in time renders it useless. It is unlikely substitution of base load generation can occur quickly enough to for example nuclear. Anthropogenic sequestration on a massive scale using man made carbonate as we advocate, because it has no legacies for future generations is the most promising solution.

Our Gaia Engineering solution has been holistically conceived and involves sequestration economically driven by producing man made carbonate building materials with as little interruption to the way we live as possible. TecEco and associates believe technological change towards greater sustainability will bring economic benefits not stagnation. Not only must we convert to non fossil fuel energy as quickly as possible but we must embark on anthropogenic sequestration on a massive scale using all the technologies we have including our Gaia Engineering platform. Such an integrated approach must be profitable or it will not happen. Carbon can become an economic resource with a change in the techno-process (the technological base of our economy) on the scale contemplated by TecEco as in the diagram below.

Gaia Engineering

The TecEco Gaia Engineering technology platform combines a number of processes that can turn the problems of global warming, waste and potable water around and there are several permutations in which Gaia Engineering can be delivered including a seawater or brine route as depicted in the sketch above.

TecEco advocate anthropogenic sequestration using Gaia Engineering which is biomimicry on a huge scale. Carbonate has always been the long term sink and building with man made carbonate is no giant leap of faith. We must like animals and plants find uses for carbon to construct our homes, in this way anthropogenic sequestration can modify the carbon cycle with what amounts to industrial photosynthesis as in the diagram below.

Anthropogenic Modification to the Carbon Cycle

[1] Hillman, M. and Fawcett, T. (2004). How We Can Save the Planet, London, Penguin Books.

[2] di Fazio, A. "The Fallacy of Pure Efficiency Gain Measures to Control Future Climate Change." 2008.