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James

UK carbon footprint shows big increase

From "ENDS report bulletin",

http://www.endsreport.com/index.cfm?action=bulletin.article&articleID=18112

The UK has only managed to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by exporting them to other countries, according to research by Dieter Helm, a government advisor and professor at Oxford University. Including emissions from imported goods and international transport, its emissions have risen by a fifth since 1990.

Professor Helm argues that important sources such as international transport and tourism are omitted from the UK emissions inventory. If they were included, emissions would have fallen by just 11.9% since 1990, rather than by 15.3% as official figures claim.

But he thinks that even this figure underestimates UK emissions. Adding the emissions “embedded” in imported products would mean emissions have actually risen by 19%.

Like many other commentators, Professor Helm attributes the fall in official emission figures to the ‘dash for gas’ by electricity generators in the 1990s, and deindustrialisation, as the UK moved to a service economy.

He accepts that the emissions cuts from the shift to gas-powered generation are real, but questions the falls attributed to the closure of UK factories, arguing that many of these emissions have simply been displaced to other countries.

Professor Helm calculated how much carbon was embedded in products imported into the UK by multiplying the monetary value of imports by the carbon intensity of the originating country’s economy measured in tonnes of CO2e per million dollars of GDP.

He then subtracted the carbon embedded in UK exports from the overall import footprint to calculate that the UK’s “trade deficit in greenhouse gases” was 341MtCO2e in 2006 – equivalent to around half of the UK’s measured direct emissions.

The findings suggests that the UK is responsible for a significant chunk of the growth in emissions in trading partners such as China and India since 1990, with implications for the allocation of greenhouse gas reduction goals in a post-2012 international climate agreement. It strengthens the case for developed countries to take on a greater share of the burden to cut global emissions.
OP

This is very interesting, the concept that we are creating emissions in other countries that are supplying us. I have always felt that if we only focus on things like energy efficient lightbulbs and re-using Tesco shopping bags we were probably missing the point. There was an interesting article in the Guardian yesterday ("carbon myths") which had a lot of surprising statements, including a suggestion that buying a tin of beans from Canada caused less carbon emissions than a kilo of beef from a local farmer. Since they also had a go at the Toyota Prius, which I have always thought was an environmental con, perhaps the rest of the article was also correct.

It's all very confusing, but as is often the case, there are probably a few small things that could make a massive difference, and, I suspect, a large number of politically correct things that will have an insignificant impact, yet will serve to divert us from the things that matter.
gil

orangepippin wrote:
It's all very confusing, but as is often the case, there are probably a few small things that could make a massive difference.


What are these likely to be ?
Where to find the info ?
OP

The Guardian article suggested that meat products are a major source of carbon - hence having a dinner of beans from Canada is better than having a steak from the local farmer. (It did also say that eating beans from your local farmer was better still, but the point was that food miles are not as significant as we all thought).

It also suggests that cancelling your cheap holiday flight is very effective at saving carbon, I guess that is becoming common knowledge.

Another good point was that it is better to insulate your home rather than waste money on wind turbines and solar heating ... on the basis that keeping energy in is more effective than trying to generate more of it.

However I think the original post is also significant - getting the Chinese to manufacture things instead of doing it ourselves is just transferring the problem from us to them. Perhaps we need to consume less.
Blue Peter

orangepippin wrote:
Perhaps we need to consume less.



Ding! Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a winner!




Peter.
Treacodactyl

orangepippin wrote:
Perhaps we need to consume less.


Surely that's obvious to most, even if some people have to sit down and think a while. The idea of exporting our carbon needs, poor wages and conditions overseas has always seemed rather selfish to me.
OP

I think you will find that the countries you are feeling sorry for will have the last laugh.

Consuming less is unlikely to be the answer either, although it is clearly a factor. One man's consumption is another man's living, and economic growth - not retrenchment - is likely to be the best way of raising the standard of living of millions of people less fortunate than us.
Treacodactyl

orangepippin wrote:
I think you will find that the countries you are feeling sorry for will have the last laugh.


Some places like China are already starting to turn the tables so I expect some sort of reversal in fortunes will happen in my lifetime.

I don't agree that consuming less isn't the answer, after all the Earth has a finite amount of resources. I doubt much will change until people have not other choice though, but we can massage the facts to make ourselves feel better.
hamster

Treacodactyl wrote:
Surely that's obvious to most, even if some people have to sit down and think a while. The idea of exporting our carbon needs, poor wages and conditions overseas has always seemed rather selfish to me.


And to me too. I really hate it when people try and shift the blame for climate change elsewhere. 'It isn't us, it's those pesky cows that keep farting or those pesky Chinese people wanting electricity and eating cheese!' As if the cows cram themselves into barns and feed themselves on grain, or as if developing countries aren't developing according to a Western model that has been advertised as glamorous by big multi-nationals. Okay, that is over-simplifying tremendously, but the hypocrisy of demanding a certain lifestyle while denying it to other people because of the strain this places on resources never ceases to amaze me.


Edited to add quote to make post clearer.
OP

I don't think anyone here is trying to shift the blame for climate change.

If we in the UK suddenly cut our consumption (because we are such hypocrites), do you think that will improve the standard of living of people in developing nations? Might it not reduce it ...?

Do you think China's emissions are all caused by Chinese factories producing goods to sell to the UK ... or could it possibly be to sell to their own population, which is actually rather larger than ours?
Treacodactyl

orangepippin wrote:
I don't think anyone here is trying to shift the blame for climate change.

If we in the UK suddenly cut our consumption (because we are such hypocrites), do you think that will improve the standard of living of people in developing nations? Might it not reduce it ...?

Do you think China's emissions are all caused by Chinese factories producing goods to sell to the UK ... or could it possibly be to sell to their own population, which is actually rather larger than ours?


I think if the 'West' led a more sustainable life and pushed that lifestyle rather than the more fashionable mass-consumption that's currently pushed then many people in the developing nations might have slightly different goals.

I gather a large amount of previous emissions was to produce goods for the west but as their countries industrialise then more and more is being spent on their own population. Does this mean we don't need to bother with our impact on the planet because we're just a tiny country?
hamster

orangepippin wrote:
I don't think anyone here is trying to shift the blame for climate change.

If we in the UK suddenly cut our consumption (because we are such hypocrites), do you think that will improve the standard of living of people in developing nations? Might it not reduce it ...?

Do you think China's emissions are all caused by Chinese factories producing goods to sell to the UK ... or could it possibly be to sell to their own population, which is actually rather larger than ours?


But it isn't just the UK - it's the US, Canada, Europe, Australia, NZ, whose combined population is actually pretty large and also whose per capita emissions are (currently) still significantly higher than China's and India's.

I don't doubt that as China and other countries develop and industrialise, demand for consumer goods is rising and will continue to rise, along with carbon emissions and other harmful effects of increased consumption, and this does need to be tackled.

What I object to is people using this as an argument to ignore their own contribution and refuse to do anything about it.
OP

Well the great and the good are in Bali (and I bet they didn't cycle there) to sort it all out. Let's hope they do.

Whilst I think it is right that we should all do what we can, in the kind of society we have in the UK, it is, realistically, only governments that can actually make a major difference, not individuals. And whilst that may sound like "blaming the government", let's not forget that is what they are elected to do, and paid to do.
tahir

Although there's a large element of truth in your post I'd say that just letting the govt get on with it is a hugely dangerous (and irresponsible) position. We as individuals need to do much better, if nothing else it sends a message to govt that this really is what we want.
Treacodactyl

orangepippin wrote:
Whilst I think it is right that we should all do what we can, in the kind of society we have in the UK, it is, realistically, only governments that can actually make a major difference, not individuals. And whilst that may sound like "blaming the government", let's not forget that is what they are elected to do, and paid to do.


Call me old fashioned but I thought the government were there to do what the majority want. So, if the majority of people don't really care, i.e. they say they care but carry on as normal or do very little, then the government will do the same.
Nick

You're old fashioned. The Government is there to protect the country's citizens. Even if they don't like what they do to do it. This is not the same as doing what the majority want.
OP

Just heard on C4 News that the European governments (which I think includes ours) wanted big reductions for developed countries but the US didn't ... and we backed down.

So is that our fault as individuals, or the government's fault?

It might give you a nice warm feeling that you are "doing your bit", but switching to energy efficient light bulbs is not going to save the planet. Holding our own government to account, and that means penalising failure, just might.
Nick

Can't be done, realistically. Who are we going to vote in to sort it out? Sad
Green Man

I hardly know anybody in the U.K. that lives more frugally or sustainably today compared to ten or twenty years ago. Of course our carbon footprints are going to be much bigger. Sad Where is the surprise? It seems that some of as are dumb enough to think just because our factories are closed and their chimneys are no longer reeking smoke that somehow we are a cleaner nation. We are a filthy nation, that has done b^gger all to clean up our act. Embarassed Crying or Very sad
boisdevie1

Cho-ku-ri wrote:
We are a filthy nation, that has done b^gger all to clean up our act. Embarassed Crying or Very sad



Yep, we're just exporting our pollution to China. There they pollute the planet on our behalf to make stuff for us.
AnneandMike

And dare I mention that we should breed less.

I reckon the planet could support whatever lifestyles we wanted if there was only 1 billion of us.
OP

boisdevie1 wrote:
Yep, we're just exporting our pollution to China. There they pollute the planet on our behalf to make stuff for us.

It's a nice thought that all the pollution caused by the developing world is the fault of the developed world ... but naive. Many of these places have stronger economies than we do, and will very soon have a higher standard of living.
Treacodactyl

orangepippin wrote:
It's a nice thought that all the pollution caused by the developing world is the fault of the developed world ... but naive. Many of these places have stronger economies than we do, and will very soon have a higher standard of living.


That's not what's been said. I think everyone would agree that a countries carbon footprint should include everything the country consumes so if it imports products from abroad then it's responsible for the entire carbon footprint of that product.
OP

Not exactly. If China did not make the products, we could not buy them. So you can't allocate China's carbon footprint to the UK ... although I accept there is an element of ex-UK manufacturing now taking place in China. Also, I believe an increasing proportion of China's output is taken up by its own growing middle-class consumers, and by sales to other developing nations.

As I said, I don't think you can blame the developed world for the developing world's carbon emissions.
Andy B

AnneandMike wrote:
And dare I mention that we should breed less.

I reckon the planet could support whatever lifestyles we wanted if there was only 1 billion of us.


I wouldnt worry about the planet, its been through much worse. Its us who are stuffed and if we are to stupid to do anything about it then we deserve everything we get. Which will be a lot less people and economies closer to what we had in the middle ages.
Green Man

Andy B wrote:


I wouldnt worry about the planet, its been through much worse. Its us who are stuffed and if we are to stupid to do anything about it then we deserve everything we get. Which will be a lot less people and economies closer to what we had in the middle ages.


I agree. One big ice age and we would be looking at a whole different world. I'm not worried about the planet, just my descendant’s sustainability.
Helen_A

About 2 months ago we instigated a policy of 'no products from xxx'

xxx being countries a long way away, when the product in question could and should be being made here, or near here (i.e. Europe, and preferably the bits nearest)

Its been an interesting experiment so far - although I think that my children are close to mutiny as they have discovered that most of the toys that they covet are made in china, or that part of the world.

I'm struggling a little, as finding EU grown stock for the company is, um, interesting. I *think* that I've pinned down some hemp grown in europe, but awaiting samples to see if its up to doing the job is nerve wracking! I'm feeling totally hypocritical about some goods that I've stocked for years that are made/grown in India. Except that in those cases these are organically grown products that are then manufactured in places with largely solar power... argh!!! lots to think on and total brain freeze. And then DP goes and gets a job with Apple..... Surprised Confused

wibble.... Its simply impossible to be absolute about anything. But it has in the last couple of months substantially cut the amount of stuff coming into the house.

What I have been interested to find is the sheer number of books that are being routinely printed in the far east. A lot of the 'green' press being just as guilty of this as the 'standard' books are. Its nigh on impossible to find childrens books that are printed here. And there are a lot of publishing houses out there covering their books with FSC and other sustainability and environmental claims, whilst also acknowledging that they are using the local laws, not EU/Ours as the basis for those claims...

I have found the kitchen stuff I want to get though - and a 'not from outside EU and preferable UK made' policy has made finding things a *lot* easier. Mainly cos the choice has dropped from xxx to 4/5 companies. Although where their raw materials come from who knows... and it is all more expensive than it would be. (but then again that means buying less becomes easier as well).

Now I just need a decent spark to do the kitchen, preferably one we can afford before the saving account is sequestered by DP for 'technology' purchases....

Helen_A
Green Man

Congratulations Helen for trying to do this. It can't be easy.
OP

In terms of carbon footprint, why should a book printed in China be any worse than a book printed here ... bearing in mind that English-language books can be sold anywhere in the world?
Green Man

Because the original script could be posted/emailed anywhere in the world and the books produced locally, from local trees. Shipping tonnes of books (timber) may make financial sense, but not environmental sense.
Until Helen mentioned books I had never thought of them being imported. It’s just as crazy as food or cars I suppose.
Andy B

Cho-ku-ri wrote:
Because the original script could be posted/emailed anywhere in the world and the books produced locally, from local trees. Shipping tonnes of books (timber) may make financial sense, but not environmental sense.
Until Helen mentioned books I had never thought of them being imported. It’s just as crazy as food or cars I suppose.


The latest cheap place to print books is eastern europe, send them a computer disk, two weeks later your books get delivered and even including shipping you can halve the price of UK printers. The up side is that they will print smaller numbers so less wasted/remainderd books. Print runs can be done to match orders.
Green Man

Europe is not too bad compared to they Far East, but the only reason they will be cheaper than Britain is their overheads and Labour must be much cheaper. This will be addressed when out unhealthy balance of payments ultimately weakens our pound.
If G.B. hadn’t habitually dipped into our gold reserves for the last ten years, then this would have happened sooner rather than later, and we would not be importing quite so much.
wishus

I suspect many of the things discussed on this thread will lead to things getting worse before they get better.

I work for a company that produces shower enclosures. When I started, the metal was sourced from the UK and the glass from France. However, the price of aluminium rocketed, and the fashion for silver-finished (anodised) goods as opposed to white (powder-coated) ones means that the metal is now sourced from Turkey and Greece, where the legislation for anodising metal is a little less tight than it is for the EU. That's for the stuff we still make in the UK. 60% of what we sell is now made in China.

We are market leaders, but that is by the by. If we didn't produce in China, the market would only be swamped by Chinese products from buyers seizing the opportunity elsewhere. We wouldn't survive without Chinese products.

Also, we are fortunate that some products are still cheaper to manufacture in the UK - otherwise that would be all our manufacturing jobs gone and we would just be an import company. I'm sure that has happened elsewhere.

Our partner company in China is one of many that cannot sell products within the Chinese territory. Name any product, and the likelihood is that the Chinese have several manufacturers soaking up any and all potential sales for that market (except low energy lightbulbs, apparently!). Also, you will probably have heard about the artifical adjustments made to make Chinese prices even more attractive? Well, did you also know that the Chinese government has set up special tax incentives for companies that are export only? However, this does not stop a company director setting up a separate company to produce the same thing to sell to the Chinese market once he has made enough from export, as our partner company director intends to do.

The manufacturing boom in China has so many edges it looks like a Swiss Army knife, never mind a sword. Yes, the slick, smart buildings are helping to provide a great number of new career and educational opportunities to people who might never have dreamed of a different kind of life for themselves, and many supplier contract agreements for the large retailers in the UK mean that overseas suppliers must comply with workers rights and anti-child labour policies. When our directors were scouting for a supplier-partner, they saw hammocks strung up between machines for the workers to sleep on. Happily, that kind of employer-employee relations didn't fit the criteria, so we looked elsewhere.
However, the attractions of the new manufacturing cities are drawing people away from rural life, splitting up families and depleting the agricultural worker resource.

Buying from China looks great on paper, but is fraught with problems... not so much quality these days, but, for example, if you want to find out about deliveries, our suppliers do not want to say 'no' or give us a bad answer, so they just ignore or deflect the questions. According to Executive Planet, this is a cultural thing, but try telling the customers that! Also, sending products without boxes, or with a different handle... after waiting 8 weeks for a shipment this can be a bit frustrating. But it's cheaper...

... then does the cost saving get passed to the consumer? Yes, sometimes. Not always. Primark is cheap, but Clarks shoes from Indonesia don't seem that cheap to me now they're not made in the UK. When it comes to your trip to the DIY shop, you may see some low promo prices, but retailers will still sell at 'perception' value where they can.

.... and you might be pleased to know that those containers are not going back empty to China. No! because they are going back with our rubbish. Our PET plastics of 5 and up. Where they will be 'recycled'. A good reciprocal arrangement - not.

Effectively, consumer Britain has turned us all into a bunch of NIMBYs, flytipping over the hedge into China's garden.

That is why I applaud you, Helen. It's certainly tricky to avoid cheap Chinese products, especially when money is tight. This is why we need more EU arrangements to kick in, and a bit better than they did with bra wars. And sod the 'reciprocal arrangements' arguments that politicians blether on about.
OP

wishus wrote:
Effectively, consumer Britain has turned us all into a bunch of NIMBYs, flytipping over the hedge into China's garden.

But as your very interesting text points out, this only happens because here in the UK we have different legislation to the rest of Europe and even more different from China. If all countries had the same standards for products, workers rights, and waste disposal there would be less reason to transfer carbon emissions to China. At the moment it is simply more efficient to manufacture in China and dump the rubbish back there - but only because their government encourages production there and our government discourages production here.

I really don't think you can simply blame the poor UK consumer for all of this.
wishus

No, I don't because the UK consumer isn't going to know all this generally. I'm in a privileged position to be able to view things this way, but I don't think any of these issues would occur to my bosses either, and it's not because they are stupid or uncaring as people.

As consumers, the power of the pound is in our pockets, but as Helen pointed out, if you are aware and try to spend selectively, it's pretty tricky. I think most people would rather not have to think about it too much.

So, it's nice that there are things like Fair Trade for farmers, and supplier compliance criteria from the major DIY retailers, because that helps consumers make better choices and in turn, helps importers and manufacturers make better choices too.

I went to see Bill Bailey a couple of weeks ago, and he has a chant that he gets the audience to join in with - "Hey Asda, I ain't gonna be your bitch!" Asda offered him a substantial sum of money to prat about in an Asda store for a commercial, but he thought about the $1 a day workers who make the clothes and not only told them to stuff it, but thought he'd start an awareness campaign about it. but guess what - as good as it felt to join in with the chanting, I've found myself shopping in Asda since. Why? Well, excuses, excuses, but I've been working some horrendous hours lately and Asda has been the only place open to get my groceries.

Now, you could argue this has as much to do with UK working hours, but maybe, maybe not. However, even if you can get to the shops in the day, why should the consumer have to do hours of research before being able to shop with an ethically clear conscience? Some retailers are better at self-policing than others. If we could legislate for workers rights protection on imports into the EU, then overseas manufacturers would have to comply or lose the market.
Helen_A

Feeling a bit Embarassed now.... shucks... Embarassed


But seriously - am I alone in this? Although the DD1 has seen the light (yay! although she is fierce when she gets her teeth into something!) Is this something that I'm going to be able to come here and moan about in the new year when all around me are calling me potty...

... I feel a new blog coming on Embarassed

I've had a couple of interesting conversations with people over the last few days - it seems like it hasn't really occured to anyone that books might be an imported item! I think I may have upset a potential publisher as well, as I enquired where they would be printing the book if I went with them... oops I may have to self publish now after all...

Very jealous about peeps getting to see Bill Bailey live! DP gets to do all that sort of stuff with him already being in London each day, and my complete and utter lack of childcare (rofl, not that that last bit actually bothers me much Razz )

Helen_A
OP

wishus wrote:
Now, you could argue this has as much to do with UK working hours, but maybe, maybe not.

Exactly. Until we can enforce our working hours / quality standards / and all our other trading bureaucracy on the Chinese, I'm afraid it will be far more efficient for everything to be made there. That is not a case of exporting our carbon emissions, more an un-intended consequence of regulation making the UK a less-competitive place to manufacture from.
wishus

Erm... I meant my working hours meant I couldn't find time to shop more ethically. It's the culture of presenteeism, don't you know...

You're right about the Chinese working some long hours though! And our guys have to work those hours too when they go over. Generally they only go over for a couple of weeks at a time about six times a year, but I don't think they'd like working until 8pm all the time. Still, our partners are fully compliant with our customers' (a pretty big DIY retailer) ethical supply policy. It's pinned up on our cantine noticeboard so we're all aware of that. That's self-policing in action for workers' rights, though not necessarily for the environment.

By 'efficient', I suppose you mean cheap? It doesn't look terribly efficient for us at the customer-facing end, with loads of technical questions we have to wait for China to answer, six to eight weeks shipping and hoping the order arrives as it should. It's not exactly convenient for either the importer or the customer, and there are so many more risks to consider that many customers insist on UK supply only.

And when it comes to trading bureaucracy, we do impose restrictions on the Chinese. We have maximum import quotas - remember bra wars and shoe wars a year or so ago when companies tried to import beyond the maximum allowance and the EU said no? EU trade ministers are not going to allow their respective countries to completely slit their own throats, because we believe in free trade and we do need those reciprocal trade arrangements for exporting back our junk electronics, fridges, and plastic waste, and god knows what else. Not just China, but India too. Did you see the reports on Channel 4 news earlier this year? Poor people cooking the copper and other materials out of junk electronic circuit boards, breathing in god knows what fumes... and then the copper gets sold back. It's a never-ending cycle.
OP

wishus wrote:
It's a never-ending cycle.

Quite, and one which IMHO is down to governments to sort out, not private individuals.
wishus

orangepippin wrote:
wishus wrote:
It's a never-ending cycle.

Quite, and one which IMHO is down to governments to sort out, not private individuals.


Yep. That's what I said. Or what I meant anyway.
Andy B

You will find that instead of raising there working rights they will just lower ours, after all profit is everything. Look at how Sunday working in retail is now treated in the UK, it used to be voluntary overtime, its now just part of your standard working week with no choice.
wishus

I don't disagree. I've got an office job, but I have found myself working evenings and weekends trying not to make a fuss or ask for overtime unless they really have been ripping the piss. My sister worked for years in a well known clothes shop. The pressures on her were enormous and they didn't care that she had a kid. I'm not religious, but I support Keep Sunday Special. By working long hours, it becomes convenient for me to have the shops open at other times, but that just encourages shops to be open on those days, and in turn, for employers not to worry about when they are keeping you at your desk until. And then some other sod's family time gets eaten into and so on and so forth.

Right. So, in order to protect UK and overseas workers at once, we need:

1. EU import quotas on all goods, say, by Intrastat classification nomenclature, which is universal (I would say less open to argument, but that fuss M&S have had recently about whether teacakes are biscuits or cakes might suggest otherwise).
2. Basic legislation for larger retailers to enforce supplier conformance criteria, not just self-policing.
3. Carrot approaches for employers in the UK to stick to EU working hours directives (what could they be? Not sure. People should be paid overtime if they've earned it).
4. Keep Sunday special - for some their day of rest will be another day, but the majority of school and work systems are based around the Monday to Friday working week, so let's stick to that.

Not sure I've got many solutions there, but everything rolls top-down. What does anyone else think?
Mrs Fiddlesticks

as far as I can see what has happened is that developing countries are following our model of economic growth, having their own Industrial revolution as it were and copying our pattern of pollution and exploitation etc ( compare and contrast it with working conditions in the C19th factories and mills) Unfortunately there is no other model to copy right now.

There was a paper I read amongst my OU stuff on that sort of thing (but I'm not going up to the loft to get it) and it was hoping that countries like India could find some new model of growth that was environmentally sensitive from the off. Bringing in practices that had built in savings for energy or better working conditions. It is possible to do but remains to be seen whether it'll actually happen. There is a chance that they can learn from what the west got wrong.

The other thought is that economic growth and profit have been the absolute model of a country for so long that there doesn't appear to be any other measure of success. I've no idea how we can get away from a money driven world but there must be a way in which life contentment, and 'sufficient means' health and other indicators become more dominant. That is highly idealistic of course and a pig has just been cleared for take off from my garden.
Mrs Fiddlesticks

wishus wrote:
I don't disagree. I've got an office job, but I have found myself working evenings and weekends trying not to make a fuss or ask for overtime unless they really have been ripping the piss. My sister worked for years in a well known clothes shop. The pressures on her were enormous and they didn't care that she had a kid. I'm not religious, but I support Keep Sunday Special. By working long hours, it becomes convenient for me to have the shops open at other times, but that just encourages shops to be open on those days, and in turn, for employers not to worry about when they are keeping you at your desk until. And then some other sod's family time gets eaten into and so on and so forth.

Right. So, in order to protect UK and overseas workers at once, we need:

1. EU import quotas on all goods, say, by Intrastat classification nomenclature, which is universal (I would say less open to argument, but that fuss M&S have had recently about whether teacakes are biscuits or cakes might suggest otherwise).
2. Basic legislation for larger retailers to enforce supplier conformance criteria, not just self-policing.
3. Carrot approaches for employers in the UK to stick to EU working hours directives (what could they be? Not sure. People should be paid overtime if they've earned it).
4. Keep Sunday special - for some their day of rest will be another day, but the majority of school and work systems are based around the Monday to Friday working week, so let's stick to that.

Not sure I've got many solutions there, but everything rolls top-down. What does anyone else think?


whilst I don't disagree with your ideas and I agree with the Keep Sunday special idea very much I think that would only work if there is some global agreement about this sort of thing. If we start trying to protect our 'rights' as it were ( which is quite right and proper) then the bean counters will just move business to another country where they care less, meaning that due to competition being everything economic growth would be affected etc etc - see my point about it being at the moment the be all and end all of a country's measure. Why else does the media get so worked up about M&S's trading figures. Rolling Eyes Its all we're worth.

The goverment is very very bothered about economic prosperity so as far as I can see it is less about the individual and less about the government and policies that benefit the individual, but more about how government is so keen to keep on the right side of industry and commerce. The power of this country in all things including environmental policy I think lies with the big companies. Get them to do something!
thos

wishus wrote:

4. Keep Sunday special - for some their day of rest will be another day, but the majority of school and work systems are based around the Monday to Friday working week, so let's stick to that.


I agree with most of your points, but not Sunday.

Over here there are very few shops that open on Sunday morning; they are small and have to close on Monday morning. Most shops shut at 5:30 during the week, although supermarkets stay open to 6:30 and some even to 8:00. Many shops also close for lunch. Chemists also close on Saturday afternoons.

Everybody has to do their shopping on Saturdays, so the shops are packed on Saturday. The economic cost of this is shown in that 23% of Belgians take one or two days of skiving sickie a year, against the European average of 6% (reported on the TV news last night).
Mrs Fiddlesticks

thos wrote:


Everybody has to do their shopping on Saturdays, so the shops are packed on Saturday. The economic cost of this is shown in that 23% of Belgians take one or two days of skiving sickie a year, against the European average of 6% (reported on the TV news last night).


is that cause and effect though. Are they taking time off to do shopping? And I wonder what our sickie rate is over here (not withstanding the companies that give their staff an afternoon off to go Christmas shopping which some do here)
Andy B

Mrs Fiddlesticks wrote:
as far as I can see what has happened is that developing countries are following our model of economic growth, having their own Industrial revolution as it were and copying our pattern of pollution and exploitation etc ( compare and contrast it with working conditions in the C19th factories and mills) Unfortunately there is no other model to copy right now.

There was a paper I read amongst my OU stuff on that sort of thing (but I'm not going up to the loft to get it) and it was hoping that countries like India could find some new model of growth that was environmentally sensitive from the off. Bringing in practices that had built in savings for energy or better working conditions. It is possible to do but remains to be seen whether it'll actually happen. There is a chance that they can learn from what the west got wrong.

The other thought is that economic growth and profit have been the absolute model of a country for so long that there doesn't appear to be any other measure of success. I've no idea how we can get away from a money driven world but there must be a way in which life contentment, and 'sufficient means' health and other indicators become more dominant. That is highly idealistic of course and a pig has just been cleared for take off from my garden.


The problem is that the people making the decisions get the money while others do the work and they are never satisfied with some profit they just want more and more at any expense!
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