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Energy and the Environment in the Future

Energy Thailand Taxes Fossil Fuel Nuclear carbon emissions local investment

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In the developing world, the costs and benefits of energy production are rarely shared equitably...


...in Thailand, the reality is that energy investments are increasingly driven by the greed of corporations, not by the preferences of the Thai middle class. Because many of the government's top energy planners sit on the boards of privatized energy companies, planning is distorted and unnecessary projects are churned out... Consumers are held captive, underwriting superfluous and destructive energy ventures...


Uneven distribution. The flow of energy from poor areas to rich areas is common—within countries, between countries, and between the developing and developed worlds. But paradoxically, the countries from which energy resources are exported are often energy-poor themselves. In Myanmar, for example, only 26 percent of the population has access to electricity (and even this is intermittent). But according to a 2012 report by the Asian Development Bank, more than half the country's energy supply goes to export.


Globally, decades of economic development have generated a lot of energy and a lot of profit, but neither is distributed evenly. Nearly 1.3 billion people around the world lack electricity access, while 46 percent of the world's wealth is concentrated among the richest 1 percent of people. Energy projects, far from granting poor people access to modern energy services, often leave them displaced, with their natural environments polluted or degraded.


Poverty exists not because the world has too little wealth but because the global economic system is unjust. As Mohandas Gandhi put it, "The world has enough for everyone's needs, but not everyone's greed."...


...fossil fuel consumption must decline precipitously—in developed and developing nations alike—if humanity is to avoid climate catastrophe...


These fuels, in addition to providing energy, have become essential inputs in everything from synthetic fertilizers to plastics. Fossil fuels are engines of capital generation and accumulation. They are time savers, labor savers, conveyors of international trade, yardsticks of progress, supposed guarantors of national security, and addictive drugs disguised as providers of convenience and comfort. They have allowed production facilities to relocate anywhere in search of cheap labor. They have enabled the creation of mobile, dispensable work forces. They have made geography an abstraction, with resources anywhere now fair game for multinational corporations. They are the necessary precondition for accumulating capital on the basis of exploiting global labor and resources. Fossil fuels are so entrenched in the global economy that reducing dependence on them will require radical change.




Renewable energy sources and conservation technologies should be exploited to their maximum potential wherever doing so makes economic sense. But though some countries are embracing green energy, few so far have made a meaningful dent in their carbon dioxide emissions. And often green energy is given only lip service—or is met with outright resistance. Simply put, green energy does not provide a silver bullet for the world's climate problems. Nuclear projects, meanwhile, are too expensive, present too many environmental and proliferation risks, and take too long to build. Nuclear energy should be off the table.


So how does the world lift itself out of the fossil fuel hole it has dug?




No new coal- or gas-fired power plants should be built... Auctioning of petroleum concessions should cease. Subsidies and tax privileges should be withdrawn from any energy-intensive industry that primarily serves export markets. Support should also be withdrawn for energy- and chemical-intensive agriculture.


Next, taxes should be imposed or increased on carbon emissions...Taxes on labor, meanwhile, should be reduced. Overall tax revenues would increase, and these funds should be invested in green energy, health, education, community empowerment, and reorienting economic infrastructures toward self-sufficiency, sustainability, and meeting basic needs.


...Investment would be locally directed and consumption would be locally sourced. Natural resources would fall under local stewardship. Profits would come in the form of improved health, stronger communities, and a cleaner environment. People would work not so much to amass money as to address real needs—their own needs, other people's, and those of everyone's children and grandchildren.





The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls

Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: Energy, Thailand, Taxes, Fossil Fuel, Nuclear, carbon emissions, local investment

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