Home > Uncategorized > The EU Green New Deal. Fallen fruit first. And now.

The EU Green New Deal. Fallen fruit first. And now.

from Merijn Knibbe

The EU has announced a ‘Green Deal‘.  Good. But at this moment, this only a plan for a plan. But there’s no time to waste. So, what to do while we wait? Let’s unleash the economists’ neurotic obsession with efficiency! Identify ‘fallen fruit’, energy gobbling activities which shouldn’t have been there in the first place. And get rid of it. Three examples, non of which requries massive investment or path breaking research:

Media boxes. Problem: extreme stand by use. Solution: waiting for Netflix (for a few seconds). Almost every household has a media box, nowadays. And we literally can’t wait to see Netflix. Which means that these boxes are on ‘stand by’ which uses lots of energy.

In the case of Ziggo media boxes: 56 Watt. Suppose that 100.000.000 households in the EU have such a box this translates to 5.600 Mega Watt or twice the capacity of the largest coal fired power station in the world. How to do this: charge Ziggo and comparable companies (which own the mediaboxes, have a very good administration of these and are able to remote controle them!) with ten Euro per year per Watt (maximum use in standby mode). Use the money to lower VAT on labor hours charged by repair companies (including dentists and car repair and maintenance, the largest sectors of these).


Streetlights along highways. Problem: they are turned on. Turning off highway streetlights will make for more pleasant driving, less energy use and a more beautiful world while it’s good for wildlife, too (especially on quiet roads this does not make any difference for safety, on less quiet roads it might have).


Tax Kerosene (or freight or passenger miles). Strong points of air transport: high occupancy rates and impressive energy efficiency gains. Weak point: rapidly increasing numbers of passengers. Achilles heel: freight. As is well known, kerosene is contrary to gasoline not taxed, giving energy guzzling planes an unfair advantage and making travelling cheap for the wrong reason. This unfortunate state of events, in the end, based on a 1944 treaty stating:

“WHEREAS the future development of international civil aviation can greatly help to create and preserve friendship and understanding among the nations and peoples of the world, yet its abuse can become a threat to the general security; and

WHEREAS it is desirable to avoid friction and to promote that co-operation between nations and peoples upon which the peace of the world depends;

THEREFORE, the undersigned governments having agreed on certain principles and arrangements in order that international civil aviation may be developed in a safe and orderly manner and that international air transport services may be established on the basis of equality of opportunity and operated soundly and economically;

Have accordingly concluded this Convention to that end.”

Which is all true. But nowadays, CO2 has to be added to such lofty ideas. Meaning that kerosine has to be taxed. Or, when that’s too complicated, passenger miles have to be taxed. When companies have to pay for ‘spectrum’, why shouldn’t they pay for using air space? The companies already have the data. Or auction the rights to use national air space. Whatever. But: make it expensive. Which, of course, will mean that people with low incomes can’t fly from the Netherlands to the Turkish coast anymore. Compensate them with lower VAT rates. The very least we can do is taxing air freight, per gram. At this moment we’re using planes to fly horses from one continent to another. Which reminds me of the fable of the miller, his son and the donkey. Cooking the planet because we put horses on a plane. Tax it into oblivion. Now

  1. lobdillj
    December 15, 2019 at 12:22 pm

    Thanks for a great rant. Your frustration and consternation are quite appropriate. However, taxation is an answer that cannot solve humanity’s problems. The system is rigged to impoverish everyone but the predators who are in control. The answer is available through MMT.

  2. Patrick Newman
    December 15, 2019 at 1:10 pm

    Turning off street lights will mean people getting about with torches which in turn will require recharging and – you guessed it! Street lights that turn on only when needed – PIR style detection of imminent need would be OK. Dark streets can become de facto curfews for the elderly and women and poor or no street lighting is linked to RTA’s Get pv panels for every pitched roof. There are 1 million solar panel installations in the UK and 27 million households. If you really want to make an impact on emissions get people out of their cars and replace domestic gas and oil-based heating systems with ground and air-based heat pumps.

    • merijntknibbe
      December 15, 2019 at 10:01 pm

      It’s sure more complicated than I state. But I’m writing about highways many of which are really quiet after say 24:00.

  3. John deChadenedes
    December 15, 2019 at 7:24 pm

    I would also recommend finding and hiring some honest economists to publish simple analyses showing, in plain language, which well-known companies are really only “profitable” because they push their external costs onto the public, whether at home or elsewhere. If I have a home-based business that is thriving but I toss all my toxic waste over the fence into my neighbor’s yard, plus I pull bits off her house as my “raw materials” without paying for them, what should the community do? They should make me stop and also pay for the damage I have caused. Think ExxonMobil, Shell, Siemens, GE, Raytheon, and so on and on…

  4. Craig
    December 15, 2019 at 7:52 pm

    The only way to be able to keep the economy flowing and to finance both a bottom up explosion of green consumer technologies and finance the mega projects necessary to deal with the ecological crisis we face is to awaken to the directly distributive monetary paradigm of Gifting. That’s Gifting, Gifting, Gifting….GIFTING.


  5. Craig
    December 15, 2019 at 10:06 pm

    If one remembers the movie When Worlds Collide its premise (a looming extinction) is exactly what we face now. And even if climate change is BS, the end of the primary and non-renewable resource of petroleum, still leaves us with the end of civilization as we know it and the inevitable death of literally billions as a result of the collapse and chaos that WILL ensue.

    It’s WAAAY overdue to begin thinking in pattern change/paradigmatic terms about money, finance and the economy. Reforms are trivial and imminently game-able, and erudite but impotent debate/argumentation is fruitless.

    The end is literally near!

  6. December 16, 2019 at 3:03 pm

    Planes already pay for using national airspace, makes good money for Russia and Canada. Arguably they could pay more. A large amount of emissions are hidden in industry, like steel and concrete.

  7. Ken Zimmerman
    December 24, 2019 at 5:08 pm

    Many once exclusively fossil fuel energy companies are moving into renewable energy investments. Including the biggest AO company among these, Exxon. They’re in it for the money, of course. But at the same time they are giving up on their fossil fuel investments. Word has slipped out (not from any of the American major media sources, however) that the fossil fuel owners have devised a plan to triple the amount of oil and natural gas delivered to retail, wholesale, commercial, and industrial customers over the next 12 years. Based on the UN’s warning that that’s about all the time our Species has left to clean up the climate change mess. That’s a more closely drawn deadline than any American corporation has ever met, staring extinction in the face or not.

    Hopefully, these renewable energy investments will prove profitable for the big energy companies. As to reducing fossil fuel production and use, I suggest governments offer to “buy off” the energy company fossil fuel investments. Estimated at a worth of about $3 trillion, pay these companies the whole amount. And then tax back about 75% of the $3 trillion. Might have a few hard feelings, but the $750 billion the companies would receive has to be more than they expected to get.

    For this to work, however we first must fire Trump, kick him out of the country, and recover all money he has stolen from the US government and private companies. Won’t be a lot. Trump is not that good a thief. But the moral satisfaction would more than make up for the small dollar recovery.

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