Talk about Newsnight

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Wednesday, 23 January, 2008

  • Newsnight
  • 23 Jan 08, 06:54 PM

Burbo bank wind farmThe European Commission has announced plans to make Europe the first "economy for a low carbon age". The measures will add around £10 a month to household and include a new emissions trading scheme and targets for producing energy from renewables. But how damaging will these measures be for European competitiveness against emerging markets in India and China - especially in a period of global economic uncertainty, when already many are expecting growth to slow, or halt altogether? A number of economists and scientists are questioning whether it is possible to tackle climate change while continuing to pursue a go-for-growth economic strategy. So do we need to give up on growth?

For once it is possible to state with certainty that the number of police attending matched the number of people taking part in the march. Around 22,500 police marched through London to protest about a pay rise which they say amounts to 1.9% in spite of a recommendation from the Police Pay Review body of 2.5%. David Grossman will have the latest on whether a compromise can be reached.

Palestinians have been rushing over the border into Egypt to buy essential supplies after part of the border was destroyed. Food and fuel have been scarce since Israel blocked access to Gaza, following rocket attacks on southern Israel. The Egyptians seem to be turning a blind eye to this breach of the border. Mark Urban will explain what's happening.

How far should parents go to get their children into the school of their choice? In an interview for 'The Times', David Cameron refused to criticise "middle class parents with sharp elbows" who pretend they are Christians to get a place at a church school. All parents want to ensure they are getting the best education they can for their children, but is lying about your faith a step too far? And is David Cameron right to condone it?

Newsnight has uncovered a previously unbroadcast recording of the Courtauld Institute's controversial but influential Director, Anthony Blunt. Though better known for his political activities as a Soviet spy, he was also passionate about art history and was adored by many who were taught by him. Our Culture Correspondent Madeleine Holt will be looking at the softer side of Anthony Blunt and the eccentric world of the Courtauld - which celebrates its 75th anniversary this year. Read more about Anthony Blunt and the Courtauld interview.

Comments  Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 07:41 PM on 23 Jan 2008,
  • Christopher Linthwaite wrote:

Paxo can do anything!!! From sorting out the lack of support from certain products purchased at M&S to breaking the siege of Gaza by Israel. Simply by getting an Israeli ambassador to speak volumes by not answering the question.

Right, Paxo can you know turn your energies to stopping the Whale hunt in Antarctica?

  • 2.
  • At 07:53 PM on 23 Jan 2008,
  • Nick Thornsby wrote:

I went to a C of E school and to be honest I didn't carry on going to church for very long after I went to the school. I don't think this was a premeditated decision by my parents, but I am sure it was part of the thinking. However this was the case with probably 90% of the pupils at school. In fact some it was all a planned thing just to get into our school. But the alternative school which is the comprehensive down the road which is next to a council estate, had terrible problems with behavior and discipline and results are much much lower. I have now come to a decent uni, something which would have been statistically less likely if i had gone to the other school. So was this a morally wrong thing for my parents, or many other parents to do? I don't think so.

  • 3.
  • At 10:46 PM on 23 Jan 2008,
  • Duncan wrote:

Pathetic dumbed down report on 'growth'. Why couldn't you focus on the economics, compare the different energy sources, look at the total costs and benefits, look at where the VC money is going and present it in a longer term perspective. The whole growth hook for the story was er zzzzzz

  • 4.
  • At 10:51 PM on 23 Jan 2008,
  • Alasdair wrote:

Ummmm have the "green" enconomists forgotten aboput the concept of competitive advantage? The multi-nationals will simply flee the EU for countries where the new emmisions requirements are not enforcable...i.e. China, India, Brasil, etc

  • 5.
  • At 11:09 PM on 23 Jan 2008,
  • Sanjay Panda wrote:


Just now heard the comment from Mr. Simms arguing over the zero growth and mentioning that persons living at £1 a day are happier than those driving a Ferrai here in developed world!! - Well ask him if he has actually asked that question to anyone earning and living £1 a day?? I am sure, if he does, Mr Simms will get a very rude shocking response. Reality is that about 80% of the world population want to grow to the level of developed world and the juggernaut is almost impossible to control.
Lets be practical about climate change and the important steps that need to be taken to reduce impact, not just come up with strange ideas (zero growth etc etc...) and portray it as revolutionary. Such ideas will be good for theoritical academics and just to keep them on the media limelight and die down when someone else comes up with a "workable" solution or another "theoritical revolutionary" ideas.

  • 6.
  • At 11:13 PM on 23 Jan 2008,
  • Puzzled wrote:

How many low energy light bulbs does it take to compensate for our wars or are the latter environmentally friendly?

  • 7.
  • At 11:27 PM on 23 Jan 2008,
  • John Braddock wrote:

Perhaps if we all eschewed underwear then it might have a small but significant effect on reducing global warming - however (economic) growth would be curtailed !!

  • 8.
  • At 11:36 PM on 23 Jan 2008,
  • Reimer wrote:

The Blunt piece was like a parody of perceived BBC attitudes. I presume it was a genuine espousal of such attitudes via proxies since all concerned, so ready to exonerate a traitor, were not subjected to any kind of questioning of their views that I could perceive.

  • 9.
  • At 12:38 AM on 24 Jan 2008,
  • Lionel Tiger wrote:

If landfill tax on ash from coal fired power stations is pushing up the priceof using coal, can the ash be used as a useful building or agricultural material and avoid the energy intensive process of producing those materials from processing mineral sources, thus cutting such energy demands associated with those processes ? Is the solution really to make the public a scapegoat and bombard them with propaganda, guilt and blame ? Embrace industry and work with them for solutions to the problems that can only be solved by those suitably equipped to deal with them. Energy policy should promote adoption of the most efficient technologies whilst still including the costs of waste disposal and the priceless health considerations of citizens in the decision making processes. A sustainable civilisation should be embraced by everyone, a fear driven society blaming others should not be the solution. Leaders in technology and industry should make the changes, and the public presented with a rational and realistic remit should be willing to accept this for the greater good. People will naturally resent prohibitions and rebel against them if legislative justifications are poorly made with inaccurate science and political josturing. Don't let the politicians sweep it under the carpet and throw it into the long grass. Get industry to make a use for it and boost trade of a valuable biproduct.

  • 10.
  • At 01:09 AM on 24 Jan 2008,
  • Ken Neal wrote:

Negative growth will be forced on us in the near future by the peaking of the world's main fuel supplies, oil, gas and coal. When, will depend on the depth of the coming recession and how much of the world it takes in. The worse the recession, the longer the respite from peak fossil fuel.

The other problem we have, that economists are too dumb to see, is peak everything. Besides fossil fuels, our metals are running out, water is running short, the phosphorus that is essential for growing our food is running short, fertilizers are made from natural gas, which is running short, and food is running short because we are making it into fuel so that we can drive our cars!

We are facing geological constraints that cannot be overcome by economic means. The market cannot provide more oil if it doesn't exist in the ground. Even George Bush has realised that. We cannot get more oil from oil sands if it takes more energy to get it out than we get from it.

Neither can the market get us more metal from the ground if the ore isn't there to get. There is also the rate at which these commodities can be extracted which, in the case of oil at least, is limited by geological constraints.

When will economists realise that we only have one earth to live on and when we have exhausted its resources, there ain't nothing left!

Good to see the economic growth issue covered in a program. We definitely need more on this issue though. There wasn't enough depth in the treatment to do this very big issue and all that it relates to justice.

The kinds of economic growth we've had in the past have caused the climate problems science now details. They have been and are carbon-intensive.

What, if any, kinds of economic growth are consistent with fighting climate change? And indeed building general wellbeing?

Those economic growth patterns with the most promise of being consistent with wellbeing are presumeably likely to be much more controlled and selective than in the past: how?

It now seems clearer than ever that the achievement of a growing economy as the primary aim of governments of all political colours has been misguided - we've been seeing growth as equivalent to progress and improved wellbeing when the evidence shows a much more complex picture.

Can we beat Robert F Kennedy's words on growth as measured by GNP:

"The Gross National Product includes air pollution and advertising for cigarettes and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. It counts special locks for our doors and jails for the people who break them. GNP includes the destruction of the redwoods and the death of Lake Superior. It grows with the production of napalm, missiles and nuclear warheads.

And if GNP includes all this, there is much that it does not comprehend. It does not allow for the health of our families, the quality of their education or the joy of their play. It is indifferent to the decency of our factories and the safety of our streets alike. It does not include the beauty of our poetry, the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. GNP measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country…"

Part of the solution is to measure the right factors in our society and economy, as long as we dont at the same time get obsessed with and tied in by a rigid approach to measurement.

  • 12.
  • At 02:38 AM on 24 Jan 2008,
  • Mark wrote:

"economy for a low carbon age." Is the world running short of Carbon too? :-) One thing Europe never runs short of...slogans. Sometimes I think that's all its got.

  • 13.
  • At 09:50 AM on 24 Jan 2008,
  • stevie wrote:

Am I the only person who felt a tinge of regret about the way we treated Blunt,the Queen's relative. The people who threw in their lot with the Soviets, like McClean, Burgess, Philby etc., were all from the high intelligence end of the spectrum....can you imagine the same group going down the george Bush road? Neither can I. Maybe our intelligence stalwarts backed the wrong side and after the fiasco of Iraq continue to do so.

Excellent Jeremy (52/10) last night, particularly with Hillary Benn :-) and interesting debate with John Llewellyn from Lehman Brothers.

Andrew Simms of NEF on Newsnight
a note by Richard D North

Andrew Simms made no economic remarks.

He said growth:
intensified climate change;
didn't produce well-being;
wasn't trickling down to the poor.

He implied that recession may be good on all these scores. He proposed no policy.

What would a Simms policy be?
(1) Exhort people to be less greedy?
(2) Tax carbon?
(3) Tax wealth?
(4) Rig trade rules toward the poor?

These are all in play as a matter of conventional policy and only (2) is pretty uncontroversial.

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