If you look at international CO2 consumption statements per capita, they will often be grossly misleading because they are calculated according to the method agreed in connection with the Koyoto agreement, ie they include the country’s direct and indirect energy consumption while citizens’ indirect CO2 consumption is not included. clothing etc. Therefore, the Danes’ CO2 consumption per capita is also only stated at about 5 tonnes per Dane in UN / WE tables.
However, Concito has made an alternative calculation, which also includes the indirect CO2 consumption, also the calculation suddenly sounds like 19 tonnes of CO2 per Dane, which unfortunately brings us to the top of the most CO2-emitting countries per capita. A somewhat different picture than the fake news picture we have so successfully sold abroad about the green Danish society. When you tell foreigners that, they are always very surprised.
Citizens’ indirect CO2 consumption thus constitutes 80% of the total consumption and therefore it is crucial to also focus on reducing it, but the typical systemic changes and project proposals thus only work to reduce emissions from scope 1 and 2, which thus “only” makes up 20% of the CO2 footprint per capita.
Our Climatesavior solution is targeted at reducing citizens’ CO2 footprint.
Shell and other Dutch multinationals donated over a million guilders – close to half a million Euros – to prominent Dutch climate science denier Frits Böttcher during the 1990s, documents from his personal archives reveal. Böttcher’s explicit objective: to question human responsibility for global warming.
“In the past three years I managed to coordinate the scientific opposition against the CO2-Hetze [hate campaign]”, Böttcher, who died in 2008, writes in a letter to Hubert Knoche, then secretary general of the lobby group of European oil refiners Europia. The year is 1996 and the emeritus professor of chemistry, although 80 years old, is at the height of his prominence in the climate debate.
In May of the same year he would appear before the Dutch parliamentary committee, investigating the causes and consequences of human-made climate change, to argue that the UN’s official advisor, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), had it all wrong. In Böttcher’s view, carbon dioxide had mostly positive impacts on plants and the greenhouse effect was an unproven hypothesis. The expected rise in carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere should not be feared, he stated on Dutch national television: “For the plant world, it’s only a small step in the right direction.”
He would repeat that message countless times in his publications, public lectures and statements to the Dutch and foreign press.
Although not a climate scientist, Böttcher’s reputation as an academic, former member of high-level public advisory boards, and “one of the founders of the Club of Rome” opened many doors. For years, he was seen in the Netherlands as a self-styled “leader of the opposition” against the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
Böttcher attempted to unite other climate science deniers across Europe in his crusade against the IPCC, as he wrote in his letter to Knoche. “Together with two British friends [known to be Roger Bate and John Emsley] I founded the European Science and Environment Forum (ESEF). In March this year we launched our report The Global Warming Debate during an international press conference in Geneva. Our opposition against the IPCC conclusions drew much attention.”
The letter to Knoche is one of the thousands of documents in Böttcher’s personal archive uncovering his role in the climate science denial movement in the Netherlands and abroad during the 1990s. Personal notes, letters, faxes, e-mails and minutes of meetings with sponsors are stored in the provincial archives in Haarlem, where Böttcher’s legacy was moved after his death in 2008. The archive was recently discovered by Platform Authentieke Journalistiek (PAJ), a Dutch collective of investigative journalists, as part of the Shell Papers project, exposing the influence of the oil major on Dutch politics.
Close examination of the archives reveals Böttcher was paid by prominent multinational companies to spread doubt about the human causes of climate change. Between 1989 and 1998, he received at least 1.13 million guilders (worth around €784,000 today) from 25 different companies. His largest donors were Shell (fl. 271,849 or €195,823), steel producer Hoogovens, now Tata Steel (fl. 166,000 or €123,274) and chemicals company DSM (fl. 85,000 or €61,194).
The bulk of the money went towards the wages of Böttcher’s two, or at times three, personal assistants employed by his foundation, the Global Institute for the Study of Natural Resources. They assisted him in making meeting minutes, collecting literature, and maintaining his personal network of sponsors and like-minded climate science deniers from the Netherlands and abroad. A small portion of the funds covered Böttcher’s travel and dinner expenses.
Royal Dutch Shell: ‘Godfather’ of the project
Besides funding, Böttcher’s papers also contain details about how his work evolved through elaborate meeting minutes – to the point of mapping seating arrangements or recording the type of wine served.
When concerns about the greenhouse effect were on the international political agenda for the first time around 1979, Böttcher became a go-to expert for Shell and others that were looking for advice about this issue.
On 13 April 1979, Böttcher wrote in a letter to the scientific council of his Global Institute for the Study of Natural Resources, a small, privately funded research institute he founded in 1976, that his institute received “many enquiries about background material” about the “carbon cycle” and is “asked for guidance or for an opinion”.
In one document, Böttcher describes Royal Dutch Shell as the “godfather” of his “CO2-project”, as he labelled his climate work during the nineties.
The personal notes on the history of this CO2-project explain that people from Shell, for which Böttcher worked as a part-time research adviser between 1953 and 1983, contacted him in 1989, shortly after he published two articles denouncing the “defamation of CO2” in the Dutch newspaper NRC. “I allowed myself to be persuaded by a number of contacts – generally from Shell circles – to take on a CO2/greenhouse effect project”, Böttcher wrote.
Huub van Engelshoven, a member of Shell’s board between 1982 and 1991, approved the first donation for the CO2 project in 1990 of 60,000 guilders (worth approximately €47,500 today) on the condition that at least three more sponsors would join. Böttcher, who throughout his long career occupied board positions in 12 different companies and who was a well respected figure among the Dutch old boys’ network of business leaders, collected pledges from three other companies (AkzoNobel, Hoogovens and the ANWB) in a matter of weeks. In the nine years that the CO2-project lasted (1990-1998), at least 24 other firms, mostly Dutch, would join the list of sponsors.
The timing of the CO2-project and the involvement of Shell and other companies is no coincidence. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was founded in 1988. In November 1989, the Netherlands hosted the first international climate summit in the coastal town of Noordwijk. After the summit, the call for ambitious climate policies that could affect large industries grew.
Böttcher’s participation in the emerging climate debate was useful to Dutch industry, as Shell’s Huub Van Engelshoven would tell him in a meeting in June 1994. According to a report of the meeting from Böttcher’s archive: “Huub emphasized once again that I come across as more neutral as a scientist than people from the business sector.”
Böttcher’s documents also reveal that his relationship with his sponsors was more than financial, as his donors helped to disseminate his publications, find other sponsors and deliberated about the content of his future articles.
One of the first achievements of the CO2-project was the production of his booklet Science and Fiction of the Greenhouse Effect, published in 1992. The booklet – a fierce diatribe against climate science, the IPCC, and environmental policies – was distributed through his contacts within industry.
As Ian Christmas, chair of the International Iron and Steel Industry (IISI), wrote to Böttcher in April of 1994: “there is an appreciation of the value and quality of the contribution which the Institute is making to the debate on carbon dioxide and the greenhouse effect. Accordingly we would like to order from the Institute 100 copies of the report which we would distribute to all our Board of Directors who represent the major steel companies world-wide.”.
Lois Johnston, a press spokesperson for US oil company Texaco, did the same for several of Böttcher’s publications between 1995 and 1998, approaching her colleagues in the oil industry and her media contacts to disseminate the work, letters and reports of meetings show.
Meanwhile, Böttcher drew inspiration from and collaborated with like-minded climate science denial organizations from the United States.
A document listing his “contacts in Washington” mentions the notorious coal-funded Climate Council and its director Donald Pearlman (a “good friend”), Robert Jastrow and Frederick Seitz of the George C. Marshall Institute, and Fred Singer of the Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP). Though no evidence of direct funding from these organizations to Böttcher was discovered, correspondence reveals close collaboration with the groups. For instance, Böttcher served on the Scientific Council of SEPP since 1992, and regularly discussed his activities with its director, Fred Singer.
The global coordination of like-minded organizations was one topic of discussion between them, as a telefax sent by Böttcher to John Emsley and Roger Bate in June 1997 shows. It says Böttcher and Singer “exchanged ideas about the formation and functioning of an international network based on the Heidelberg Appeal [HA]. On April 17th Fred Singer and the originator of the HA, Michel Salomon (member of ESEF), founded a Washington-based organization, Heidelberg Appeal International Inc. They intend to coordinate various national organizations, including HA-US, HA-F, HA-D, and so on. Their common goal would be the realization of the aims of the HA by educating other scientists, politicians, the media, and the public.”
Böttcher’s papers also reveal ties with the US-based George C. Marshall Institute. The institute’s 1989 publication titled Global Warming: What Does the Science Tell Us? by Frederick Seitz – which, according to Naomi Oreskes in her book Merchants of Doubt, played a crucial role in fomenting US opposition to a binding climate agreement in 1989 – was an inspiration to Böttcher and he circulated it to others in the Netherlands.
In 1993, Böttcher proposed to his main contact at Shell, former managing director Huub van Engelshoven, along with Robert Jastrow, that he set up a European sister organisation of the George C. Marshall Institute, letters and reports from meetings show.
The suggestion was rejected in 1993, however, as the George C. Marshall Institute did not want “to lend its name to a European organization over which it would not have full control”.
From 1994 onwards, the ESEF would publish several books arguing against mainstream climate science and would recruit scientists sympathetic to the group’s position on climate change.
The publications would be disseminated through an ever growing network of companies and policymakers. Böttcher’s ties to mostly Dutch and German corporations including Thyssen Stahl, Bayer and Manabaft, as well as lobbying groups working on a European or global scale such as the World Coal Institute, Europia and the international Iron and Steel Institute, turned out to be particularly useful for spreading ESEF’s message.
Böttcher’s archive reveals the ESEF received corporate funding, directly and indirectly, contradicting public statements that the group “does not accept outside funding from whatever source, the only income it receives is from the sale of its publications”.
Böttcher’s letters reveal that contributions to the CO2-project from corporate sponsors were used to support his efforts to influence the climate debate, including his work for the ESEF. Minutes from ESEF meetings also show that hundreds of their publications were sold to private companies.
For instance, at a meeting in May 1996, a sales report included in the minutes shows that 1288 copies of their controversial The Global Warming Debate book were sold, worth £17,295. The buyers were mainly oil, coal, chemical and steel companies.
The sale of books appeared to be a useful way for both sponsors and the ESEF to provide cover for the mutual relationship. ESEF minutes from October 1996 state that certain companies want to “keep a distance” with the ESEF, “hence the sale of books”. A pre-order from Texaco is accompanied by the remark that it is placed “in order to make possible the publication.”
Eventually, the ESEF would be absorbed by the Foundation Heidelberg Appeal Nederland or “Stichting HAN”, a Dutch foundation founded in 1992 with which Böttcher collaborated closely. Stichting HAN was later absorbed by the “Groene Rekenkamer” [Green Accounting Office], which is still active today and collaborates with Dutch climate science denier organizations such as CLINTEL, launched in 2019.
Funding for Böttcher’s CO2-project dried up after 1998.
In various letters and personal notes, Böttcher observed that worries about public opinion and environmental movements drove sponsors to distance themselves from his CO2-project. Between 1997 and 1998, contributions from Texaco and Shell are filed as contributions to research on “sustainable development”, until they finally end their financial support after 1998.
Dutch chemical company DSM, one of Böttcher’s main sponsors, gives another reason for ending the financial support to his CO2-project in a letter in 1998. The company said it was grateful for Böttcher’s work in previous years and that the decision to end its funding “should not be interpreted as a lack of appreciation for your efforts around CO2 policy”. Damningly, however, DSM explained that its support was ending “based on our impression that the impact of your lobby is dwindling”.
They say a picture speaks a thousand words, so here’s the state of humanity in a single image. It’s the “Doughnut” of social and planetary boundaries and it could just turn out to be the compass we need for creating a safe and just 21st century.
The hole at the Doughnut’s centre reveals the proportion of people worldwide falling short on life’s essentials, such as food, water, healthcare and political freedom of expression – and a big part of humanity’s challenge is to get everyone out of that hole. At the same time, however, we cannot afford to be overshooting the Doughnut’s outer crust if we are to safeguard Earth’s life-giving systems, such as a stable climate, healthy oceans and a protective ozone layer, on which all our wellbeing fundamentally depends.
Safe and just space
If getting into the Doughnut’s safe and just space between these social and planetary boundaries is humanity’s 21st century goal, then – it comes as no surprise – we have a big job ahead. Many millions of people still lack life’s essentials, living daily with hunger, illiteracy, insecurity and voicelessness. At the same time, humanity’s collective pressure on the planet has already overshot at least four planetary boundaries: for climate change, land conversion, fertilizer use, and biodiversity loss.
In other words, today’s global economy is deeply divisive – riven with extreme inequalities – and it is degenerative too, running down the living world on which everything depends.
Inequality seems to have become the topic of our times, even though barely a decade ago it was politely kept off the agenda. Thanks to the past 10 years of ground-breaking analysis – including Wilkinson and Pickett’s The Spirit Level, Oxfam’s annual billionaire calculations and Piketty’s Capital in the 21st Century – combined with the extraordinary rise of the 1%, the promise to tackle inequality now appears high on every policymaker’s list. We are daily offered “inclusive growth” and “an economy that works for everyone”. So what kind of economic mindset can help bring it about?
Certainly not 20th-century thinking on inequality, which was ruled by a spurious economic law of motion. And that law’s accidental creator, Simon Kuznets, would be the first to debunk the political narrative that has been built on the back of it, used to justify trickle-down economics and austerity politics ever since.
In 1955, Kuznets gathered together patchy historical data on income distribution in the US, UK and Germany, and he thought he saw a pattern: that as economies grew, income inequality rose at first and then fell. Plotted on the page, it looked like an upside-down U.
Kuznets was the first to acknowledge that this finding went against his intuition: given the dynamics of capital accumulation, he expected the rich to get richer, not the poor to catch up. So he proffered a tentative explanation based on the process of rural-to-urban migration – a hypothesis for which he later admitted he had “no evidence whatsoever”. He even openly acknowledged that his conclusion was based on “5 per cent empirical information and 95 per cent speculation, some of it possibly tainted by wishful thinking’, later adding that it should not be used for making “unwarranted dogmatic generalisations.”
So much for Kuznets’ caveats. The underlying message – that rising inequality is an inevitable stage on the journey towards economic success for all – was too good a story to doubt and the Kuznets Curve was taught to every student for at least the next 50 years. That matters because it wordlessly whispers a powerful message: if you want progress, inequality is inevitable. It’s got to get worse before it can get better and growth will (eventually) make it better.
So what new paradigm can replace this outdated myth and its accompanying intellectual graffiti? An old picture is best dislodged by a new one, so let’s start with a 21st-century image fit for tackling inequality: a network of flows.
Distributive by design
To transform today’s divisive economies, we need to create economies that are distributive by design – ones that share value far more equitably amongst all those who help to generate it. And thanks to the emergence of network technologies – particularly in digital communications and renewable energy generation – we have a far greater chance of making this happen than any generation before us.
As we do so, we should also deepen the ambition of the redistribution agenda. In the 20th century, policies promoting redistribution were largely focused on redistributing income – by raising taxes, increasing transfers, and implementing minimum wages – along with investing in key public services such as health and education. All are essential, but they still don’t get to the root of economic inequalities because they focus on income, not the sources of wealth that generate it.
Instead of focusing foremost on income, 21st-century economists will seek to redistribute the sources of wealth too – especially the wealth that lies in controlling land and resources, in controlling money creation, and in owning enterprise, technology and knowledge. And instead of turning solely to the market and state for solutions, they will harness the power of the commons to make it happen. Here are some questions that 21st century economists have already taken on to help create an economy that is distributive by design:
Land and resources: how can the value of Earth’s natural commonwealth be more equitably distributed: through land reform, land-value taxes, or by reclaiming land as a commons? And how could understanding our planet’s atmosphere and oceans as global commons far better distribute the global returns to their sustainable use?
Money creation: why endow commercial banks with the right to create money as interest-based debt, and leave them to reap the rents that flow from it? Money could alternatively be created by the state, or indeed by communities as complementary currencies: it’s time to create a monetary ecosystem that can fulfill this distributive potential.
Enterprise: what business design models – such as cooperatives and employee-owed companies – can best ensure that committed workers, not fickle shareholders, reap a far greater share of the value that they help to generate?
Knowledge: how can the potential of the creative commons be unleashed internationally, through free open-source hardware and software, and the rise of creative commons licensing?
Technology: who will own the robots, and why should it be that way? Given that much basic research underlying automation and digitization has been publicly funded, should a share of the rewards not return to the public purse?
By taking on such questions of distributive design, we’ll give ourselves a far greater chance of tackling inequality and of thriving in the Doughnut’s safe and just space this century. And that is nothing less than our generational challenge.
Now more than ever, our planet needs us. We can help in many different ways: by being a climate activist, changing our habits and lifestyles, engaging in politics, doing volunteer work for NGOs. There are many possibilities. The most important thing is that we act in favor of the climate. Every person’s contribution is valuable.
We have developed our climate app Climatesavior because we citizens account for 42% of all CO2 emissions. Therefore, involving us citizens as a resource is also an important part of the solution.
Of course, companies, new technology and politicians also play a crucial role, but we only have 10 years to solve the problem and reduce the world’s total emissions by 50%.
Achieving this goal will be an enormous challenge and therefore everyone who can contribute to reducing CO2 emissions must be involved and activated. Here we believe that we as citizens can play a crucial role. A role that has so far been underestimated by politicians.
During the Corana crisis, we have seen how much it can have when citizens in large numbers change habits globally. We must try to achieve the same effect in the fight against climate challenges.
Our app is intended as a tool that can help all citizens around the world who want to change their habits and reduce their own carbon footprint for the benefit of themselves, their children and their future.
A new study released on Earth Day (22 April) has revealed that the world’s first recyclable coffee cup made from recycled paper, the British-made Frugal Cup, has a carbon footprint up to 60% lower and a water footprint up to 74% lower than conventional and compostable cups.
The independent Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) analysis by Intertek, one of the world’s leading Total Quality Assurance providers, is the first to measure the environmental impact of producing, using and disposing of all types of single use coffee cups, including the whole supply chain from growing trees, paper-making, plastic production, transport, cup and sleeve manufacture, delivery and waste processing.
It found that each conventional single use coffee cup requires 0.58 litres of water to produce and has a carbon footprint of up to 60.9 grams of CO2e per cup. This is because conventional, coated and compostable cups are all made from virgin paper.
That means 1.45 billion litres of water and 1.03 million trees are used to produce more than 2.5 billion coffee cups used in the UK every year and 290 billion litres and 206.3 million trees to make the estimated 500 billion cups used globally.
The carbon footprint of the 2.5 billion cups that go to landfill in the UK is therefore over 152,000 tonnes of CO2e, the equivalent of 33,300 cars being driven for a year. Globally for the 500 billion cups, that is over 30.4 million tonnes, the CO2 equivalent of providing electricity to 5,155,366 households – a city the size of Paris.
However, if the UK moved over to the Frugal Cup, which is made from 96% recycled paper with no waterproofing chemicals, it could save over a billion litres of water and up to a million trees a year. Repeated globally, 215 billion litres of water and 198 million trees could be saved per year.
The analysis shows that if Frugal Cups replaced the more than 2.5 billion coffee cups used in the UK every year, the carbon saving would be approximately 90,315 tonnes of CO2e, which is the carbon equivalent of:
Driving more than 224 million miles in an average car. Enough to drive around the world 8,996 times and take 19,502 cars off the road
Charging 11.5 billion smartphones. More than enough to charge every smartphone on the planet three times
Sequestering carbon from 117,947 acres of forest – the size of 68,300 football pitches
Providing electricity for 15,291 homes for a year – the size of a town like Port Talbot.
If the 500 billion paper cups consumed globally were replaced with Frugal Cup, more than 18 million tonnes of CO2e could be saved, which would be the carbon equivalent of 42 million barrels of oil, driving around the world 1.8 million times or providing electricity to 3,058,173 households for a year – more than enough to power whole countries like Scotland, Denmark or Finland.
Replacing the UK’s more than 2.5 billion cups with Frugal Cup could also save 1.07 billion litres of water every year, the equivalent of 400 Olympic-sized swimming pools, and more than 990,099 trees. (This figure is based on 2006 US statistics that found 6.6 million trees were cut down to produce 16 billion paper coffee cups, therefore averaging 2,424 paper cups per tree and the Frugal Cup being made of 96% recycled paper).