19 Mar 2015

The great smog – who's at fault, Europe, China or us?

You can see it. You can touch it. I can tell you I scraped it off my cycling mask this very morning.

Pollution. But hey presto, it’s not our pollution – it’s those grubby people in Europe.

The smog currently hanging over the country blew over from Paris. Some might say it’s a matter of grubby Europeans, which has all the hallmarks of a political issue for Ukip – whether climate change and pollution would interest them is another matter.

A small-particle haze clouds a view of the Eiffel Tower and the Paris skyline in ParisBut what it has done is to leave the political classes here, or most of them, breathing (even with difficulty) a sigh of relief. It coincides with the government’s claim to be leading the world in cutting carbon emissions.

But now, researchers at Leeds University, led by Professor John Barrett, have shown what’s happened to our polluting habits.

We’ve exported them to countries like China. As our manufacturing base has shrunk, so our dependence on other people to make things has expanded.

Professor Barrett and his team are arguing that we should now be paying a levy for the specific amounts of production that we consume from abroad.

This, of course, has been one of the key strands of global negotiations over climate change ever since the Kyoto agreements of 1997.

It seems that any desire to start charging for CO2 emissions has been austericised (sounds good, I wonder if it’s a word?) out of successive budgets, and whilst George Osborne stood up and committed himself to £1bn on a new generating system derived from tidal movements off Swansea, there was not a single measure designed to reduce people’s emission of CO2.

If these scientists delving deeper and deeper into our universe and beyond are aware of one thing, it is that one of the drivers for such an endeavour is the dawning reality that we are destroying the planet upon which we live, and may have to find another to take its place.An awful lot of us are in danger of suffering the consequences of our heating world right now.Vanuatu’s president put at least part of the blame for the ferocity of Cyclone Pam on man-made global warming.

One wonders whether some of the alienation from Westminster politics may have at least something to do with the fact that many young people in the UK prioritise what is being done to their future world much more than the oldies now fighting for political power.

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7 reader comments

  1. Philip says:

    Particularly as the oldies fight out their introverted little battles in such a puerile way….aided and abetted by a media which is fixated on triviality & short termism. Many media owners don’t want important (causes rather than their favoured symptoms) issues discussed – and among them are climate change deniers. The BBC is paralysed by fear of the politicians – hence the grovelling retreat over the election debates, when Cameron should’ve been empty-seated or his bluff called. Only the Grauniad & Indy raise climate change issues seriously, and to a significant extent they’re preaching to the converted.
    It’s a pity there seems to be no way of having an election that raises the important issues that will affect our future and our children & grandchildren’s future, rather than obfuscation and meaningless yah boo sucks diatribes

  2. anon says:

    either way, as the source of the pollution / or as the customers of the polluting country/s we could stop the pollution if the political will was there?

    as with so many issues -no will(power), no way -forwards?

    I hope you do not mind me saying this, but It has been obvious to me and I am sure to many other people, that given the ideal Parliament would only have the very ‘best’ (in the broadest sense), people in our society showing leadership to the rest of us, with the most creativity and ideas, the courage to implement them, and to stand up to the brickbats etc and powerful vested interests in order to do so, even to threats, bribes, and anything else that comes along, then such a Parliament must -surely- have far more people like yourself Mr Snow and your outstanding colleagues on Channel 4 News

    God Bless you all, and thank you for all you are doing to give a voice to those without one

  3. Philip Edwards says:


    “…our manufacturing base has shrunk…”

    And not a single question as to why it was done, who benefits, and what the affect has been on our socioeconomic existence……

    Tsk tsk.

    Frankly, I find it hugely amusing that the worst pollution has settled on London. Because that’s where it rightly belongs.

  4. Alan says:

    Fair enough article, shame it’s dependence appears to be the theory of global warming. Possibly a mention of unregulated geoengineering may provide a basis for further investigation. Suspect us common folk will be apportioned the lions share of the blame again.

  5. soren says:

    How does this compare tot he smog that engulfed London in the post war years; Jon Snow may remember; Though I doubt he was raised in London he may have seen it on TV

  6. robert black says:

    Not on this subject but there does not seem to be any room for comment on your interview with Paul Johnson of the Institute for Fiscal Studies the other evening ,over the Budget.
    You allowed Mr Johnson to state that “Im not here to defend the Budget.” and then to go on and give his personal view that a small state is preferable. Precisely Osbornes ideology
    You describe Mr Johnson as the Head of The institute for Fiscal Studies, an “independent ” thinktank. How independent is an orgaanisation that relies on Government Grants for its existence and masquerades as a charity(Fiscal Irony here,surely!). Furthermore it was founded by a quartet of bankers,stockbrokers and investment managers in 1965 in a direct reaction to Labour introducing Capital Gains Tax, as promised in their 1964 Manifesto. Independent thinktank ! My septic tank has more integrity .!

  7. bikewheels says:

    I still think my content on pavement cycling was relevant and interesting perspective for Jon SNow to comment on given his love for amateur cycling;

    Find a relevant blog and post it under there.

Comments are closed.