Political Climate Action

The current world political climate is shame-and-blame in order to gain approvals for the Paris accord. Thus pressure is applied to political officials at every level to show their colors on acting to “fight climate change.”

For example, Hillary declared to great applause: “I believe in Science.” (I don’t know where to start on that.) This week Canada PM Trudeau announced he would impose a federal carbon tax of $10 a tonne starting in 2018, rising to $50 a tonne in 2022 on any province that did not enact its own equivalent carbon pricing. Several provincial premiers walked out at that point, disappointed that collaboration and consensus-building had only one predetermined outcome.

There is no place to hide these days, and politicians who have a rational position on climate science (in contrast to Hillary) had better legislate on the issue. A common sense legislative motion could read something like this (followed by supporting documentation and references).

Whereas, Extent of global sea ice is at or above historical averages;

Whereas, Populations of polar bears are generally growing;

Whereas, Sea levels have been slowly rising at the same rate since the Little Ice Age ended 150 years ago;

Whereas, Oceans will not become acidic due to buffering from extensive mineral deposits and marine life is well adapted to pH fluctuations that do occur;

Whereas, Extreme weather events have not increased in recent decades and such events are more associated to periods of cooling rather than warming;

Whereas, Cold spells, not heat waves, are the greater threat to human life and prosperity;

Therefore, This chamber agrees that climate is variable and prudent public officials should plan for future periods both colder and warmer than the present. Two principle objectives will be robust infrastructure and reliable, affordable energy.

Comment:

The underlying issue is the assumption that the future can only be warmer than the present. Once you accept the notion that CO2 makes the earth’s surface warmer (an unproven conjecture), then temperatures can only go higher since CO2 keeps rising. The present plateau in temperatures is inconvenient, but actual cooling would directly contradict the CO2 doctrine. Some excuses can be fabricated for a time, but an extended period of cooling undermines the whole global warming mantra.

It’s not a matter of fearing a new ice age. That will come eventually, according to our planet’s history, but the warning will come from increasing ice extent in the Northern Hemisphere. Presently infrastructures in many places are not ready to meet a return of 1950s weather, let alone something unprecedented.

Public policy must include preparations for cooling since that is the greater hazard. Cold harms the biosphere: plants, animals and humans. And it is expensive and energy intensive to protect life from the ravages of cold. Society can not afford to be in denial about the prospect of the current temperature plateau ending with cooling.

Footnote:

The Trudeau initiative is an example of the alternative to legislating a rational position. It is virtue-signalling by adopting a token carbon price, which will not lower CO2 concentrations, nor reduce temperatures. The tax will enrich government coffers, which is a key motivation for politicians hiding behind this noble cause.

In 2015, gasoline taxes in Canada represented on average 38.5 cents per litre, which is approximately 35% of the pump price. That includes 10¢/litre federal tax, provincial fuel taxes ranging from 6 to 19 ¢/litre, plus sales taxes. Taxing at $10 a tonne starting in 2018 would add a carbon tax on top as shown below:

Fuel Type UNITS FOR TAX 2018 Added Tax
Gasoline ¢/litre 2.22
Diesel (light fuel oil) ¢/litre 2.56
Jet Fuel ¢/litre 2.61
Natural Gas ¢/litre 1.90
Propane ¢/litre 1.54
Coal – high heat value $/tonne 20.77
Coal – low heat value $/tonne 17.77

These pennies added on top will not change behavior, but millions of consumers’ dollars will be skimmed in a hidden way, including rising transportation costs of everything.

If this was anything other than a tax grab, they would do one or both of two things:

  • Make the tax revenue neutral by paying the monies collected back to consumers; and
  • Make the increases in the carbon tax rate conditional upon rising temperatures as measured by satellites. (as proposed by economist Ross McKitrick)

fuel-tax

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5 comments

  1. Climatism · October 4, 2016

    Reblogged this on Climatism and commented:
    Great post. This stuff should be taught in schools, in about … half an hour!

    Thanks Ron.

    Like

  2. Swisspeasant · October 4, 2016

    Beautifully put.
    I will cut out and spread.
    Thank you.

    Like

  3. manicbeancounter · October 4, 2016

    Ron,
    Whilst what you write is more than sufficient to say that there is no justification for policy, it does not capture the full magnitude of the reason for not pursuing mitigation policy.
    What you state here is that there is very little or no evidence of an emerging catastrophic global warming problem. There is not even evidence of competency from the climate community, having continually wrongly prophesied doom, then not revised their prophesies when they turned out to be wrong. Also you correctly state that a carbon tax will have very little effect on demand. In economics terms demand for fossil fuels is highly inelastic with respect to price. This is due to there being no close substitutes in terms of cost or accessibility.
    The reason why I say it does not capture the full magnitude of the reason for not pursuing policies is that CAGW will allegedly be caused be global GHG emissions. Although estimates vary, in 2010 Canada’s GHG emissions were about 800 MtCO2e, or around 4% of the global total of 50000 MtCO2e. Whatever policy costs Canada incurs will not be offset by future reductions in the costs of CAGW. This is still the case even if all policy proposals submitted to Paris are fully implemented. The UNFCCC has produced a graphic which demonstrates the policy shortfall.

    Even this overstates the policy case. There is no single method for estimating GHG emissions (an extreme case I looked at was for Indonesia, due to having to guess at forest fires and deforestation) nor any method of ensuring compliance with agreements, nor sanctions for failing to meet agreed targets. Even worse, over two-thirds of the worlds population lives in countries with no treaty obligation to even constrain emission growth, let alone reduce emissions. My minimum criteria for pursuing mitigation policies is that there should be a reasonable expectation that the policy costs should be less than the projected climate costs mitigated. There are a number of different reasons on their own that are sufficient to show for Canada this basic criteria will not be met.

    Like

    • Ron Clutz · October 4, 2016

      Manic, your analysis cuts to the bone, yet they march on like lemmings over the cliff. We are witnessing the triumph of social grooming over common sense.

      Like

  4. hunter · October 4, 2016

    Ron, you are eloquent and clearly written. Thanks for being a light in the climate darkness.

    Like

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