Climate Faith ≠ Climate Works

Protestors march to raise awareness of climate change and ecological issues on the second day of the Glastonbury Festival at Worthy Farm, Somerset, England, Thursday, June 27, 2019. (Photo by Grant Pollard/Invision/AP) GRANT POLLARD/INVISION/AP

Michael Lynch writes at Forbes Is The Climate Change Debate A Replay Of The Reformation? Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

During the Reformation, there was an intense debate over whether Christians could enter paradise by doing good works, or whether faith alone allowed such a benefit. (See Fatal Discord: Erasmus, Luther and the Fight for the Western Mind by Michael Massing) This reminds me of the current attitude many have towards climate change policy, where some appear to think that faith alone is sufficient to solve the problem.

In the early days of the global warming debate, I read an English writer praising his country’s example of recognizing climate change compared to American skepticism, although he did admit the British hadn’t actually taken steps to address the problem. Similarly, the U.S. has reduced greenhouse gas emissions more than most countries in the past few years, but incidentally, mostly due to cheap natural gas, and it remains the climate villain in the eyes of many because the president is a denier.

Additionally, a lot of energy, well, effort, goes into demonizing actors or actions that have no practical impact on climate. For example, opposing the construction of oil and gas pipelines does not reduce consumption of oil and gas, and usually increases emissions. Suing the oil or auto industries for blocking climate policies or misleading the public about climate science appeals to many, but with no measurable environmental impact. The same with demanding divestment in fossil fuel company stocks.

Some of the new proposals to address climate change put me mind of the debate between faith and works, especially when they seem more for demonstration purpose than actually reducing emissions. Numerous governments have suggested phasing out all carbon-based electricity generation or all petroleum-fueled vehicles by a point decades into the future, and these tend to be hailed by activists as representing, if not solutions, then great strides forward. New York state, for example, just proposed phasing out carbon-based electricity by 2050; France wants to ban conventional vehicles by 2040, the U.K. by 2050. But as Michael Coren notes, “So far, it’s just words.”

Which reminds me of comedian Billy West who, in the persona of a radio personality, bragged to someone about his fund-raising, adding, “…but mostly it’s just pledges.” Governments have been great at setting goals, but implementation has been seriously lacking. The setting of goals seems more an act of faith than a carrying out of works.

And we have been here before. Many other national and sub-national environmental programs were later abandoned; the 1990s saw California enact mandates for electric vehicle sales—requiring 10% of sales in 2003 be zero emission vehicles—which was adopted by a number of other states, primarily in New England. Ultimately, it was abandoned after wasting billions of dollars. Numerous locales in the U.S. signed on to requirements for oxygenated gasoline, only to back out at the last minute when the cost became apparent.

Technology mandates are a mix of demonizing the producers and demonstrations of faith: telling utilities to buy a certain portion of carbon-free electricity is calling on someone else to act, while hiding the cost of the action. Those who believe in works would do better to buy their own renewable power, either producing it directly or from an independent power producer.

Automobile efficiency standards arguably fall into this category as well, that is, making it seem as if the manufacturers are to blame for consumers’ desire to purchase large, powerful vehicles. There are very fuel-efficient vehicles for sale in the United States, and they are much cheaper than the sauropods dominating American highways, so addressing manufacturer behavior is not the issue. Mandating vehicle efficiency is rather like demanding that a portion of butchers’ sales be veggie burgers; Beyond Meat has shown that success for veggie burgers comes from satisfying consumers, not lecturing them on environmental ethics.

This is where a carbon tax comes in: it is designed to change consumer preferences, reducing carbon emissions in favor of other consumables. It would also motivate producers to meet the demand for products that require less carbon emissions, either in their production or operation. Although the impact would grow over time, it would begin immediately upon implementation, and while it could theoretically be reversed, taxes on consumption tend to be extremely persistent.


I like the author’s comparing of the climate faithful marching in processions to the religious faithful marching on Holy Days. He is right to point out the hypocrisy of of those obsessed over CO2 demonstrating their belief, while still enjoying fossil fuel benefits. And he ridicules the symbolic but ineffectual policies proposed, noting they are merely another form of showing faith rather than taking action that works.

But he ends up accepting the warmist unproven premise: We are sinners because we burn fossil fuels. Moreover, he seems to suggest that imposing a carbon indulgence tax overcomes the moral shortcoming. In fact Reformers strongly opposed the Catholic Church practice of taking money for future promises they could not deliver. Now this scam returns with governments taking the opportunity to fill their coffers. Further, as Bill Gates explained, the tax has a faulty premise: There is presently no substitute for fossil fuels powering modern societies.

The good news is, today’s weather and climate are within ordinary bounds.  The bad news:  If they actually turn climate faith into works, it is the end of life as you know it.


Carbon Tax Dubious Economics

How could 3508 economists be wrong? Let us count the ways.

Michael Davis writes at Regulation Magazine The signatories of the recent “Economists’ Statement on Carbon Dividends” must address some important issues. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Economists are disagreeable people. And it’s good that they are. Most important economic questions are complex, multi-dimensional puzzles with no obvious, simple answers. But debate and disagreement advance our understanding of the world, and so good economists debate and disagree.

If you heard that thousands of the very best economists actually did agree on something, you’d probably think that it was something glaringly obvious—maybe they issued a joint statement condemning the designated hitter rule or calling for a total ban on Super Bowl halftime shows. But those aren’t the subject of the recent “Economists’ Statement on Carbon Dividends,” signed by 3,508 economists and released by the Climate Leadership Council. The statement supports the creation of a Pigouvian tax on U.S. carbon emissions on the grounds that “global climate change is a serious problem calling for immediate national action,” and that “a carbon tax offers the most cost-effective lever to reduce carbon emissions at the scale and speed that is necessary.”

This agreement is remarkable! The environment and the economy are both complex systems. Intelligent people can agree on a few things involving them—of course, manmade global warming is real—but there is vast uncertainty about how the complex climate system interacts with the complex economic system to shape the human condition in the distant future. More importantly, core questions about climate change engage fundamental moral values about intergenerational equity. How to deal with climate change is the very epitome of a “wicked problem.”

[Note: Intelligent people also note that in the world (as opposed to models) manmade global warming has yet to be detected separately from natural global warming. I understand the author is not questioning the science or the impacts (later on), but is raising serious issues about the policy proposal.]

This is a serious proposal advanced by serious people to deal with a serious problem. But it is also a radical proposal. According to a joint study by Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy and the Urban Institute–Brookings Institution Tax Policy Center, in the first year the tax would amount to about $2,000 for a family of four. No matter what is done with the tax revenues, this proposal would have far-reaching economic consequences.

And so, before we get too far along, we need a proper argument over this proposal’s merits. Here, then, are five important questions about the plan. Let’s hope these questions lead to some disagreeable, but fruitful, discussions.

QUESTION 1: What if these economists are right about the principle but wrong about the tax rate?

The principle behind the carbon tax makes perfect economic sense. The market price of any good reflects at least some of the costs of making that good. The price of a gallon of gas, for example, needs to be high enough to compensate all those who worked to get the gas into your car. But some goods—and gasoline is one of them—impose costs on others that are not reflected in the price. Economists call these costs “negative externalities.” If burning a gallon of gas causes damage to coastal property, drivers are not paying the full price of their consumption and that distorts their consumption choices. That’s unfair and inefficient.

The obvious solution is to levy a Pigouvian tax equal to the harm caused, forcing consumers to shoulder the externality cost of their consumption and, perhaps, change their consumption pattern. But we have very little idea of the magnitude of the actual harm from a ton of CO2 emissions and so we don’t really know how high this carbon tax should be. Estimates of the “Social Cost of Carbon” published by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency indicate that a ton of CO2-equivalent released in 2020 could cause harm of as little as $5 or as much as $123. (This roughly translates to a range of between 4¢ and $1 of damage from the burning of a gallon of gas.) The $40-per-ton tax suggested by the Statement signatories is a kind of average of several disparate estimates. As such, it is almost certainly the wrong number.

These economists will, no doubt, point out that the current carbon tax of zero is also wrong. But that observation, alone, is not enough to justify the proposed tax because setting the rate in excess of the actual external harm would cause real economic damage.

The economic argument in favor of carbon taxes needs to be coupled with a clear understanding that cheap, abundant energy has been an essential part of recent human progress. Fossil fuels provide food, shelter, health care, education, the arts, and countless other goods. They are not some vile poison, and consuming fossil fuels is not a shameful sin. When something is taxed, less is consumed. If, as seems likely, we consume too much energy from carbon-based resources, a tax can help to moderate that consumption appropriately. But if the tax is too high, we will consume too little. If we consume too little, we will miss out on some of the benefits that come from fossil fuels.

Here’s another problem related to the practical question of the appropriate carbon tax rate: Many fossil fuels are already heavily taxed. For example, the average tax on motor fuels is now about 48¢ per gallon, the equivalent to a tax of $54 per ton of carbon. These taxes exist mostly to raise revenue for transportation infrastructure, not control some other externality. Should the proposed new carbon tax be in addition to those existing taxes?

QUESTION 2: Should the United States impose carbon taxes even if the rest of the world does not?

In 2019 the world will produce a bit more than 35 gigatons of CO2-equivalent emissions. The United States will contribute about 5 gigatons to that total. The U.S. Department of Energy forecasts that, in 2040, world emissions will increase to 43 gigatons while U.S. emissions will drop by a small amount. A 2018 report by the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University forecasts that if we impose a tax of $50 per ton of carbon in 2020 and increase that tax by 2% per year, annual U.S. emissions will fall by 13%–29% by 2030. But by 2030, U.S. emissions will be less than 15% of the world total. Even under the best-case scenario, our carbon tax would reduce global emissions by less than 5% and climate change will continue.

If the rest of the world doesn’t join us, the U.S. carbon tax won’t matter. This leads to a related problem. If the United States levies a carbon tax, it becomes more expensive for U.S. firms to make and transport goods. That means a U.S. carbon tax will reward those countries that don’t do anything to reduce their emissions by giving those places a competitive advantage. Exploiting that advantage will likely be too much of a temptation for others—especially developing countries with desperately poor people—to ignore. It is even possible that by pushing energy-intensive production to places with no controls on carbon emissions, this policy will make global emissions worse.

QUESTION 3: Doesn’t the “border-adjustment tax” that has to be part of the plan present enormous practical and political problems?

This carbon tax should not just apply to U.S. emissions, but to foreign emissions resulting from goods imported into the United States. Assessing a border-adjustment tax on these goods would be difficult from both an economic and political perspective. For example, almost 5% of the world’s carbon emissions result from the production of cement. But different production technologies for cement and different modes of transportation result in vastly different emissions. Even though two different shipments of cement may be practically identical, they won’t have similar carbon footprints. How would U.S. authorities determine which bags of cement face what tax rates?

The political problems are also tough. First of all, to the rest of the world a border-adjustment tax would seem like a tariff. How would we impose this tax without violating treaty obligations and without inviting retaliation? Second, how would we keep the crony capitalists away from the treats? The temptation to game the system for competitive advantage would be enormous.

QUESTION 4: What about adaptation?

All but the most apocalyptic of the potential harms from global warming can be managed through some type of adaptation to the changing climate. Building practices, for example, can be changed to deal with the threat of rising sea levels. There is also the possibility of some sort of geo-engineering solution. Remember that atmospheric CO2 is an otherwise harmless substance and that the burning of fossil fuels is enormously valuable. This means that if it is less costly to adapt to the effects of a ton of CO2 emissions than it is to eliminate the carbon, we should adapt. But to the extent that the carbon tax actually works to reduce CO2 emissions, it creates disincentives to adapt.

The proponents of a tax might say that the estimates of the Social Cost of Carbon already balance adaptation costs. The problem with that argument, though, is that the most effective adaptation solutions probably haven’t been created. New technologies to deal with climate change—altering agriculture practices, geo-engineering solutions, and other initiatives we can’t currently imagine— may well prove extraordinarily effective and efficient. An effective carbon tax reduces the incentive to find those solutions that allow us to enjoy the benefits of fossil fuel use without much cost.

QUESTION 5: Isn’t economic growth much more important than lowering CO2?

Every four years, a distinguished group of analysts delivers to Congress the “National Climate Assessment.” The latest version came out last November and was full of sobering projections. Anyone who chooses to ignore the threat of global warming should read what it has to say. Among the direst warnings was a graphic showing that if the worst-case scenario played out, by 2100 the effects of global warming would reduce U.S. gross domestic product by about 15% from current projections. To put that number in perspective, during the 2008 recession GDP fell by about 1%. That was accompanied by huge increases in unemployment and economic dislocation. Between 1929 and 1933, the worst years of the Great Depression, GDP fell by about 34%. That led to tremendous misery and, arguably, a world war. Remember, too, that the potential decline of 15% of GDP in 2100 isn’t just a short-term event. As bad as the Great Depression was, the economy recovered. The scary scenario is that by failing to address global warming, we will cause future generations to suffer a huge permanent decline in GDP.

But there’s another thing to keep in mind: if the United States could boost annual GDP growth rates between now and 2100 by an additional 0.2 percentage points, by the year 2100 U.S. GDP would be more than 17% larger than is currently projected. Think about it this way: Suppose that you had to pick between two tax policies. The first would reduce U.S. carbon emissions and maybe prevent the potential loss of 15% of GDP by 2100. The second would increase annual growth rates by 0.2 percentage points, increasing GDP by 17% by 2100.

As you’re picking between the choices, keep in mind that even if the carbon policy controls U.S. emissions, it is uncertain whether the rest of the world will go along and climate change will stop. Remember, too, that there is huge uncertainty about the specifics of global warming. The carbon emissions policies target the worst-case scenario. The GDP growth policy, on the other hand, doesn’t depend on the rest of the world and the benefits are guaranteed by the simple mathematics of compound growth.

Don’t try to waive off this choice by saying you want to do it all. We all want many things, but what we can have is bounded by our scarce resources. This particular group of distinguished economists has—quite deservedly—an impressive stock of political capital and prestige. But political capital and prestige are two such scarce resources. Why target carbon taxes rather than growth-enhancing tax reform?

Climate lemmings sticking together.


Let’s end where we started, with a call for a conversation. These five questions aren’t intended as some snarky put-down of a silly economic proposal. No good economist—and certainly none of the 3,508 who signed the Statement—should feel disrespectfully challenged by these questions. There are intelligent responses to each of these questions. And at the end of the discussion, we should all have a better idea about whether the answers are good enough to go ahead with the tax.

Don’t Miss the Memo on Climate Change

Marlo Lewis, Jr. provides a web memo entitled A Policy Maker’s Guide to Climate Change Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Here are five things you need to know:

1. Climate change is not a “planetary emergency.”

2. The climate catastrophe narrative is concocted out of overheated climate models, inflated emission scenarios, political hype, and unmerited pessimism about human adaptive capabilities.

3. All metrics of human well-being show the state of the world is improving; sustaining such progress requires greater access to affordable energy.

4. The very real costs of climate “solutions” hugely exceed their hypothetical benefits.

5. Citizens have more to fear from the climate policy agenda than from climate change itself.

This memo provides supporting evidence for those conclusions.For example,

Models vs. Data. Much of what passes for climate science today is model-based speculation about future climate impacts. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) runs an ensemble of 32 model groups called CMIP5.[1] The models on average projected twice as much warming over the past 40 years as actually occurred in the lower global atmosphere.[2]

A reasonable explanation for the models’ lack of realism is that they overestimate climate sensitivity—the long-term change in average global temperature after a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration. The average climate sensitivity estimated in two dozen recent studies is 40 percent lower than the average estimated by the U.N. models.[3]

Only one model in the CMIP ensemble has accurately tracked temperature trends in the bulk atmosphere over the past 40 years—the Russian INM-CM4. When INM-CM4 is run with a realistic emission scenario in which natural gas increasingly displaces coal as an electricity fuel, the world achieves the Paris climate treaty’s 1.5°C warming limit with no new climate policies.[7]

Improving State of the World. If climate change were a global ecological crisis, we would expect to find evidence of declining human health and well-being. Instead, we find dramatic improvement in life expectancy, per capita income, food security, and various health related metrics.[8]

Conclusion. Perceptions of a “planetary emergency” arise from overheated climate models, inflated emission scenarios, disregard of basic data on human health and well-being, and relentless exaggeration by political interests claiming to speak for “the science.” The very real costs of coercive de-carbonization outweigh the hypothetical benefits. The more “ambitious” the climate policy, the more likely it is to damage economic growth, consumer welfare, and our institutions of self-government.[42]

Link to WebMemo in pdf format A Policy Maker’s Guide to Climate Change


Climate Change NOT as Advertised

Just before the Trudeau government imposed its Carbon Tax, it did a PR release advertising all the bad things we are doing to the planet, changing the temperature and weather by burning fossil fuels. Several skeptics pushed back (see links at end). This post is a synopsis of a complete rebuttal from Friends of Science. The whole document is interestingly written and presented, with only a few of many telling points highlighted here.

Climate Change Your Mind. Responding to the Canadian government’s “Canada’s Changing Climate Report” CCCR2019  Excerpts in italics with my bolds and headers

Federal Government says: Both past and future warming in Canada is, on average, about double the magnitude of global warming.

Friends of Science say: CCCR2019 used a reference frame that began in a cooler solar minimum and ended in a higher temperature El Nino period.

The CCCR2019 report uses 1948 as a reference point, a time when temperatures dropped significantly. Referring to this low period as a starting point gives a skewed comparison. In addition the referenced period from 1986 to 2005 ends with an El Nino year, where naturally-caused high temperatures were recorded. This gives a false impression that Canada is ‘warming faster than the rest of the world.’

Moreover, in the above graph all five major datasets show that since 2002, temperatures have Flatlined. This is despite a significant rise in carbon dioxide (CO2), shown by the upper squiggly line in the graph. The squiggles represent the seasonal rise in carbon dioxide during winter, when the great plains and forests are covered by snow, and the uptake of carbon dioxide by plants through spring and summer.

Federal Government says: Canada’s climate has warmed and will warm further in the future, driven by human influence.

Friends of Science say: CO2 Influence is not Seen in Canadian Temperature Records.

Canada has a seasonal range from cold to warm temperatures of 50°Celsius in the near land surface air temperature record. Using the recorded daily temperature minimums (TMIN) and maximums (TMAX) from 1900 to 2013 results in the red and blue colored graph above. A black line in the middle range shows the global temperature anomaly, indicating a tiny rise. At the bottom of the scale in the blue, it is clear there is a reduction in minimum temperatures (meaning overall it is less cold during coldest periods) of about 5°Celsius, but this is at the coldest end of the scale. There is no corresponding rise in the temperature maximum (which would mean hotter during the hottest times), which one is led to believe from the CCCR2019 report.

If carbon dioxide (CO2) was causing warming, it should have been visible in an increasing daytime maximum high, but there is no evidence of it.

Federal Government says: The effects of widespread warming are evident in many parts of Canada and are projected to intensify in the future.

Friends of Science say: Climate Models do not Reflect Observations.

If we are to rely on climate models for setting policy, we should expect that the models closely match observations. As you can see above, based on 102 model runs for the IPCC, the models project significant warming; the reality is that both satellite data and thousands of weather balloon records show that global warming has flatlined despite a significant rise in carbon dioxide emissions from human industry. The models did not predict this ‘hiatus. The theory of Anthropogenic Global Warming says carbon dioxide from human emissions drives warming – that is the impetus for the efforts to implement carbon taxes or invent ways to restrict or mitigate carbon dioxide emissions. The theory is flawed, as you can see above.

Federal Government says: Because of climate change, Canadians must face a ‘new reality’ that events such as spring flooding will be happening more and more frequently.

Friends of Science say: No evidence supports claiming seasonal or urban flooding is unusual.

As Dr. Madhav Khandekar, former WMO regional expert, past Environment Canada research scientist of 40 years, past IPCC expert reviewer, peer-reviewer and author of more than 150 peer-reviewed papers says that seasonal flooding in Canada is typically a combination of early warm temperatures over heavy snowpack and ice jams on rivers. If there are warm temperatures while the snowpack is still firm, the water rapidly pools and there is no open land to absorb the run-off. The flood waters often back-up, exacerbated by ice jams on rivers. This is a common occurrence throughout history, and little seems to be done by residents or municipalities to prepare for this reality. Since so many homes are on potential flood plains in Canada, shouldn’t building standards reflect this fact and municipalities require that new homes be elevated to mitigate potential damage?

CCCR2019 highlights the catastrophic southern Alberta/City of Calgary flood of 2013 as ‘probably’ caused by Anthropogenic Global Warming. This claim ignores the evidence that Calgary had eight of its worst floods prior to 1933. Had the CCCR2019 panel looked at the Calgary Public Library website or visited the Glenbow Museum, they could have seen the evidence for themselves.

Federal Government says: Coastal flooding is expected to increase in many areas of Canada due to local sea level rise.

Friends of Science say: Canadian coastlines are challenged by subsidence or erosion, not related to human-caused global warming.

Natural Resources Canada map shows regional uplift or subsidence.

However much of Canada is quite stable. In fact, due to the melting of the ice age glaciers, much of Canada’s land is in the process of isostatic rebound – a subtle, slow rise as the earth rebounds from the tremendous pressure of the kilometers of ice that once overlay our country.

CCCR2019 presumes that sea level rise from melting Greenland or Antarctic ice sheets will cause sea level rise issues to certain coastal areas in Canada, but this is not a foregone conclusion. Even if large masses of Greenland were to melt, the interior of Greenland is shaped as a bowl that would retain much of the meltwater.

As CCCR2019 notes, many northern regions of Canada are facing challenges due to permafrost melt and some communities face eroding coastlines. This may be seen as sea level rise, but it is due to subsidence or erosion, neither of which are related to human-caused global warming. In previous generations, northern residents were nomads, their ancestors simply moved camp to the most advantageous place for fishing, hunting or seasonal camping. Rather than proposing greenhouse gas emission targets, perhaps a more practical thing would be to design housing for northern communities that can be relocated. As more and more permafrost melts, more carbon dioxide and more methane will be released, however, a carbon tax will not stop that from happening. These are natural cycles. We must adapt.


Who  are you going to trust: Federal Government or Friends of Science?  Consider the evidence.


See also Climate Hearsay

About Canadian Warming: Just the Facts


At Last A Climate Policy with Teeth

Once again the UK is at the forefront in fighting climate change. Euan Mearns has the story UK Government to Announce New Energy Policies Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Amidst Brexit chaos, the Prime Minister will today introduce a white paper to Parliament detailing the Government’s new energy strategy. Stunned by criticism that she has failed to listen, the new policies will take full cognisance of the concerns recently raised by striking school children. The new policy has 4 main strands. The Downing Street press release is below the fold.

[BEGINS] In view of the grave concerns raised by 5 to 17 year old children on the impact of CO2 on Earth’s climate, Her Majesty’s government will today introduce legislation that will address the most pressing issue of our times, namely CO2 emissions and the ensuing climate mayhem that they cause (Exhibit 1, Appendix 1). CO2 has risen to record levels from 0.0280% (pre-industrial) to 0.0405% today (see endnote 1). The new energy policy has four main strands:

1. Adult only flights

As of 1 January 2020 juveniles below the age of 18 will no longer be allowed to fly on commercial flights within the UK and between the UK and foreign destinations. A reciprocal arrangement will apply to incoming flights that will not be allowed to land on British soil if there are juveniles on board. The government appreciates this will have a major impact on family holidays and tourism. But that is the policy goal. We can no longer countenance families flying all over the place simply for the sake of seeking some sunshine. Tourism is one of the most useless and resource wasteful activities known to Mankind. What is the point in wrecking Earth’s climate to go and gaze at the Eiffel Tower or to go visit Euro Disney when an equally enjoyable time can be had at our home grown attractions of the Blackpool Tower and Center Parcs (Figures 1 and 2).

The government appreciates this is going to have a catastrophic impact on the airline and airport industries. That is the whole point of the policy. We can longer countenance giving shelter to evil polluting companies on these islands. The UK will press our allies throughout the OECD to follow suit. Given time this should also have a catastrophic impact on the airliner manufacturing sectors where we expect Rolls Royce (engines) and BAE systems (wings) to be hardest hit. We point to the troubled Jaguar Landrover, caused by government policy, as a shining example of government aptitude at wrecking British industry.

2. An end to North Sea Ferries

The government is often accused of lacking foresight and we wish to stress that we are smart enough to recognise that selfish polluting families may simply try to avoid the adult only flight policy by using car ferries instead. The government sees no way of tackling this problem other than to close down all ferry services between the UK and mainland Europe, the Island of Ireland and all other destinations. Car ferries travelling between Scottish Islands comes under the jurisdiction of the Scottish Parliament.

The activity of transporting a two tonne SUV on board a ship running on filthy dirty bunker fuel needs to be consigned to history. The idea of families boarding a ship to simply drive around Europe looking at stuff, while wrecking Earth’s climate, needs to be stopped.

The government is aware that these policies may seem to be anti-tourism. Nothing could be further from the truth. We remain committed to a robust, albeit crippled, tourist industry. British children will simply need to learn how to enjoy beach holidays at home (Figure 3). And to prove this point, children will still be allowed to travel to Europe on all electric Eurostar trains. And really rich families will even be allowed to take cars with them, so long as they are all-electric vehicles.

3. An end to driving to School

With immediate effect, the UK Government is to introduce a ban on children being driven to school by their parents in petrol or diesel cars. We will continue to allow children of very wealthy families to be driven to school in all-electric vehicles. Hybrid plugin electric vehicles will not face an immediate ban but will be phased out over three years.

To enforce this ban children will be encouraged to spy on their friends (or enemies) by taking pictures of children covertly being dropped off just around the corner and sharing these images on social media. This should create a deterrent to illegal child dropping.

4. Phasing out of gas or oil heating systems in schools

In keeping with the recently announced policy of the Dutch Government to phase out natural gas all together and the allied UK policy of ceasing to build homes with gas central heating, the government will bring forward a bill to phase out gas or oil heating systems in all our schools by 2022. Schools will instead by obliged to install all-electric heating that runs exclusively on in-situ, off-grid, renewable energy systems. Using the latest SMART technology it is anticipated that this should be simple and straightforward to achieve.

Here’s the clever part. Children of all ages (5 to 17) will be allowed to participate in designing these SMART heating systems. The Government does not have spare funds to support this initiative so schools will have to pay for it out of existing budgets. However, since renewable energy prices have tumbled, paying for this should not be a problem. If schools struggle to meet this bill, they will be encouraged to either lay-off staff or ask parents to pay for this vital flagship policy. [ENDS]

Thank you Euan.  There is no fool like a Climate Fool today or all year round.



Transferring Wealth to Tesla Owners

Why governments should not subsidize the purchase of electric cars.  Montreal Economic Institute explains at the Newswire  Over $220 million in subsidies… for very little impact on the environment. Excerpts in italics with my bolds

Since 2012, Quebec has spent more than $220 million in subsidies to “encourage” the purchase of electric vehicles. This spending will continue, since the government has extended this program for two more years. Yet as the MEI has been saying for some time, not only is such a public policy very expensive, it also has very little impact on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Indeed, even if Quebec were to achieve its objective of having a million fully electric vehicles on its roads by 2030—which is twenty times more than it has now—this would only reduce our GHG emissions by 3.6% compared to the current level.

“It’s a pure waste!” argues Germain Belzile, Senior Associate Researcher at the MEI. “And that’s not including the $300 million in purchase subsidies that the federal government just announced, plus the hundreds of millions that Quebec and Ottawa are going to spend to develop the network of charging stations. All of this for a minimal result in terms of emission reductions.”

Up until now, the $8,600 subsidy granted by Quebec cost taxpayers a little under $300 per tonne of GHGs not emitted. With the new $5,000 federal subsidy, the cost per tonne of GHGs not emitted jumps to over $450, namely 23 times the carbon market price or the federal tax amount.

“The cost of the subsidy is very high when you consider that in Quebec, with the carbon market, the cost to avoid emitting one tonne of GHGs is actually around $20,” explains Mr. Belzile. “Think about it: You can choose between a cost of $450 or $20, for two policies that have the same objective.”

Moreover, it must be noted that these funds largely benefit people who would have bought an electric car even without subsidies, and that these same buyers are part of the richest one fifth of society. Also, a non-negligible portion of subsidies are captured by automobile manufacturers in the form of higher prices, as shown in the United States by Tesla’s recent price cut following the reduction of the federal credit.

All of these public expenditures are a pure loss: Studies predict that the prices of electric cars will be competitive with those of gas-powered cars as of 2024—without subsidies—and that they will then continue to decrease, achieving parity before the end of the decade, with the cost of batteries continuing to fall.

“Our governments should eliminate the subsidy programs without delay, since Quebec and Canada have already set a price for carbon. And as argued by the latest economist to win the Nobel Prize, William Nordhaus, such a price mechanism should replace all subsidies that have the same goal. It’s just common sense,” concludes Mr. Belize.

The MEI is an independent public policy think tank. Through its publications and media appearances, the MEI stimulates debate on public policies in Quebec and across Canada by proposing reforms based on market principles and entrepreneurship.

SOURCE Montreal Economic Institute

Going Dutch: How Not to Cut Emissions

Everyone knows the Dutch are serious and determined people.  Their saying: “God created the earth, but the Dutch created the Netherlands.”  A relative of mine had some run-ins with Dutch neighbors, and his saying about them:  “Wooden shoes, wooden heads, wouldn’t listen.”  Well, now the Dutch have another saying:  “Whatever you do, don’t try to cut carbon emissions the way we did.”

You see, being Dutch they took on the challenge of “fighting climate change,” and are now living to regret their actions.  Karel Beckman writes in Natural Gas World  The Flaws in Dutch Climate Policy Mar 20, 2019.  H/T GWPF  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Why should the wisdom of Dutch climate policy be of concern to anyone besides Dutch taxpayers? At this moment all developed countries are entering a new phase in their climate policies. They are moving beyond broad reduction targets and temperature goals to the nitty-gritty of real climate measures and tough choices. The debate is not anymore about whether to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, or even by how much, but how.

From this point on there are still many different roads into the future. The Dutch example is instructive because we are talking about a wealthy, urban, industrialised country – a self-proclaimed climate leader within the European Union. A country moreover that has decided to phase out the use of “unabated” natural gas for the sake of the climate. Yet its climate policies for cutting greenhouse gas emissions are full of flaws.

The Climate Accord, the result of months of negotiations between labour unions, non-governmental organisations, business associations, local authorities and other civil society groups, which will serve as the basis for the Dutch National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP) that all EU member states have to submit to the European Commission at the end of this year, contains a large number of more or less concrete proposals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

PBL and CPB have analysed the effect these proposals are likely to have on emission reductions and at what likely cost. The PBL report and the CPB report are therefore key inputs in the political decision-making process, turning the Climate Accord into law.

What the two reports show – even though their authors don’t say so explicitly and even if the general media did not notice anything amiss – is that Dutch climate policies are full of contradictions, inefficiencies and question-marks that should serve as a warning to energy policy-makers and stakeholders everywhere.

Here are my own seven Troubling Takeaways from the PBL and CPB reports.

1. The cost of climate policies: anyone’s guess

Robert Koelemeijer, researcher at PBL and one of the authors of the new report, says in a telephone interview: “It has proved to be very difficult to distinguish between the costs of the energy system as such, and the additional costs as a result of past climate and energy policies. But it is a question we get more often and one that we do want to take a look at this year.”

Earlier this year, a group of critics – Theo Wolters, Stijn Santen, Hans Keuken, Evert van der Pol and Marcel Crok – published a report, “De kosten van het Energieakkoord” (“The costs of the Energy Accord”), which attempts to calculate the costs of the measures decided on in an earlier piece of climate legislation, called the Energy Accord, in 2013.

Wolters, one of the authors, tells me it is reasonable to assume that this Energy Accord, which was actually adopted by the government and is being implemented, represents the major part of the “reference scenario” that PBL refers to.

According to Wolters et al., the Energy Accord will cost Dutch society over €100bn, measured over a period of 35 years, to which the costs of the Climate Accord must now be added. Their report has been criticised by various experts. Koelemeijer says: “There are some aspects about it that we don’t agree with. We are planning to analyse it in more detail.”

On the other hand, €100bn, over 35 years, does not seem so incredible. Thus, for example, the Dutch General Accounting Office (“Algemene Rekenkamer”), again an official government institution, calculated in April 2015 that the costs of renewable energy subsidies alone could amount to some €80bn by 2030. (You can find the GAO report by following this link, click on the download, see page 15-16. Again, all in Dutch, I’m afraid.)

Renewable energy subsidies are of course only part of the total costs of climate policy – according to the critics roughly half of the total.

2. The poor will pay

More important perhaps is that CPB concludes that lower income groups (especially lower middle income groups) have to pay relatively more as a result of current climate policies than higher income groups. Welfare recipients and pensioners, says CPB, are hit hardest of all.

On average, households will see their income reduced by 1.3% as a result of all climate measures together, notes CPB, ranging from 0.8% for the highest income groups to 1.8% for the lowest income groups. To this should be added another 0.4% income loss on average as a result of climate policies in other EU countries and of companies charging their climate costs to consumers.

3. The built environment: minimal results

One of the most complex and controversial elements in Dutch climate policy is the goal to disconnect all houses and buildings from the gas grid by 2050. Currently 98% of all buildings are connected to the gas grid. . . Of the more than 7mn buildings that will be affected, 1.5mn should be “off gas” by 2030, according to the Climate Accord. As noted above, CPB does not calculate the costs of this gigantic operation. PBL does this however and concludes (on p. 67) that with the measures in the Climate Accord some 250,000 to 1,070,000 buildings could be made “gas-free” (rather than 1.5mn). The net “national costs” of this operation would only be €75mn to €90mn, according to PB.

Theo Wolters, one of the authors of the critical report, notes that according to a 2018 study of the independent think tank EIB (“Economisch Instituut voor de Bouw” – Economic Institute for the Building Sector), the average cost of going off gas will be €32,638/house. This will save on average €623/yr in gas use. That adds up to much higher national costs.

Troubling me much more, the PBL study shows that the measures taken in the built environment do only very little to reduce CO2 emissions. The Climate Accord is split up into five sectors: electricity generation, industry, transport, agriculture and environment. If it is carried out, PBL calculates, total emissions will go down between 31 and 52 megatons (Mt). Of this total, the electricity sector will contribute 18.3-21.0 Mt, industry between 6 and 13.9 Mt, mobility 4.2-8.0 Mt, agriculture 1.8-4.6 Mt and the built environment a paltry 0.8-3.7 Mt.

In other words, the Netherlands is contemplating a complete overhaul of the existing building stock with only a modest effect on its greenhouse gas emissions.

4. Waterbed effects: cutting carbon emissions in one place means they can rise elsewhere, unless the cap comes down.

Wolters and his co-authors, in their critical report, provide a withering analysis of the waterbed effects of Dutch climate policy. They calculate that of 32 Mt of emission reductions which the Netherlands wants to achieve by 2020, 79% fall under the ETS system. The non-ETS part is almost all based on the use of biomass, a questionable method (see below). Just 0.6 Mt of the 32 Mt falls outside of the ETS and is not related to biomass.

Wolters notes that CPB and the University of Groningen have long ago warned about the waterbed effect of the ETS, with the recommendation to “put off building expensive offshore wind parks in the North Sea” as long as their emission reductions would benefit coal power producers in Poland and elsewhere. “The same ton of CO2 that we don’t emit and which costs us on average €88, can be bought by a coal power producer in eastern Europe for €5 to €25”, they write.The ETS carbon price is now much higher but nowhere near €88/mt.

5. Biomass: what is it good for?

This table shows that biomass is the single most expensive measure – yet as PBL itself notes, its effectiveness is surrounded by “many uncertainties”.

By the way, in the Netherlands burning wood in wood stoves and fireplaces also counts as “renewable energy”. The Netherlands has a 14% renewable energy target for 2020, of which almost 1 percentage point will be reached by people using their wood stoves and fireplaces!

6. Jobs: no effect

Renewable energy is often credited for providing jobs – a questionable defence in itself, since “providing jobs” is not the same thing as “contributing to economic growth”. On the contrary, if switching to renewable energy leads to many more people being employed in energy generation, this is a net economic loss to society, not a gain.

But not to worry: CPB concludes (on p. 11) that climate and energy policy in the Netherlands has “transition effects”, but “in the longer term the net effects on employment are marginal”. The renewable energy job machine simply does not exist.

7. In the end: coming up short

After all is said and done, and ignoring waterbed effects, biomass doubts and the like, what is also striking is that the measures in the Climate Accord don’t even deliver the official target of 48.7 Mt of reductions in 2030. PBL concludes (p. 9) that if all the proposed measures are carried out, emissions will be reduced by between 31 Mt and 52 Mt, adding that “the target of 48.7 Mt will most likely not be met”.

Indeed, there are other “uncertainties” which could even result in emission reductions outside of the 31-52 Mt range, notes PBL, for example, unexpected deviations in “economic growth, energy prices, technology developments and developments in other countries.”


The most important one I think is that climate policy – any climate policy – is not a done deal. On the contrary, the real hard choices have only just arrived on our doorstep. There are many questions, such as, what are the most cost-effective and efficient measures. Not only in the Netherlands – other countries will face the same issues.

Two key issues that need to receive a lot more attention are the effects of EU climate policy, which right now are an afterthought in the Netherlands and in other EU member states, whereas they clearly should be a starting point; and the wisdom of using renewable energy targets alongside CO2-targets. Wolters and the other critics of Dutch climate policy observe that the Dutch government initially wisely focused on CO2-targets, but then enthusiastically endorsed a new renewable energy target agreed upon by the EU of 32% in 2030. This, they say, means that CO2-reduction will be achieved “through relatively expensive options”.

The climate policy debate? It has only just started.

The Dutch also invented a word: Poppycock, (ˈpäpēˌkäk/) informal noun meaning nonsense.
Synonyms: nonsense, rubbish, claptrap, balderdash, blather, moonshine, garbage;
Origin: mid 19th century: from Dutch dialect pappekak, from pap ‘soft’ + kak ‘dung.’

Reprinted below is a previous post Green Electrical Shocks providing a Dutch analysis with a dash of humor.

One year ago, a weekly Sunday news program aired in the Netherlands on the titled subject. H/T Climate Scepticism. The video clip is below with English subtitles. For those who prefer reading, I provide the substantial excerpts from the program with my bolds.

How many of you have Green Electricity? I will estimate 69%
And how much nationally? Oh, 69%!
So we are very average, and in a good way, because the climate is very important.

Let me ask: Green electricity comes from . . .?
Yes, electricity produced from windmills and solar panels.
Nearly 2/3 of the Dutch are using it. That’s the image.

Well I have green news and bad news.
The green news: Well done!
The bad news: It is all one big lie.
Time for the Green Electrical Shocks.

Shock #1: The green electricity from your socket is not green.
When I switched to green electricity I was very proud.
I thought, Yes, well done! The climate is getting warmer, but not any more thanks to me.

Well, that turned out to be untrue.
All producers deliver to one communal grid. Green and grey electricity all mix.
The electricity you use is always a mix of various sources.
OK. It actually makes sense not to have separate green and grey cables for every house.
So it means that of all electricity, 69% is produced in a sustainable way. But then:

Shock #2: Green Electricity is mostly fake.
Most of the green electricity we think we use comes from abroad.
You may think: So what. Green is green.

But that electricity doesn’t come from abroad, it stays abroad.
If you have green electricity at home, it may mean nothing more than that your supplier has bought “green electricity certificates”.

In Europe green electricity gets an official certificate,
Instead of selling on the electricity, they sell on those certificates.
Norway, with its hydro power, has a surplus of certificates.
Dutch suppliers buy them on a massive scale, while the electricity stays in Norway.

The idea was: if countries can sell those certificates, they can make money by producing more green electricity.
But the Norwegians don’t produce more green electricity.
But they do sell certificates.

The Dutch suppliers wave with those certificates, and say Look! Our grey electricity is green.
Only one country has produced green electricity: Norway.
But two countries take the credit.
Norway, because they produce green electricity, and the Netherlands because, on paper, we have green electricity. Get it? That’s a nice deal.

More and more countries sell those certificates. Italy is now the top supplier.
We buy fake green electricity from Italy, like some kind of Karma ham.

Now, let’s look again at the green electricity we all think we use.
So the real picture isn’t 69%. If you cancel the certificates, only 21% of electricity is really green.
Nowadays you can even order it separately if you don’t want to be part of that Norway certificates scam.
You may think: 21% green is still quite a lot. But it is time for:

Shock #3: Not all energy is electricity.
If you talk about the climate, you shouldn’t just consider electricity but all energy.
When you look at all energy, like factories, cars, trains, gas fires, then the share of consumer electricity is virtually nothing.
If you include everything in your calculation, it turns out that only 6% of all the energy we use in the Netherlands is green. It is a comedy, but wait:

Trees converted into pellets by means of petroleum powered machinery.

Shock #4: Most green energy doesn’t come from sun or wind, like you might think.
Even the 6%, our last green hope, is fake. According to the CBS we are using more sun and wind energy, but most of the green energy is produced by the burning of biomass.
Ah, more than half of the 6% green energy is biomass.

Ridiculous. What is biomass really? It is organic materials that we encounter every day.
Like the content of a compost heap. How about maize leaves or hay?
The idea behind burning organic materials is that it will grow up again.
So CO2 is released when you burn it, but it will be absorbed again by new trees.

However, there is one problem. The forest grows very slowly and our power plants burn very fast.
This is the fatal flaw in the thinking about biomass. Power plants burn trees too fast, so my solution: slow fire. Disadvantage: it doesn’t exist. So this is our next shock.

Shock#5: Biomass isn’t all that sustainable.
It’s getting worse. There aren’t enough trees in the Netherlands for biomass.
We can’t do it on our own. We don’t have enough wood, so we get it from America.

In the USA forests are cut at a high rate, Trees are shredded and compressed into pellets.
These are shipped to the Netherlands and end up in the ovens of the coal plants.
It’s a disaster for the American forests, according to environmental groups.

So we transport American forests on diesel ships to Europe.
Then throw them in the oven because it officially counts as green energy.
Only because the CO2 released this way doesn’t count for our total emissions.

In reality biomass emits more CO2 than natural gas and coal.
These are laws of nature, no matter what European laws say.
At the bottom line, how much sustainable energy do we really have in the Netherlands?
Well, the only real green energy from windmills, solar panels etc. Is only 2.2%. of all the energy we use.

In Conclusion
So the fact that 2/3 of the audience and of all Dutch people use green electricity means absolutely nothing. It’s only 2.2%, and crazier still, the government says it should be at 14% by 2020.
They promised: to us, to Europe, to planet Earth: 14 instead of 2.2.

Instead of making a serious attempt to save the climate, they are only working on accounting tricks, like buying pieces of paper in Norway and burning American forests.
They are only saving the climate on paper.

Summary Comment

As the stool above shows, the climate change package sits on three premises. The first is the science bit, consisting of an unproven claim that observed warming is caused by humans burning fossil fuels. The second part rests on impact studies from billions of research dollars spent uncovering any and all possible negatives from warming. And the third leg is climate policies showing how governments can “fight climate change.”

It is refreshing to see more and more articles by people reasoning about climate change/global warming and expressing rational positions. Increasingly, analysts are unbundling the package and questioning not only the science, but also pointing out positives from CO2 and warming.  And as the Dutch telecast shows, ineffective government policies are also fair game.

More on flawed climate policies at Reasoning About Climate

Realistic Alternative to Green New Deal


Alex Berezow takes up the challenge from factually-challenged AOC in his article at American Council on Science and Health Okay, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Here’s An Alternative To Green New Deal Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Does all that sound ridiculously arrogant and scientifically illiterate? Of course it does. Yet, that’s basically how new Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) has responded to the critics of her Green New Deal. We’re all idiots. She’s a visionary.  

AOC’s remark to “come up with your own ambitious, on-scale proposal” is precisely the sort of uneducated statement a person who knows literally nothing about a topic says. It’s reminiscent of the anti-vaxxers who say, “If vaccines are so safe, show me the evidence!” There are entire research papers and books dedicated to energy policy. AOC just hasn’t bothered to read any of them.

As it turns out, the solution to climate change isn’t all that complicated. It won’t be accomplished in 12 years; we couldn’t even rebuild the World Trade Center in 12 years. But it can be done. I wrote a brief, 550-word article that gives a general outline. If even that’s too long, here’s the TL;DR version. [ I had to look it up; TL:DR means Too Long; Didn’t Read]

  1. Start building Generation IV nuclear power plants right now. Not next year. Not tomorrow. Right now. They are meltdown-proof and the best source of carbon-free energy on the planet. Research suggests that the entire world could be on nuclear power within 25 years.
  2. In the meantime, phase out coal while embracing natural gas. Natural gas burns cleaner than coal. If you object to this, then do #1 faster.
  3. Upgrade our energy infrastructure with a smart grid, smart meters, better capacitors, and better transmission lines. All of this is necessary if we want to rely at least in part on solar and wind. (But solar and wind aren’t really necessary; see #1.)
  4. Invest in solar and fusion power research. Current solar technology is too inefficient. The breakthrough we’ve been seeking in solar hasn’t happened yet, but it could. Similarly, fusion is theoretically the best source of energy (even better than nuclear), but scientists haven’t figured this one out yet. It turns out that recreating the sun on earth is kind of hard.
  5. As our energy infrastructure improves, electric car technology will improve along with it, making fossil fuels largely obsolete. (Airplanes might always need fossil fuels, though, much to AOC’s chagrin.)

That’s it. It’s not a sexy plan, but it’s a realistic one. We could actually accomplish this, but so far, there has been no political will whatsoever to do it. Oddly, the biggest opponents are environmentalists, people like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Congressional Climate Resolution

The current world political climate is shame-and-blame in order to gain approvals for drastic reduction of CO2. Thus pressure is applied to political officials at every level to show their colors on acting to “fight climate change.”  The so-called Green New Deal will apparently be put as a resolution for the House to vote its approval of the concept.  It seems timely to propose an alternative resolution.

There is no place to hide these days, and politicians who have a rational position on climate science 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 within the range of historical variability;

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.


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.


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)


The Carbon Tax Shell Game


James Taylor explains current efforts to distract us with a tricky proposal. A ‘Revenue Neutral’ Carbon Tax Is a Costly Myth.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and other media outlets are reporting that a bipartisan group of top economic advisors has signed a statement supporting a carbon dioxide tax that returns all revenue to the American people. Prominent signatories include Alan Greenspan, Paul Volcker, and Ben Bernanke. Expect this to be a big messaging point in the weeks and months ahead for global warming activists.

More atmospheric carbon dioxide and gradually warming temperatures have brought net benefits to human health and welfare. Yet economists like Greenspan and Bernanke, who received appointments from Republican presidents, often make the argument that they are not scientists and they are merely crafting the best economic solution to a problem that most scientists say we need to address. Even if these economists remain unconvinced that carbon dioxide emissions and modest global warming bring net benefits, there are crucial flaws in their argument for a ‘revenue neutral’ carbon dioxide tax.

Here are the three biggest flaws of a ‘revenue neutral’ carbon dioxide tax designed to appeal to Republicans and conservatives:

1. A carbon dioxide tax may be crafted to be government revenue neutral, but it cannot be crafted to be household revenue neutral. The intent and impact of a carbon dioxide tax is to raise the price of coal, natural gas, and gasoline to the point that they are more expensive than high-priced wind power, solar power, and electric vehicles powered by wind and solar. When this happens, consumers will be purchasing wind and solar power that is much more expensive than what they presently pay for coal, natural gas, and gasoline. Consumers will therefore be forced to spend substantially more money on energy and energy-related bills. Yet the wind and solar industries will pay no carbon dioxide taxes, meaning a ‘successful’ carbon dioxide tax that dramatically reduces carbon dioxide emissions will collect little tax revenue and thereafter return little money to the people. This would be ‘revenue neutral’ for government, but households will see dramatic declines in discretionary income as a result of their uncompensated higher energy bills.

2. Republicans and conservatives are negotiating against themselves, in vain, when they advocate a ‘revenue neutral’ carbon dioxide tax. Democrats, environmental activist groups, and the political Left have made it clear that they will not support or accept a ‘revenue neutral’ carbon dioxide tax. They proved this point in the state of Washington in 2016 when a ‘revenue neutral’ carbon dioxide tax was put on the ballot with support from many establishment Republicans. Democrats, environmental activist groups, and the political Left opposed the ballot initiative, stating they would only support a carbon dioxide tax that authorized government to keep the tax revenues and direct the revenue to causes supported by the environmental Left. As a result – and thankfully – the ballot initiative failed.

3. Even if Democrats, environmental activist groups, and the political Left suddenly began to support a ‘revenue neutral’ carbon dioxide tax, they would only support such a tax in addition to, rather than instead of, expensive, intrusive, command-and-control schemes. As I noted in a recent Heartland Institute Policy Brief, “Prominent global warming activist David Roberts noted in Vox that CO2 taxes ‘are good policy, an important part of the portfolio, but unlikely ever to be sufficient on their own. It’s worth getting a price on carbon anywhere it can be gotten, but climate hawks should not believe, and definitely shouldn’t be saying in public, that a carbon price is enough …’ [emphasis in the original].” I also noted from Bill McKibben, “We need to do everything. Not just a price on carbon, but dramatic subsidies for renewables to speed their spread. Not just a price on carbon, but an end to producing coal and gas and oil on public land. Not just a price on carbon, but a ban on fracking, which is sending clouds of methane into the atmosphere. Not just a price on carbon, but a dozen other major regulatory changes.”

Not only would a carbon dioxide tax be economically destructive, but Republicans and conservatives who are duped into supporting such a scheme will be getting something entirely different than what is being advertised.

See Also Carbon Pricing Angst

Money goes back to provinces, says Trudeau. Trudeau has said that the tax will start at a minimum of $10 a tonne in 2019, rising by $10 each year to $50 a tonne by 2022. “The government of Canada will return all of the money collected back to Canadians,” Trudeau said.  October 23, 2018