Archive for the ‘Climate policy’ Category
A couple of my recent forays into the media have provoked comment below the articles themselves and in emails sent querying particular points. They are worth unpacking because they reflect on the different between the straight communication of science and framing risk.
One was in reference to a recent op-ed in The Age. In it, I said:
If people accept the 0.0038 and 0.02 degree benefits as valid then they also accept the science behind a 5.3 degrees warming for business as usual (As in the emission scenario created by Treasury for the 2008 Garnaut Review). Who wants to live in a world warming by 5 degrees or more? Major food crops could not be grown in many parts of the world, projected sea level rise would be tens of metres, most of the shelled species in the ocean would not survive, ecosystems would be disrupted as the pace of change outstripped their ability to adapt and millions to billions of people would lose environmental security leading to mass migrations never before seen.
That prompted an email from an earth scientist wanting to know what peer-reviewed reference I was using for the projected tens of metres of sea level rise. I sent back this now famous diagram and a note saying that I wasn’t putting it on a timetable. He then replied suggesting that people could be misled into thinking that the date was 2100 (because that was tied to the two temperature measures) and that I was being alarmist. Because it would take thousands of years to be realised. Read the rest of this entry »
For those who didn’t catch it, during the week an op-ed of mine was Climate Policy will Stay a Mystery until Silent Specialists Join the Debate was published in The Age. It was based on an earlier post where I detailed the benefits of Australia’s climate policy and the tricks used by opponents to make it look more ineffective than it is likely to be. In the op-ed I ask where are the barefoot economists who will challenge untrue statements about climate and the economy? Text reproduced below (with small edits for clarity).
Little by little: the benefits of Australian climate policy
By Roger Jones, Victoria University
A catchment threatened by salinity can’t be repaired by one or two landholders. Revegetation designed to lower watertables has its greatest ecological benefit where the plants are, but its net impact on salinity is small and spread over a much larger area. To achieve catchment-wide benefits, many good neighbours need to pay a small amount towards revegetation, with everyone contributing according to their capacity. Landcare – an idea invented in Australia and exported overseas – works exactly on that basis. It is supported by all major political parties, and many Landcare programs are funded by the taxpayer.
For climate, any action to permanently reduce greenhouse gas emissions in one region spreads the benefits across the globe. A global effort requires many good neighbours amongst countries who may not know each other well or trust each other very much. Read the rest of this entry »
The Age cartoonist John Spooner returned to climate policy this weekend. I won’t have go at Spooner as I did after last weekend’s effort but I will discuss his theme. Spooner maintains that the carbon tax and GST double up, giving the example of a little boy with his lawyer trying to avoid a shopkeeper double taxing his chocolate. What Spooner is doing here – to put a generous point on it – is to reflect what many people are thinking.
So how realistic is this scenario? On Friday, the Minister for Climate Change Greg Combet and the assistant treasurer David Bradbury issued a joint statement that GST does not apply to the $23 per tonne price of permits. This avoids double taxation where GST is charged on GST (which they shouldn’t be anyway). Where permits are given free, the prices will not be carried through, limiting its effect. I can’t see however, that GST won’t be levied on general goods and services as reported here. But these numbers will be comparatively small. Read the rest of this entry »
John Spooner, cartoonist for The Age has fired his latest salvo in his war on climate policy in yesterday’s (7-7-2012) paper. It mentions me so I feel obliged to provide a response. J’accuse Spooner of being a propagandist.
Yep, that’s me down by the *. Quoted as measuring Australia’s policy impact as being 0.0038°C in 2100. Which would happen if Australia was to reduce its emissions by 5% from 2000 by 2020 and maintain that until 2100. But is this cartoon an accurate and amusing reflection of the conversation Gillard would have with her imaginary friend? Well yes, until the fourth panel. Then it falls away — and that’s worth a bit of scrutiny. And he gets IPCC wrong. What is the IPPC? Read the rest of this entry »
Thanks all for your comments to the last post, which didn’t really explain my absence, but now the world hasn’t ended…
Thinking about it, there were a few reasons as to why this blog went a bit quiet. A short list, then you can bother me to give further updates on some of these matters, because they are of interest.
- Early May was taken up with the writing and submission of the IPCC Working Group II First Order Draft. A frantic few weeks as the coauthors of the chapter Foundations of Decision-making worked hard to get a complete draft. The report is now in review and if readers are feeling a bit expertised, instructions for registering can be found here.
- Then straight to Den Haag, The Netherlands for a meeting on the new emission scenarios process, specifically on the shared socio-economic pathways that are being developed. These will contribute to new scenarios involving climate, social and economic change for modelling by research groups around the world. The topic was how to linked the needs of integrated assessment modelling with impacts, adaptation and vulnerability research. A summary presentation given to the UNFCCC by meeting organiser Tom Kram just afterwards can be found here (pdf).
- A week back to catch up with a few things, then off the Adaptation Futures conference in Tucson Arizona. Second international conference after the one on the Gold Coast two years ago. The research is slowly becoming more developed as research and implementation are becoming more closely linked. I spoke on what non-linear climate change means for adaptation and hired a road bike for the week, climbing this big mountain (except I rode from the centre of town, not the foot of the climb). Turned out it was maybe Tucson’s hottest day ever measured. Have a few pics of the Sonora Desert that I’ll upload when there’s a bit of spare time.
- Then back in Australia, attended a design charrette in Sea Lake, northern Victoria as we talked adaptation with the locals. A really interesting 24 hours – the locals have been really resilient over time but are still suffering loss of population due to underlying economic drivers. Capacity building in local government is a key issue. Telling stories about climate giving a “deep” history of change over time is much better to feed into discussion than presenting facts and figures (though it’s good to have them in publications to give away).
- Gave a talk on 19 June on the Ecology of the City, for a series of talkes hosted by Geoff Lacey at the Augustine Centre in Hawthorne on sustainability. Another “deep history” of Melbourne as a meeting place, from geology and biodiversity, to people and climate.
- Still back in town, wrote a context paper on adaptation and industry with Celeste Young in preparation for the Victorian Centre for Climate Change Adaptation Research annual forum Monday June 25, which was closely followed by the NCCARF national conference Climate Adaptation in Action 2012. This conference was also pretty big showcasing the work that’s going on in Australia, where research and practise are also coming closer together, though there’s a way to go. At both events we showed that it’s possible to have fun and engage serious topics, with a hypothetical orgnaised by the Environmental Defenders Office and hosted by Rob Gell on the Monday (I was a green developer in 2032) and an intelligent squared debate on Wednesday set up by Kate Auty, Commissioner of Sustainability for Victoria. The latter on science policy got into a number of issues that are exercising state of the art research, but in an entertaining manner. Down with boring panels, I say.
- Next week is the 41st Australian Conference of Economists here at Victoria University. I’m on a boring panel on climate change which will be a little less boring as I castigate economists for not communicating their discipline effectively, especially when it comes to the economics of climate change.
Can post presentations from these events and will put up links when the conference material becomes public. Of course, I need to produce and bury a huge amount of compost to offset those flights (beyond the offsets I’ve already purchased), but that amount of travelling is not normal for me – I’m usually on a bike, not in a plane. Got a lung infection on the way back from the States that required a tonne of antibiotics – not blaiming my trashing of my immune system due to climbing big mountains, though. So that’s why no posts for a bit – better now: good to be back on the bike.
I’m sure I did not change her mind, but I hope she saw that not all sceptics are mad, bad and dangerous; that there remains a lively scientific debate about the drivers of climate change; and that scaremongering about global warming is backfiring on the warmists.
He goes on to say that of Lomborg’s cornucopian solution:
Lomborg instead advocates significant global investment in green energy research and development in order to make green energy so cheap that everyone will want it.
Now, that I can support. If there is to be any common ground between sceptics and warmists, this surely must be it. Let’s work to make green energy a realistic, affordable alternative, instead of stupidly trying to make conventional energy so incredibly expensive that we will stop using it.
Both the Victorian and Queensland governments have recently announced they are dropping emissions targets set within state climate change legislation. They say that the presence of national targets make state targets redundant. Alan Pears, writing in The Conversation disagrees. He says that because of flaws within the federal legislation there is no incentive beyond doing the bare minimum:
The Commonwealth Government’s Clean Energy Future scheme design is flawed. I, along with Richard Denniss from the Australia Institute, the Voluntary Carbon Markets Association and others have been pointing out this flaw and showing how it could be fixed, for over three years.
The problem is that if a state government, council, business or household voluntarily cuts its emissions beyond what it is legally required to do (for example, under building energy regulations), this simply frees up more permits for other emitters to use, so their efforts don’t cut the total amount of carbon emissions. But Canberra econocrats and politicians have simply turned deaf ears.
The frustrating thing is that this flaw is easily fixed.
Living Treasure Clive Palmer told the ABC’s 7:30 Report last night that he intended to challenge the government’s carbon legislation on the basis of a constitutional challenge to its tax status:
CLIVE PALMER: Well, our advice is that the carbon tax in its current form is unconstitutional, and that’s recognised in the legislation itself when it says it’s found to be unconstitutional, the Government will (inaudible) us through other acts – that’s in the legislation.
CHRIS UHLMANN: On what grounds is it unconstitutional?
CLIVE PALMER: Well the grounds are set out in legal advice and they’ll be coming in the High Court.
Last Friday, the Wall Street Journal published a letter from 16 scientists entitled: No Need to Panic About Global Warming: There’s no compelling scientific argument for drastic action to ‘decarbonize’ the world’s economy.
They tried to revivify a number of zombies.
- Objecting to the statement that ”The evidence is incontrovertible: Global warming is occurring” from the American Physical Society’s climate policy statement. Apparently, nothing in science is incontrovertible, not even data trending in one direction. The APS added a commentary “However, the word “incontrovertible” in the first sentence of the second paragraph of the 2007 APS statement is rarely used in science because by its very nature science questions prevailing ideas. The observational data indicate a global surface warming of 0.74 °C (+/- 0.18 °C) since the late 19th century.” Incontrovertible means there is no evidence to the contrary.
- The lack of warming over the past decade zombie.
- The CO2 is not a pollutant zombie.
- The de Freitas / Climate Research affair zombie, where a paper by Soon and Baliunas that de Freitas edited claimed that the recent warming was not unusual in the context of the past 1,000 years which they called a politically incorrect (but factually correct) conclusion. Unfortunately the paper was not factually correct and should not have been published. The Editor in Chief and three associate editors resigned, leading the publishers to revamp the journal, de Freitas losing his editorial position in the process.
- The climate change – Lysenkoism zombie.
- Climate science is at the trough zombie (follow the money).
They also claimed:
A recent study of a wide variety of policy options by Yale economist William Nordhaus showed that nearly the highest benefit-to-cost ratio is achieved for a policy that allows 50 more years of economic growth unimpeded by greenhouse gas controls.
Andrew Revkin of New York Times blog Dot Earth posted a response by Nordhaus:
The piece completely misrepresented my work. My work has long taken the view that policies to slow global warming would have net economic benefits, in the trillion of dollars of present value. This is true going back to work in the early 1990s (MIT Press, Yale Press, Science, PNAS, among others). I have advocated a carbon tax for many years as the best way to attack the issue. I can only assume they either completely ignorant of the economics on the issue or are willfully misstating my findings.