Understanding Climate Risk

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Archive for the ‘Economics’ Category

Benefits of Oz climate policy on The Conversation

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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 »

Spooner again

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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.

Illustration: John Spooner

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 »

Written by Roger Jones

July 15, 2012 at 3:05 am

July Update

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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.

The End of the World

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This blog has been silent for longer than I’d like to recall (*crickets*), but I really did think that I wasn’t going to wake up this morning, or if I did, it would be in limbo.

See, the world ended today July 1, 2012 because the carbon levy came into being. Maybe it’s been put off until tomorrow when the markets open. This will be the next shock that brings the global economy to its knees.

Independent Australia has got it about right, posting the end of the world under satire. Terry McCrann, who continually satirises himself (and amuses me no end), writes in the Hun today: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Roger Jones

July 1, 2012 at 12:00 pm

Nope – I can’t change your mind on climate

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So after last night’s ABC program I Can Change Your Mind on … Climate live blogged here, the answer is a resounding “No, You Can’t”. Minchin in an op-ed in The Age/SMH:

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

I can change your mind on climate – live blog

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Welcome to the live blog for I Can Change Your Mind About … Climate on ABC1 from 8:30 pm AEST. From the show’s blurb:

Separated by a generation, and divided by their beliefs, two passionate, intelligent and successful Australians go on a journey of mutual discovery to see if they can change each other’s minds about the most divisive issue in Australia today: climate change.

It’s a pity we don’t have cards for climate change bingo to mark off squares for “It hasn’t warmed since 1998”, “scientists are only in it for the grant money”, “the temperature record cannot be believed” and so on. Likewise, I don’t recommend drinking games. You’ll be on your ear by 9. Read the rest of this entry »

Planet under Pressure – republished at the Conversation

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Planet under Pressure 2012: here’s the wrap

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Questions of planetary power: a mere 0.3% of transnational corporations control 40% of global revenue. Flickr/paul (dex)

The Planet Under Pressure 2012 Conference was held in London a fortnight back and released the first State of the Planet Declaration. The conference aim was to set out the science (in a broad sense) in the run-up to the UN Rio+20 conference. The recommendations in the statement have been passed onto the Secretary-General of the UN, Ban Ki-moon, who has agreed to take them on board. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Roger Jones

April 10, 2012 at 8:38 pm

PUP (Planet Under Pressure 2012) Statement

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The Planet Under Pressure 2012 Conference has just finished in London and released a statement as these things are wont to do. The conference itself is a biggie and is setting out the science (in a broad sense)  in the run-up to the UN Rio+20 conference. It was  co-convened by Lidia Brito and Australia’s own Mark Stafford-Smith and sponsored by the big international research collaborations IGBP, Diversitas, IHDP, WCRP and ICSU.  The recommendations in the statement have been passed onto the D-G of the UN Ban Ki-Moon who has agreed to take them on board.

Before commenting on the statement, I’ll do a gap assessment. Instead of seeing who was present – who was absent? Present were over 3,000 attendees and many more on-line.  The peak global change research organisations were represented. The patrons of the conference were mostly blokes and mostly western, despite a very different mix of interested parties at the ground level. The supporter of the conference included scientific, aid and development organisations. So development interests, gender, poverty and other issues straddling society and environment were present. Absent were the Davos types, miners, OECD, IMF. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Roger Jones

March 31, 2012 at 11:57 am

Natural Capital Declaration

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The run up to Rio 20+ is well and truly on with the Planet Under Pressure Conference currently underway in London. There will be a declaration that carries on from the Copenhagen Declaration but the focus this time will be on solutions. And a good thing, too. A host of other declarations  are  also being prepared and signed.

One such is the Natural Capital Declaration:

The Natural Capital Declaration is a statement by the financial sector demonstrating our commitment at the Rio+20 Earth Summit to work towards integrating Natural Capital criteria into our financial products and services for the 21st century.

Through it we wish to acknowledge and re-affirm the importance of Natural Capital in maintaining a sustainable global economy, and call upon the private and public sectors to work together to create the conditions necessary to maintain and enhance Natural Capital as a critical economic, ecological and social asset.

Natural Capital comprises Earth’s natural assets (soil, air, water, flora and fauna), and the ecosystem services resulting from them, which make human life possible. Neither these services, nor the stock of Natural Capital that provides them, are adequately valued compared to social and financial capital. Despite being fundamental to our wellbeing, their daily use remains almost undetected within our economic system. Using Natural Capital this way is not sustainable.

The Natural Capital Declaration is the first of its kind to be only open to signature by CEOs of willing financial institutions – a measure intended to get top-level buy-in by banks, institutional investors and asset managers and (re-)insurance companies.

You can download the pdf version of the whole statement here. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Roger Jones

March 28, 2012 at 10:41 pm

Zombie ping pong at the WSJ

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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.

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