Home > Environment > Lomborg down under

Lomborg down under

September 30th, 2003

Bjorn Lomborg pushes his usual anti-Kyoto line in the Oz

will be extremely expensive and will have only a negligible effect. The global cost will be large: the estimates from all macro-economic models show a cost of $US150 billion ($224 billion) to $US350 billion every year. At the same time, the effect on extreme weather will be marginal: the climate models show that Kyoto will merely postpone the temperature rise by six years from 2100 to 2106. Most global warming problems will occur in the Third World, yet these countries have many other, more serious, problems with which to contend. For the cost of Kyoto, in 2010, we could permanently solve the biggest problem in the world รถ we could permanently provide clean drinking water and sanitation for every person in the world. Should we not deal with the most pressing problems for real people first?

What Lomborg doesn’t say here is that these scary estimates refer only to the case when Kyoto is implemented without emissions trading. With emissions trading, the net cost to the world would be much smaller, but Lomborg says this is politically infeasible because it would require big transfers from rich to poor countries.

In other words, we can’t implement Kyoto efficiently because we would have to give lots of money to poor countries and that’s politically impossible. But, as an alternative to implementing inefficiently we should give lots of money to poor countries.

I’ve pointed out this contradiction ad nauseam, but consistency is not a major issue for Lomborg or for his right-wing employers (the nastiest government in recent Danish history) and promoters.

Categories: Environment Tags:
  1. Dano
    September 30th, 2003 at 15:27 | #1

    We had a report here recently, John, from our Office of Management and Budget that said the cost of implementing environmental regulations paid for itself ~ 6 times over.

    What the Kyoto-bashers never mention is the cost savings in public health expenditures from the reduced tailpipe emissions.

    In fact, it’s always deafening silence when that is brought up.

    D

  2. PK
    September 30th, 2003 at 15:54 | #2

    The fact is that the problem the Kyoto treaty is trying to solve is a future problem. It is based on prediction.

    History teaches us that any kind of prediction is extremely tricky and usually wrong. Long term weather and climate changes are amongst the most difficult factors to predict because of the huge number of variables involved.

    Is human created global warming occurring? The only honest answer is “perhaps”.

    If so, will it create big problems for humanity and the environment? Once again the answer is “perhaps”.

    How bad will the problems be? “Don’t know” is the only honest answer based on current data.

    Whichever way you cut it, Kyoto will be extremely expensive. Don’t you think the money/resources would be better spent on problems we know exist and we can do something about?

    Sanitation for humanity is a much better bet.

  3. dsquared
    September 30th, 2003 at 17:44 | #3

    History teaches us that any kind of prediction is extremely tricky and usually wrong

    [...]

    Whichever way you cut it, Kyoto will be extremely expensive.

    hahahahaha.

  4. PK
    September 30th, 2003 at 19:06 | #4

    Can’t argue with that then, can I? I bow before your superior intellect.

  5. PK
    September 30th, 2003 at 19:30 | #5

    For the record.

    “History teaches us that any kind of prediction is extremely tricky and usually wrong ”

    The Club of Rome
    The Population Timebomb
    Failure to Predict the fall of the Berlin Wall
    Food shortages by the Year 2000
    Japan the economic powerhouse of the 21st century
    Last night’s weather report (wrong again)
    Failure to predict the events of 9/11
    The world’s oil supply drying up by 2000
    Failure to predict the 1987 stock-market crash
    etc

    Why should we believe the “scientists” and “futurologists” on global warming when they can’t even predict next week’s weather? The prediction industry as a whole has a terrible record.

    Diverting billions on their say-so is the real joke. Giggle away sucker.

  6. dsquared
    September 30th, 2003 at 19:50 | #6

    Why should we believe the “scientists” and “futurologists” on global warming when they can’t even predict next week’s weather?

    Why should we believe whoever it is told us how much Kyoto would cost?

  7. Mark Upcher
    September 30th, 2003 at 21:12 | #7

    If Kyoto does not incorporate emissions trading, then implementation is likely to result in a large cost for very uncertain and apparently limited benefits. (As I understand it, this is so even based on IPCC analysis of likely global warming and impact of Kyoto). This does not look like a Pareto improvement to me.

    If so, I don’t understand why countries have signed for an “inefficient” implementation in the first place.

  8. PK
    September 30th, 2003 at 21:17 | #8

    Clearly it’s going to cost something.

    Arguing about figures is futile when the central assumption of the protocol is flawed.

    Nobody can predict what the Earth’s climate will be in 100 years. Pretending that you can and then demanding big changes to economic activity as a result is hubris.

    You wouldn’t argue for a change like this based on the predictions of an astrologer, yet someone throws a few figures and graphs at you and you’re besotted.

  9. dsquared
    October 1st, 2003 at 00:39 | #9

    You wouldn’t argue for a change like this based on the predictions of an astrologer, yet someone throws a few figures and graphs at you and you’re besotted.

    Predictions of imminent economic doom have been a staple of environmental arguments since the war. Every clean air act has been accompanied by estimates of gazillions of jobs lost, untold economic damage, new recessions, etc, etc. Who’s besotted?

  10. david
    October 1st, 2003 at 01:26 | #10

    Having just come from Lomborg’s Melbourne talk, where he showed data for the effects of emissions trading on Kyoto costs, it doesn’t seem to me that all of Prof Quiggins assertions about Lomborg hold up. It also doesn’t bode well for Prof Qs arguments if he has to contininually resort to gratuitous smearing, labeling and “guilt by association ” rather than rational argument to make his case: it just makes me suspicious.

    One interesting line of argument Lomberg made is that the bad effects of global warming will primarily effect the developing contries, whereas the bad effects of Kyoto costs will affect the richer countries – is this a recipe thats going to encouarage the rich counties keep folling thru: it seems already Russia, who possibly will benefit from warming, is allready wavering. Why I wonder?
    And I have questions for Prof Q: just exactly where is the documentation that Kyoto will have “modest” costs he says it implies, and where is the evidence it will do any move than delay change by any more than , say, 4 years. Is, for example US$100 billion modest?

  11. PK
    October 1st, 2003 at 09:20 | #11

    Not me. Their predictions are just as dodgy.

    You’re the ones arguing for a change though. If your only basis for that argument is a prediction of what the weather is going to be like in 2100, then your position is shaky.

    Are you seriously suggesting that Kyoto isn’t going to cost anything at all? Why bother with it if there’s nothing to back it up?

    Spend the resources on a real problem that we are certain exists like sanitation for the poor.

  12. William
    October 1st, 2003 at 10:06 | #12

    ‘the nastiest government in recent Danish history.’

    To describe the current government of Denmark as nasty (or any recent Danish governments as having degrees of nastiness) leads me to think you are too much affected by emotion on this issue, Prof Q.

    What is nasty about the current Danish government?

  13. John
    October 1st, 2003 at 17:11 | #13

    As regards the Danish government, I’d point you to Bertram Online with specific reference to the Danish People’s Party.

    On the costs of Kyoto, I’ve discussed this at length in the past, for example here and here.

    More generally, as I’ve pointed out repeatedly, Kyoto is essentially a low-cost way of preparing for serious action if current forecasts are confirmed by future information.

    As a general point, perhaps people could use the search engine on the right-hand sidebar before asking why I haven’t said anything about some particular topic.

  14. William
    October 2nd, 2003 at 11:26 | #14

    Bertram is a very patchy left-wing blog. How can I tell that Bertam’s is an unbalanced picture of Danish politics? Because I’ve lived and studied Danish politics in Denmark, and even met the current Leader of the Opposition, Mogens Lykketoft (when he was Finance Minister in the Social Democrat Poul Nyrup Rasmussen government in 2000) and discussed the rise of Pia Kjaersgaard’s DF with him.

    Anders Fogh Rasmussen’s centre-right government is relatively left-wing compared to the British Labour Party or the US Democrats. It is left of the ALP on major economic and social policy issues (including taxation, education funding, health insurance, law and order, and immigration).

    And Pia Kjaersgaard’s People’s Party is not a part of the Danish government, it’s in the same position as the Democrats are here.

  15. John
    October 2nd, 2003 at 20:59 | #15

    William you are obviously closer to the action than I am. Nevertheless, it’s certainly not correct to say that the Danish People’s Party “is in the same position as the Democrats are here”. AF Rasmussen has a minority government which depends for its survival on the support of the People’s Party. By contrast, even when they clearly held the balance of power in the Senate, the Democrats could only block legislation, not throw the government out (I leave aside the possibility of blocking supply, which the Democrats have always ruled out under any circumstances).

    A much more accurate analogy would be the situation of a hypothetical Howard government, depending for its House of Representatives majority on Pauline Hanson’s One Nation.

  16. tf
    October 2nd, 2003 at 21:14 | #16

    Regarding david’s question re: ‘modest’ costs of Kyoto (NB Annex II includes advanced industrialised ie ‘rich’ countries and doesn’t include economies in transition.

    “In the absence of emissions trading between Annex B countries, the majority of global studies show reductions in projected GDP of about 0.2% to 2% in 2010 for different Annex II regions. With full emissions trading between Annex B countries, the estimated reductions in 2010 are between 0.1% and 1.1% of projected GDP.” http://www.grida.no/climate/ipcc_tar/wg3/007.htm

  17. William
    October 2nd, 2003 at 22:03 | #17

    Prof Q: Yes, I suppose a Howard dependance on a One Nation minority would be a better example, but the People’s Party would never throw the government out, they can only send back bills in the same way the Democrats and various independents do now. Ignore Bertram’s lefty paranoia, Danish politics is much, much more civilised than anything that goes on in London, Washington or Canberra. And even after the changes made by the current government, the Danes’ environmental policies put the vast majority of the developed world to shame.

    Anyway, AF Rasmussen is a nice guy. He’s even got a Masters in Economics [if that's any recommendation ;) ] I’m sure you’d get along fine.

  18. John Quiggin
    October 3rd, 2003 at 10:30 | #18

    When you say “the People’s Party would never throw the government out, they can only send back bills in the same way the Democrats and various independents do now”, do you mean that there is some sort of constitutional obstacle that prevents them from doing this?

    Or is it simply that the current government is closer to their views than any feasible alternative?

  19. William
    October 3rd, 2003 at 13:01 | #19

    No, theoretically possible, but it’d never happen. It’d upset everyone else (including the Queen). Their input has been only in reforming the very idealistic immigration laws.

    Yes, the current government is closer to their views than any feasible alternative.

Comments are closed.