Miserable failure …
… is a term that will forever be associated with George W. Bush. So, it’s interesting in more than one way that two of our local supporters of the Bush policy line on most issues , Sinclair Davidson and Alex Robson, use the phrase to describe a petition signed by a large proportion of the Australian economics profession in 2002, calling on the government to ratify Kyoto. (I was one of the organisers, and am currently particpating in a similar exercise). Writing in the Oz (where else), Robson and Davidson write “A similar petition was circulated in 2002 but ended in miserable failure when the Government simply ignored it.”
It’s an impressive piece of chutzpah on the part of Robson and Davidson to ignore the fact that, in the intervening five years, the government’s rejectionist position has collapsed, having already been abandoned by the business community and the vast majority of the Australian people. I don’t suppose a petition signed by academic economists had much responsibility for this, but it may have helped to undercut the spurious claim that signing Kyoto would be ruinous to the economy.
But for real chutzpah you can’t go past the fact that when the 2002 petition was released, with nearly 300 signatures, a counter-petition was immediately announced, and a text circulated. But the petition was never released apparently because the number of signatories was embarrassingly small and the number with any real stature in the profession close to zero. The leading organiser of this effort – none other than Alex Robson.
The rest of the Robson-Sinclair article is a rambling diatribe, containing silly quibbles, such as an incoherent objection to the factual statement that developed countries are responsible for about 75 per cent of the increased greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, some conspiratorial stuff about the IPCC not doing its own research and an attempted ad hominem against me and Clive Hamilton based (in my case at least, I’ll let Clive speak for himself) on a mischaracterisation of my views of microeconomic reform (As with the curate’s egg, I think the only verdict on microeconomic reform that is both brief and accurate is good in parts).