Home > Economics - General > The doomsayers

The doomsayers

June 18th, 2012

With two weeks to go before the carbon price takes effect, I thought it might be fun to collect a few of the predictions of economic disaster that have been made about this very modest reform. And these people call climate scientists “doomsayers”

Piers Akerman
Tony Abbott
Christian Kerr
Andrew Robb
David Murray
Barry O’Farrell
John Howard
The coal lobby
The entire Liberal party, in unison

Feel free to add any I’ve missed. And, if anyone would like to reaffirm the predictions of disaster, preferably using real names rather than pseudonyms, this is a great opportunity.


Here’s Terry McCrann claiming a doubling of electricity prices, a claim originated by Alan Moran and picked up by Tony Abbott. My response
Andrew Bolt, claiming a carbon tax will be ‘ruinous’
Alan Jones, going too far even for the toothless ACMA tiger
George Brandis, blaming carbon taxes for the woes of Fairfax

Categories: Economics - General Tags:
  1. Hermit
    June 18th, 2012 at 13:58 | #1

    I copy pasted a couple of those dead links. If they are typical it would seem they are all from doomsayers but I suggest we need a new category of ‘dudsayers’… those who think the carbon tax will have few effects either good or bad. WA Premier Colin Barnett seems to be in this camp.

    I think the no. 1 effect of the tax will be to put the kibosh on new coal fired plant until Abbott sweeps to power. By the way I support carbon pricing. In the next 15 months or so there should be some general belt tightening. However I may think twice about getting out of a comfy chair to turn off a light switch knowing Mr Palmer’s new coal mines will be supplying the rest of the world that doesn’t pay carbon tax.

    We are woefully off-track for both renewable energy and reduced emissions (using the year 2000 baseline) and I doubt that will have changed much by the next Federal election.

  2. wilful
    June 18th, 2012 at 14:30 | #2

    If we’re racking up entities (such as the Liberal Party) as well as individuals, shouldn’t you give a gong to News Ltd in Australia, or at least the Daily Terror and the Hun?

    I’m sure Barnaby Joyce would be disappointed to miss a place on that list.

  3. John Quiggin
    June 18th, 2012 at 14:45 | #3

    Google is your friend! Find a link and I’ll add it

  4. Ikonoclast
    June 18th, 2012 at 15:04 | #4

    The “jobs, jobs, jobs, now, now, now” myopia of the right is what really annoys me. They say a carbon tax will kill jobs. Disastrous climate change and unmanaged resource depletions and ad hoc transitions will kill a lot more jobs. In fact these problems if allowed to fester and grow will kill a lot of people too.

    The other annoying thing is that full employment and price stability can be achieved together with a Job Guarantee where the Federal Govt acts as the buffer stock employer.

  5. JB Cairns
    June 18th, 2012 at 15:11 | #5

    how ironic that these people/groups were great supporters of the GST which was five times what the ETS will be.

    how can some-one support a GST but believe the ETS will have a greater impact?

    not particularly smart people. not very good at maths.

    I blame the schools!

  6. crocodile
    June 18th, 2012 at 15:15 | #6

    Piers Akerman is just a fat turd. Tony Abbott of course, along with the coalition are doing what oppositions do. Do the others matter that much.

  7. hc
    June 18th, 2012 at 15:17 | #7

    The abuse directed at measures to address climate change such as cthe carbon tax has evoked substantial counteraction among conservatives who despise the short-sighted stupidity of those on your list. They predict one disaster but miss many that are much more firmly based. This week the Economist in its snappy usual right-wing way talks about the benefits of having a melting of the Arctic. It recognises clear benefits but concludes that the costs of this change will be much, much greater:

    “It is a stunning illustration of global warming, the cause of the melt. It also contains grave warnings of its dangers. The world would be mad to annoy them”.

    My point – the ‘practical’ men you cite in your list are ultimately impractical buffoons with their heads in the sand.



    I’d add Henry Ergas to your list. He has done everything possible to demolish the carbon tax on the basis of exaggerated myth about massive costs. His latest missive in this morning’s Australian.

  8. John Quiggin
    June 18th, 2012 at 16:04 | #8

    I saw the Ergas piece. I checked the Treasury projections and could make no sense of his claims – but he is very good at skewing the data to present a misleading case.

  9. Con M
  10. Hermit
    June 18th, 2012 at 17:26 | #10

    After the initial relief that the sky hasn’t fallen may come the realisation that the big coal fired power stations aren’t going anywhere. I expect we’ll only be using a smidgin less electricity while emissions are largely stuck in a rut. Note they were 540 Mt net CO2e for 2010 and 546 Mt for 2011. To replace the big coal stations with gas requires a stable piped gas price in conjunction with a carbon tax. That seems unlikely with record LNG export prices. Both brown coal and wind power interests say they need $40 not $23. Moreover the effective carbon price is negligible for all those groups with exemptions, free permits and generous compensation.

    Therefore expect to be disappointed with the emissions trajectory a year from now. A sleeper factor is a return to El Nino by summer, perhaps stronger than what got Rudd elected with ETS promises in 2007. If the world economy is lacklustre I think voters will be torn between electing Abbott to return us to the golden age and wanting something done about emissions. I expect things to get more interesting this time next year.

  11. Donald Oats
    June 18th, 2012 at 18:00 | #11

    Page 6 of new scientist says “…renewables supplied 20.3 per centof global electricity by the end of 2011.”
    So much for the doomsday theory that more than 10% renewablewould destabilize the grid.

  12. rog
    June 18th, 2012 at 18:16 | #12

    @Hermit The price of coal has already slumped – due mainly to popularity of CSG and a warm winter in the US putting price pressure on energy producers.

  13. iain
    June 18th, 2012 at 19:23 | #13

    No Bolt ?

    I think it says something about his method of cherry picking quotes to fit his predetermined default position.

    He rarely makes direct comment, instead often choosing to carefully manipulates other people’s words to make his points?

  14. TerjeP
    June 18th, 2012 at 21:16 | #14

    I oppose Gillards carbon tax. I think it is reckless. It move things tax wise in the wrong direction (ie up). The higher tax free threshold on income is nice but in truth it’s mostly a smoke and mirrors swap out for the LITO. I expect the carbon tax to lower the global temperature by an irrelevantly small quantity. So immeasurably small that the policy effect is actually unmeasurable.

    However I have never suggested that Gillards carbon tax in and of itself will cause economic calamity. I don’t think it will cause any substantial economic problems. I do expect it will continue to cause political problems for the proponents. Especially given that the PM lied and said there would be no carbon tax under a government she leads. Long may she face political oblivion for that deceit.

  15. TerjeP
    June 18th, 2012 at 21:26 | #15

    The linked article relating to Christian Kerr has a doomsday headline but to be fair many journalists don’t write their own headline. Reading the rest of the article it seems to be merely a set of quotes for things said by somebody who is not Christian Kerr. Surely this is a weak reference for the assertion that Christian Kerr is personally predicting economic doom.

  16. TerjeP
    June 18th, 2012 at 21:33 | #16

    Aside from doom spin the key assertion made by Andrew Robb is that the carbon tax will destroy tens of thousands of jobs and raise electricity prices. That much seems like a quite reasonable claim even if it is couched in doom language it is hardly doomsday stuff.

  17. TerjeP
    June 18th, 2012 at 21:34 | #17

    The Tony Abbott article suggests that Tony Abbott is off with the pixies. No big surprise there.

  18. TerjeP
    June 18th, 2012 at 21:37 | #18

    Is that the best you can find on Howard? I mean I think it is wrong but it is just one sentence. And you would hardly expect him to endorse ALP policy.

  19. zoot
    June 18th, 2012 at 22:06 | #19

    At the risk of derailing the thread – TerjeP, the carbon price is not meant to reduce the temperature of the planet, and a carbon price was Howard’s policy not so long ago.
    Can I place a bet with you on how many tens of thousands of jobs will be destroyed by the carbon price?

  20. rog
    June 18th, 2012 at 22:24 | #20

    @TerjeP That argument falls down when you consider that electricity has already increased and that increase has been significant (~20% in the last few years).

  21. TerjeP
    June 18th, 2012 at 22:27 | #21

    No because in a job market of over 10 million any decline in the order of 10 thousand jobs is pretty easy to argue away. Such a bet would be too hard to adjudicate.

    And if the carbon tax is not meant to reduce the temperature (relative to business as usual) then what the hell is it for?

  22. TerjeP
    June 18th, 2012 at 22:28 | #22

    Rog – I could blame MRET. MRET is worse than a carbon tax.

  23. Robert (not from UK)
    June 18th, 2012 at 22:42 | #23

    Maybe the “entire Liberal Party, in unison” has adopted the slogan of the old Tom Lehrer song:

    “Plagiarise, plagiarise, / Let no-one else’s work evade your eyes, / Remember why the good Lord made your eyes, / So don’t shade your eyes, / But plagiarise, plagiarise, plagiarise.”

    Unfortunately Professor Lehrer’s rider to this advice – “Only be careful to call it, please, ‘research’” – has clearly been forgotten by such geniuses as Mr Abbott.

  24. Bring back Birdy at Catallaxy
    June 19th, 2012 at 06:31 | #24

    While I was amused by this item of gossip, I’ve deleted it as potentially defamatory. Please check the comments policy before posting rumors about people

  25. rog
    June 19th, 2012 at 07:18 | #25

    @TerjeP Which reminds me of JH and GST not being lib policy – he turned.

  26. Hal9000
    June 19th, 2012 at 11:06 | #26

    Andrew Bolt and Alan Jones – talking carbon tax doom to each other.


  27. wilful
  28. Eric Cartman
    June 19th, 2012 at 12:37 | #28

    The carbon tax killed Kenny! The bastards!

  29. Tom
    June 19th, 2012 at 13:16 | #29


    Maybe the in the next few months we’ll be seeing “Does the labour party accept the responsibility for the loss of x (whatever the figure on labour force statistic) of jobs as a direct result of the carbon tax?”

    Same thing as usually, dishonesty.

  30. zoot
    June 19th, 2012 at 14:01 | #30

    And if the carbon tax is not meant to reduce the temperature (relative to business as usual) then what the hell is it for?

    To help limit the rise in global temperature. You do understand the difference?

  31. crocodile
    June 19th, 2012 at 14:11 | #31

    I believe that the intention is set the price of carbon to a point where new investment in alternatives is more practical. Encourage innovation and new industries to replace the old ones. Time will tell if it works.

  32. John Quiggin
    June 19th, 2012 at 14:17 | #32

    I just saw this one too. Epic!

  33. paul walter
    June 19th, 2012 at 14:45 | #33

    Christian Kerr. The word processors answer to Christopher Pyne.

  34. David Irving (no relation)
    June 20th, 2012 at 12:47 | #34

    Terje may well understand the difference, zoot, but as a glibertarian there’s no way he’d let understanding get in the way of a good straw-man.

  35. TerjeP
    June 20th, 2012 at 20:24 | #35

    Zoot is talking rubbish.

  36. Sam
    June 20th, 2012 at 21:44 | #36

    Fine. It’s not going to reduce the temperature in absolute terms, but it is meant to reduce it relative to BAU. Happy now?

  37. Ken Fabian
    June 21st, 2012 at 11:01 | #37

    The Carbon Tax won’t be the end of the Australian economy but it will probably be the end of the Labor Government anyway. It was never more than a shaky start to directing the economy towards low emissions. Terje’s preferred solution to a problem he otherwise thinks Australia should not have to address – nuclear – was stabbed in the back by it’s alleged political friends when the Right chose to denial and delay on the climate problem in order to back the incumbent fossil fueled status quo. The sight of the world’s biggest coal exporter pretending to care about climate whilst insisting the coal industry must not be impacted is cringeworthy, with Labor’s efforts only marginally better than no effort at all. The best that can be said is it’s a small step towards giving the issue future legitimacy.

  38. Slatts
    June 22nd, 2012 at 17:44 | #38

    I see one of your comrades on the Labor lickspittle climate panel is Clive Hamilton, the failed Greens candidate, who argues for the suspension of democratic processes. Nice fascist company you keep.

  39. John Quiggin
    June 22nd, 2012 at 19:08 | #39

    Wow, Slatts, a real blast from the past! I particularly like how a Greens candidate is a Labor lickspittle! Keep em’ coming.

  40. June 22nd, 2012 at 21:37 | #40

    Terje wrote “relative to business as usual” and then his detractors insist he is wrong because they are talking about “relative to BAU”. Nice own goal.

    Surely you all know that the carbon tax (really an ETS) is not going to change temperatures relative to BAU? If the standard opinion on this blog is that Australia’s ETS is going to change temperatures (compared to BAU) in any noticeable way, then you might want to create a new list of crack-pots. I would be fascinated to see who is willing to admit to holding such a view.

    So far we have “Sam” and “soot” who seem to be making the claim… does anybody else want to join the list of shame? JQ, are you willing to go on the record as saying that Australia’s ETS will change temperatures to any meaningful degree (relative to BAU)?

    For the record, I don’t think there will be doom… our economy has bumbled forward despite many other bad policies and we will continue to bumble forward after this one. But I do think the ETS is bad policy because it fails any even vaguely honest benefit-cost analysis.

  41. WhaleHunt Fun
    June 23rd, 2012 at 00:00 | #41

    Deleted – if you want to make a silly prediction of doom, use your real name, not a pseudonym

  42. John Quiggin
    June 23rd, 2012 at 05:21 | #42

    @John Humphreys
    In the absence of numbers, I assume you and Terje are repeating the talking point, put forward by Terje here in the past, that Australia only accounts for some negiligible/immeasurable fraction of total emissions – 0.001 per cent or similar. This claim is incorrect, as I’ve previously shown.


    As I show there, Australia accounts for around 2 per cent of global emissions. Therefore we will ultimately bear around 2 per cent of the costs of stabiliizing global temperatures and will be responsible for around 2 per cent of the change in trajectory relative to BAU. Our current commitment is more like 1 per cent. With minor variations, numbers like this are applicable to all global efforts in which Australia is engaged e.g, our share of troops in international efforts of various kinds.

    If you’re merely saying that a country of Australia’s size (population and economic) is negligible, then I guess it’s just a matter of semantics

  43. TerjeP
    June 23rd, 2012 at 08:21 | #43

    In the absence of numbers, I assume you and Terje are repeating the talking point, put forward by Terje here in the past, that Australia only accounts for some negiligible/immeasurable fraction of total emissions – 0.001 per cent or similar. This claim is incorrect, as I’ve previously shown.

    That would be a ridiculous claim and I have never made it. That you make such a suggestion is in fact quite insulting. Either you are completely dishonest or incapable of comprehension or some mix of the two.

    The argument I have made here and elsewhere is that the impact of the carbon tax on temperature relative to business as usual is negligible and in fact immeasurably small. However if you can’t even comprehend the argument, which repeated encounters seem to demonstrate, then I have given up on the notion that you have the capacity to address it.

  44. BilB
    June 23rd, 2012 at 09:26 | #44

    John Humphries,

    You can only hold your view if you are oblivious to change (of any kind other than taxation) and are too lazy to use a calculator.

    First up, the “too small to matter” argument. The reality is that there are 195 (approx) countries in the world and with 2% of emissions Australia has double the responsibility to change relatative to the average. Of course you are going to point out China, the US and Europe. Well each of these political states are made up of of minor states, territories, and provinces. Australia has 8. If you do the comparison at this level you will find that each of Australia’s states are in the top 5% of highest CO emitters in the world.

    There are any number of ways to fool yourself into believing that you have no responsibility for Climate Change. The only valid one, if true, is “I was just born yesterday”. But even at birth in Australia a person has been responsible for the loss of several trees and the combustion of several barrels of oil, unless one is born in Arnheimland.

    As far as the effectiveness of Climate Change Mitigation efforts are concerned, I am taking a different approach. I am preparing a spreadsheet to track the cost on my life of Climate Change Impacts relative to the year that JWH became Prime Minister, which is also the year that Climate Change action should have become a major government priority. This spreadsheet will track the costs of Climate Change related property damge, increased insurance costs, business damage costs, loss of opportunity costs, health impacts, psychological and personal discomfort impacts, any Climate Change induced relocation costs, and the cost of impacts due to environmental degradation.

    A second spreadsheet will track the improvements to my life due to the positive aspects of Climate Change Mitigation efforts. Again the baseline will be the year of JWH’s “rise to power”, taking this year as the BAU time frame. Looking five years forward I am expecting these benefits to be immense improvements on the BAU projection. In this assessment I am expecting that my family energy bill will fall to near zero. There will be new associated costs and these relatively small costs will be deducted from the benefits. I expect there to be a reduction in material waste which will bring cost reductions and a personal satisfaction benefit. I expect there to be significant changes to our community structures which may bring an improved “sense of community” along with a local focus.

    No matter how these costs and benefits balance out in the short term, the real impact of Climate Change due to rising CO2 levels is Global Environmental Damage with the loss of species, ocean acidification, ultimate ocean stagnation, desertification of the primary habitat and food production band, and weather terrorisation. But perception of the BAU ultimate future of our world is lost on those with no foresight, minimal moral substance and a proccupation with immediate self interest.

    I have to say that I am intrigued by the group who routinely rail against perceived excessive government expenditure claiming ultimate fiscal collapse on the one hand, who argue for continued over expenditure of our environmental assets claiming no risk of environmental collapse on the other hand. The reality is that just as the gambler who heads to the pokies every day to lose more than they can ever earn in a week will eventually run out of resources, the demand for Business as Usual resource and environment consumption is the surest and most direct path to an anything but Business as Usual economic future.

  45. BilB
    June 23rd, 2012 at 09:34 | #45

    Oops that should have been…Australians have four times the responsibility on a percentage of emissions versus “numbers of countries” basis.

  46. Ken Fabian
    June 23rd, 2012 at 10:29 | #46

    Instead of urging the rest of the world to face the climate problem, we are being urged to duck out of facing the climate problem completely. This will be such a slap in the face for the rest of the world that they will rush in to do the job without us? There are consequences to the choices we make beyond the short term impacts on our right to spend and consume wastefully.

    Let’s be straight up about this – those who urge Australia to do the least we can get away have little or no commitment to global effort achieve the most we are capable of. Embracing failure – local, national and global – is intrinsic.

    Is this for the sake of short term benefits that come with forgoing the needs of the future and living for today? Or because facing a danger to our long term prosperity and security of unprecedented scale with eyes open and head on is too much to bear?

    Recognising responsibilities and shouldering obligations won’t impoverish us, it is denying and avoiding them is that diminishes us.

  47. John Quiggin
    June 23rd, 2012 at 10:30 | #47

    @Terje I’m afraid your memory is not so good. Just a year ago, you claimed an effect of

    About 0.0002 degrees Celcius (sic) relative to the business as usual scenario.

    In the same thread, I pointed out that your benefit-cost analysis was out by a factor of (at least) 1000. Now you’re back making the same claims, in terms of “immeasurably small”, but without numbers. This is one reason I’m happy to be abandoning polemics on this topic. It doesn’t matter how often I point out that your talking points are ludicrously wrong, you’re back with the same or worse in very short order.

    Anyway, I await your retraction of the suggestion that “Either you are completely dishonest or incapable of comprehension or some mix of the two. “

  48. TerjeP
    June 23rd, 2012 at 10:50 | #48

    If you can’t tell the difference between a claim about temperature (measured in degrees celcius) and an assertion about share of global emissions (expressed as a percentage of global total) then you are either intellectually dishonest or incapable of comprehension or sleep deprived or some such thing. You asserted a talking point that I have never heard let alone uttered. And what is the point of giving you numbers when you seem wilfully incapable of differentiating between different units of measure. And then use that incapacity as the basis for insulting misquotes.

  49. John Quiggin
    June 23rd, 2012 at 11:37 | #49

    Terje, as I’m not willing to engage in further polemics on this topic, I’m also not willing to give you a free pass to spout nonsense that I’ve already refuted. Please, post nothing further on climate change or related issues.

  50. BilB
    June 23rd, 2012 at 11:44 | #50

    Terje said

    I don’t think the carbon tax is good public policy because the costs exceed the benefits. …………………….


    As I said earlier I think the cost of a carbon tax is too high given the benefit

    Jim Birch asked

    What (specifically) do you think the benefit is?

    Terj replied

    About 0.0002 degrees Celcius relative to the business as usual scenario

    above Terje said

    I expect the carbon tax to lower the global temperature by an irrelevantly small quantity. So immeasurably small that the policy effect is actually unmeasurable.


    And if the carbon tax is not meant to reduce the temperature (relative to business as usual) then what the hell is it for?

    Hoever the ICC and the greater body of science have determined through research the BAU CO2 emissions will increase global temperatures by 5 deg C. Terje is claiming that CO2 emissions control will have neglible effect. While these various claims do not directly align, Terje’s claim that elimination of Australia’s 2% of CO2 emissions will only prevent Global Temperature rise by .0002 deg C is at odds with the ICC evaluation.

    A 0.0002 rise is one 25,000th part of 5 degrees rise, whereas 2% of 5 deg C represents one 10 th part of a degree C. The 2 figures are a continent and an ocean apart.

    0.1 versus 0.0002 deg C impact caused by BAU CO2 emissions.

    I think Terje that…you…have a need to apologise, based on those figures.

  51. TerjeP
    June 23rd, 2012 at 13:59 | #51

    John – if you have any integrity what so ever you will withdraw your outrageous assertion regarding my position. Never have I asserted that Australian emissions are 0.001% of global emissions. I have never even asserted anything remotely similar to that. If you actually think I have then you truly are deluded.

  52. frankis
    June 23rd, 2012 at 14:24 | #52

    Haven’t seen Terje so morally outraged since scumbags stole his personal emails and used them to seed disinformation and science denial right across the intertoobs! Those d*ckheads never apologised for infringing Terje’s glibertarian rights in that sordid little email hacking episode, either! And where are the manners, humanity – the manners!

    Back a bit toward the topic: if the rest of the world were to halve its CO2 emissions over the next few decades while free Australia! continued to increase its until let’s say Aus were to be emitting 6% of global anthro CO2 …. that still wouldn’t be soon enough for Australia to do anything would it, Terje and Team Economic Doomster? The sky would fall if taxes swung in any way toward taxation of bads rather than goods, and the doomsters never saw a GST that wasn’t a thing of joy and beauty and economic precision compared to the evil of carbon taxation. Maybe it’ll always be too hard to please some gloomsters.

  53. Ernestine Gross
    June 23rd, 2012 at 14:42 | #53

    The item “The entire Liberal party, in unison” on JQ’s list surprised (Malkolm Turnbull, John Hewson, some newer members of Parliament?), until I read the linked material! It is funny.

  54. June 23rd, 2012 at 15:42 | #54

    Just about every shock jok in the country under coatract to news ltd and the mining barons could be added to the list. Its amazing the Gillard government are’nt in the minus figures in the polls, If not for the net they probable would be.

  55. John Quiggin
    June 23rd, 2012 at 16:28 | #55

    You made the claim that reducing Australia’s emissions in line with government (and, at least nominally, Opposition) policy would only reduce global temperatures by 0.0002 degrees C. That claim would make sense only if Australia’s emissions were a tiny proportion of the world total, say around 0.01 per cent. So, you were out by a factor of 100 and not 1000. As we’ve seen in related discussion, that makes you one of the intellectual leaders of your tribe, since errors of three orders of magnitude are routine for Akerman, Blair, Jones and others.

    Nevertheless, I don’t feel inclined to apologise. Feel free to apply for a full refund on your way out.

  56. TerjeP
    June 23rd, 2012 at 18:46 | #56

    I’ve deleted this comment which was based on a typo, now fixed. I must say, I expected a little better – JQ

  57. Mel
    June 23rd, 2012 at 19:03 | #57


    I think PrQ has shown almost superhuman patience by permitting you to endlessly repeat the same predictable talking points over the 6 years I’ve been reading this blog. Enough already with the Prima Donna temper tantrums.

  58. rog
    June 23rd, 2012 at 19:31 | #58

    @TerjeP These tantrums weaken your claims of integrity and are a poor reflection on yourself.

  59. June 23rd, 2012 at 21:23 | #59

    JQ — your estimate above used to inappropriately attack Terje is based on some very strange assumptions, and it clearly a mis-reporting of his views. I think you know this to be true. Surely you understand that Australia’s action alone will have an insignificant impact on global temperatures.

    So back to my question of you. Will you join the increasing group-think of this blog and say that the Australian ETS will lead to a noticeable change in temperatures (over BAU). If you are instead relying on international action, then please make that very clear… because it then means that your entire arguments rests on the existence (or otherwise) of a comprehensive binding international agreement. Shaky ground there.

    We can debate how much Australia can contribute to the existence of such a binding agreement later… though I think all honest observers know that conditional legislation (legislate now, but price only if there is a world agreement) would be the best way to encourage global action. But let’s put that aside for the moment because it will confuse too many people.

    What I really want to know is whether you think Australia’s ETS will change global temperatures (vis-a-vis BAU) or not. When you allow these sorts of crazy statements but attack Terje for something he didn’t say, it implies you agree with the crazy statements… but you deserve a chance to distance yourself before you are bundled in with the rest.

  60. John Quiggin
    June 23rd, 2012 at 21:31 | #60

    JH I gave a direct link to what Terje said, and to my refutation. I’ve also given numerical estimates. You’ve written a lot of words, but put up no numbers. How about it?

  61. June 23rd, 2012 at 22:43 | #61

    JQ — you did provide some numbers, but they didn’t include an estimate for the temperature change (over BAU) caused by Australia’s ETS. Though in saying that Terje is out by a factor of 100 you seem to be saying that Australia’s ETS will impact global temperatures by about 0.02 degrees.

    The numbers you quote in the link had a few problems. First, you assume that Australia’s share of global emissions will stay constant into the future… where a much more reasonable assumption is that China & India & friends will increase their relative share of emissions. Second, your estimate is for the benefits of *all* policy that achieves a 5% cut in emissions, not just the carbon tax. Third, in calculating our contribution to the potential temperature change (from BAU), you seem to be assuming a strong binding global deal, which isn’t guaranteed, so shouldn’t be automatically included with a probability of 100%.

    Putting all of that aside for the moment, you say that our contribution will be 1% of the global contribution (if/when that occurs). I’m not sure what you believe the global temperature change will be due to climate policy (over BAU), but if you believe temperatures will rise only 2 degrees instead of 4 degrees, then 1% of that gives a temperature change due to Australia of 0.02 degrees… which is consistent with your comment to Terje.

    A better way to calculate the direct impact from the carbon tax is to consider the expected reduced emissions that come directly from the carbon tax, and then look at that as a percentage of what global emissions will be in the future, and then use the estimated relationship between those emissions and temperatures. I suspect the impact of Australia’s ETS will be somewhat lower than 0.02 degrees using that framework, but I must admit that I haven’t run the numbers yet.

    Before I do run the numbers… if you want to back away from your 0.02 degree estimate, then now is the time.

  62. BilB
    June 24th, 2012 at 00:25 | #62

    Before, John Humphries, you “run the numbers” you will need to make assumptions on the enabling technologies that will build Australia’s Zero Carbon Future. I’ve had a quick look at your CV and I cannot see sufficient space in there for you to have developed any realistic technological understanding that will deliver a meaningful intuitive prediction of future Carbon Outcomes. You’ve done a little bit of policy work with R&D superficial to innovation proper, but your new thrust in the trendy Creative Industries direction at least gives you exposure to many of the methods for creating growth without resurce consumption. In short anything that you come up with that does not fully define the precise enabling technologies is little more than guess work.

    So your …..”running of the numbers”….. will be an interesting expose of your technical knowledge as destinct from your economics prowess. Equally Professor Quiggin does not possess the specific knowledge to chart a precise course into the future, and he rightfully does not attempt to. His approach has been to determine which economic instruments will deliver the best chance for success, and then ensure that they are applied, and his new position evidences that determined path.

    Frankly, I think that

    “Before I do run the numbers… if you want to back away from your 0.02 degree estimate, then now is the time”

    represents the height of arrogance declaring yourself as the ultimate arbiter of real futures, especially as your preamble to that calculated path is stacked at the outset with personal opinions and assumptions.

    So calculate away, but don’t forget to be technically specific.

  63. John Quiggin
    June 24th, 2012 at 04:52 | #63

    JH – I’m happy with the 0.02 estimate. To be clear, that’s for Australia’s contribution, with no consideration of questions like the impact on global emissions of our choosing to contribute to mitigation or to free-ride.

    As should be pretty obvious, it’s not meant to be precise, and claiming precision would be silly in any case. Given that there is a factor of 100 difference between Terje’s estimate and mine, I don’t think this is going to be a problem.

  64. June 24th, 2012 at 12:30 | #64

    Fair enough… nobody expects you (or anybody) to be precise since we are dealing with lots of uncertainty here. I appreciate you making your position clear.

    Incidentally, it is interesting to note that your working was based on a global reduction of emissions of 50% over BAU… not a reduction of 50% over the current situation. I wonder whether that will disappoint some of your fellow travelers.

  65. TerjeP
    June 24th, 2012 at 12:45 | #65

    JQ – I was happy to walk away from the 0.0002 figure a year ago and I did not reintroduce it to the discussion here. But for what it is worth I was not looking at the temperature benefit of a 40% – 50% reduction in emissions as your number seems to be based on but was referring to the benefit of the carbon tax. If we do more than that then of course we get more benefit. However we also incur more cost.

    I most certainly was not suggesting that Australia’s emissions were 0.001% of global emissions which is what you asserted earlier in this discussion.

  66. BilB
    June 24th, 2012 at 13:39 | #66


    The “incur more cost” comment is not necessarily correct. As renewable technologies become established in substantial form their costs will reduce. Coupled with that will be a very large measure of distributed energy generation which substantially reduces the energy costs to those with access for both domestic and industrial energy as well as for light transport energy. The nett effect of these influences is an induced Carbon Consumption Disincentive. The cost differential between fossil fuel origin energy and solar origin energy will increase.

    There will not necessarily be a need to increase the Carbon Price, probably quite the opposite will happen, the Carbon Price could well go down as coal powered stations are progressively retired. The reason for a reduction would be to smooth distortions in the energy price for unfairly disadvantaged sectors of the community as distributed energy achieves dominance.

    The other variable is the effect of the declining reserves of oil. With the global oil pumping rate now at 91.1 billion barrels per year and the Ghawar field now in its final full flow extraction phase, the oil availability pinch off point is likely to be very sudden. Japan has set an EV uptake level of 20% for 2020 (just 8 years from now) and Australia could well be similar depending on the oil supply stability. The sum effect of this is more certainly to be a solid swing to distributed energy generation for both domestic and small business. The greater the uptake of distributed energy production, the lower the national energy bill becomes. This will influence the Carbon Price or the cost of Carbon Credits in an ETS environment.

    The short comment, your $100 per tonne CO2 suggestion and the provocative $1000 per tonne CO2 suggestion are both way outside the realm of probabilities.

  67. BilB
    June 24th, 2012 at 14:06 | #67

    Just as an aside, I am current designing the method for attaching 1 kw of solar generation capacity to the mast of my boat (once it is launched). I have not done the measurements yet but there is a quite large amount of reflected light that comes from the surface waves of water under mild wind conditions. My mast system will be taking advantage of that. The unfortunate byproduct of this change will be that the sailing performance of the boat will increase quite measurably. And, yes, it will not be a cheap feature, but I think well worth the effort. If I can get 3 or 4 kilowatt hours of electricity per day with the boat sitting at anchor, I will be doing very well.

  68. June 25th, 2012 at 17:36 | #68

    Everyone needs to relax and forget about global temperatures and global emissions when it comes to Australia’s Carbon Pricing system.

    The only question under consideration is will Australia’s Carbon Pricing system that evolves into an Emission Trading System reduce Australia’s Carbon emissions?

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