The doomsayers

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

68 thoughts on “The doomsayers

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. @TerjeP
    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.

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

  7. TerjeP,

    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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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?

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. Terje,

    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.

  16. 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.

  17. 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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