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September 13, 2007

Blueprint for a Green Economy

I'll read more of this later but:

The services provided to us by our natural environment – raw materials, (...)–came free and seemed
inexhaustible.

Raw materials came free? That'll be a bit of a surprise to the poor buggers who dug the ores out of the earth, the foresters spending their live cutting down trees etc.

Or does human labour not have a cost in the Green world? Ooops, sorry, forgot. As with recycling, no it doesn't does it?

Update:

Now, that assessment has been reversed. The world is awash with capital-rich investors but
increasingly denuded of natural resources.

Hunh? We've got more resources than we had a couple of decades ago, more than we had a century ago. Because we have better technology, enabling us to extract more of them.

What have these people been smoking?

The market lacks the dimension of time. Unrestrained, it will catch till the last fish is landed, drill till there is no more oil,....

No, the market will keep catching fish until the cost of doing so is higher than the value of the fish caught, as with drilling for oil. As for markets lacking the dimension of time.....anyone ever heard of futures markets?

Must have been some good drugs at these meetings, eh?

There does not need to be a trade-off between the economy and the environment, simply
the retuning of growth to take account of environmental health. This will best be done by pricing
carbon into the equation as the most effective surrogate for environmental cost.

That's actually sensible. Pigou taxes. Great....now, let's see if they actually manage to stick to that idea. Doubt they will somehow.

Christ, next section they reject it already.

Simply cleaning up existing lifestyles and patterns of economic growth will not take us far enough, not
least if we are to achieve equitable global development within the natural limits of the planet. After all,
if everyone on Earth equalled the resource consumption of our citizens here in the UK, it would take
three planets to support us. If we all aspired to US patterns it would demand five planets.

Friggin' idiots. That's from the environmental footprints studies. The largest part of the land needed there is to recycle CO2. Which, as above, we've already solved by pricing carbon into the market. So you can't then go on to use the requirements for recycling CO2 to suggest that this won't be enough.

Do these people actually read the reports they're referring to?

I'm going to have to stop doing this in a moment as I really can't cope with much more of this nonsense. One last piece:

Environmental tax reform; price the use of carbon; ensure that the true costs of transport are paid by
the user; incentivise the building of green homes; introduce strict rules on the energy-efficiency of
everything from consumer technology to power stations; institute a significant moratorium on new
road and airport building.

Yes to one, yes to two....hmmm. Who are the only travellers who do not currently pay the true costs of their transport? Anyone? Cars are, under Stern's numbers, over-taxed, so it's not them. Aircraft, with the recent rise in Air Passenger Duty are correctly taxed. Well, that leaves public transport, the railways, buses and The Tube. For passengers here do not pay the true costs, they're subsidized from the general revenue stream. So, they're proposing the slashing of public transport subsidies! Excellent, a Tory policy at last. Although, to be honest, I don't think they quite mean this as I don't think they are actually capable of following their own logic. Numbers 4,5 and 6 are entirely unneccessary: by getting carbon correctly priced into the market you don't actually need any of these other restrictions. That's really rather the point of doing it.

About the only possible conclusion here is that I hope like hell that no one takes their policy recommendations seriously.

September 13, 2007 in Environmentalism | Permalink

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Tracked on Sep 13, 2007 8:37:31 PM

Comments

"For passengers here do not pay the true costs, they're subsidized from the general revenue stream. So, they're proposing the slashing of public transport subsidies! Excellent, a Tory policy at last."

But isn't there a second-best economic justification for Pigovian subsidies for urban buses in the absence of appropriate road pricing to reduce traffic congestion. To my to own knowledge, there has long been a Conservative lobby in rural areas for subsidies to support rural bus and train routes for social reasons - remember: the late Nicholas Ridley - arch-Thatcherite - persisted in opposing rail privatization because he thought that the railways would always need to be subsidised and that accountability would be more effective by maintaining public ownership.

And I certainly don't understand why it's so ridiculous and anti-Conservative to have local discretion for levying charges in supermarket car parks.

The vitriolic personal attacks made by some Conservative MPs on the co-authors of the policy report suggests to me that the former should be r5apidly put on a fast-track to deselection for their ignorance and opposition to open and honest debate about policy. They are totally unfitted to be MPs.

Posted by: Bob B | Sep 13, 2007 1:59:18 PM

"Raw materials came free?"

If we define "raw materials" as "materials produced by nature and not by human work" (a forest being a "raw material" but the lumber not), raw materials, by definition, came free.

Posted by: Miguel | Sep 13, 2007 2:42:30 PM

"To my to own knowledge, there has long been a Conservative lobby in rural areas for subsidies to support rural bus and train routes for social reasons - remember: the late Nicholas Ridley - arch-Thatcherite - persisted in opposing rail privatization because he thought that the railways would always need to be subsidised and that accountability would be more effective by maintaining public ownership."

MP supports policy that takes money from people who can't vote for him, to give it to people who can?

Posted by: Tim Almond | Sep 13, 2007 9:59:10 PM

What have these people been smoking?

What f***ing schools did they go to, more like.

Posted by: Mark Wadsworth | Sep 13, 2007 11:15:31 PM

Tim - For the Conservatives, the electoral calculations in this are complex and finely balanced. IMO it's likely that many of the new tax/fiscal proposals, for a greener Conservatism based on the polluter pays principle, would differentially hit potential Conservative voters. With due respect to them, they are more likely to have bigger cars and to be flying away to (more) distant places for business or on holiday so these environment-friendly policy proposals are a real test of how deep runs the commitment to a new Conservatism.

However, the shires tend to vote Conservative and they have been differentially hit by higher petrol/fuel prices - which are likely (?) to be with us for the foreseeable. But even so, I gather that in real terms public transport fares have been rising faster that motoring costs, which spells increasing immiseration for ageing retirees living in rural areas if they don't or won't have access to personal transport and when the frequency of public transport services is not only low compared with urban areas but which could cease altogether if subsidies are cut.

I've no car but then I live in London where public transport is fairly frequent - my understanding (subject to correction) is that in many rural areas in Britain, we are talking about one bus service a day/week, which is why we had all the (understandable) concerns about the prospective closure of rural post offices.

Of one thing we can be absolutely sure: simplistic, sweeping slogans will not facilitate progress towards reaching sensible policy proposals - and for the record, I tend to be a sceptic on environmental issues and also believe that much environmentalism is closer to fundamentalist religion than to policy based on evidence and rational analysis.

As for parking charges on supermarket car parks - has anyone noticed the typical geography of our local shopping centres and high streets nowadays? You'll find lots of take-aways, restaurants and bars, banks, estate agents, charity shops, hairdressers, the occasional furniture shop and news agents with not much else because the large superstores sell almost everything. Is that what we want?

Posted by: Bob B | Sep 13, 2007 11:37:33 PM

Bob B,

"As for parking charges on supermarket car parks - has anyone noticed the typical geography of our local shopping centres and high streets nowadays? You'll find lots of take-aways, restaurants and bars, banks, estate agents, charity shops, hairdressers, the occasional furniture shop and news agents with not much else because the large superstores sell almost everything. Is that what we want?"

If councils didn't treat motorists with contempt, then perhaps we'd get a lot more shops back into town.

Many councils have deliberately introduced policies to force motorists onto buses to go to town, the result being that people with the means to have a car go to a supermarket or out-of-town store (hence why so much shopping is also pound and charity shops).

Posted by: Tim Almond | Sep 14, 2007 9:54:00 AM

The trouble, Tim, is that I was thinking of what has happened over the past few years to the high street in my local shopping centre where there is extensive provision for off-street car parking near by - with a parking charge - as well as a limited amount of free, short-stay on-street parking.

Small shops can't withstand competition the superstores, one of which is on the same high street although I regularly take a short bus trip to a Tesco superstore about 2 miles away which is the largest Tesco branch store in Britain (true) and where there is ample free parking.

Posted by: Bob B | Sep 14, 2007 12:08:19 PM

Miguel:

The standing tree might qualify as "free" but there's still a cost to getting where it's standing and further costs before it's in a position to be converted toward lumber. If it's free, it's not an economic good; if it's an economic good, it's not free.

Tim:

Surprised that you hadn't pointed out that, as long as no-one knew what scandium was, scandium was "free." Once its existence (and the fact that it had a few uses) was discovered, it was no longer free. (Quite to the contrary, it attracted the ravenous attention of evil monopolists intent on denying its free abundance except on their own extortionate terms.)

A side note: the existence of the tree-forests themselves may appear to us as a "given" (by nature) but that's not an undisputed fact. Ecologists (population-studiers) of as much as 50 years ago found that forests, especially those in temperate zones, were the result of the deliberate activity of prehistoric men and, thus, a form of inherited wealth. The typical "end-state" vegetation of these areas is of the type called "scrub," which was burned off to produce tree-forests.

Posted by: gene berman | Sep 14, 2007 3:29:51 PM

I know you probably hear this everyday but you're an idiot. It's not cool to spread twisted words that confuse people. However it is cool to educate others. It goes along with that old saying of if you have nothing nice to say don't say it at all. Don't suck and be part of the problem. Use your intelligence and power to do good and think a little about your actions. Dumbass.
Thank you for your time.

Posted by: Katie | Feb 28, 2008 8:11:41 AM

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