Debunking the Great Carbon Tax hype

Britain's anti-carbon war has hiked taxes, provided a windfall for government, driven up energy costs, hobbled industry competitiveness, and dumped masses into fuel poverty. Where's the benefit?

Are we wasting out time reducing our "footprints"?
Peter C. Glover
On 23 July 2012 14:08

Equally, “The cumulative effect of all of these feedbacks is something we simply don’t know”.  Is it me? Or, as a call to action, is it so shot through with wildly uncertain caveats that it is not worth getting out of bed for?

TW ploughs on concerning how the UN IPCC – a political organisation already furiously back-peddling on previous alarmist claims – believes a global temperature rise could be “in the 2 to 4.5 degree range”. Again, bemusingly, Worstall insists, “It is this ‘we don’t know’ that leads to needing to do something. Economists call this uncertainty, and the correct and reasonable reaction to uncertainty is insurance”.

Bottom line: “The science tells us there is uncertainty; uncertainty is an economic problem to be solved through economic methods”. Strange, but I have always thought “uncertainty” called for caution before taking action – and that insurance policies are normally taken out in the face of proven threats.

No matter, as Worstall’s ‘third way’ is merely the Warmists ‘precautionary principle’ dressed up as an ‘economic solution’; the same kind of ‘solution’ posited by the green lobbies for years. 

The spurious nature of Worstall’s argument gets worse-still (pun intended).  TW rightly identifies that we Brits are already paying the equivalent of a carbon tax via a raft of green taxes, which include levies on fuel, air travel, electricity bills, to be but a small number. He points out that while UK emissions stand at around the 500-million-ton mark Brits currently pay around $80 per tonne, a figure that could be a starting point for a new carbon tax.

Unfortunately, TW omits to also point out that Britain’s extensive green tax regime is an abject failure. It has actually had zero impact on Britain’s carbon footprint which, during the tenure of green taxes, actually saw emissions increase by 20 percent. What it is has achieved is an unprecedented windfall for government coffers, some of which has subsidized Britain’s frivolous and costly renewable energy projects.

In addition Britain’s domestic electricity bills* are now among the highest in Europe, badly skewing – something that should rankle with TW’s ASI think-tank associates – free market power costs.  

Equally, as a recent US report, Dissecting the Carbon Tax, points out, globally speaking: “There would be virtually no environmental benefits to unilateral greenhouse gas emission reductions by developed countries ... while developing countries are pouring out virtually every kind of pollutant with joyous abandon.”

But if economics really is TW’s higher concern, he perhaps ought to read the recently published report from the European Institute for Climate and Energy. In it EU Parliamentarian Herbet Reul states that computer models predict Germany’s green isolationist energy policy could cost a mammoth €2 trillion+ to achieve a mere 0.0003oC impact on temperature.  And even then, of course, any impact would be “uncertain” – that word again.

With Berlin’s anti-carbon-renewable subsidy regime having helped 15 percent of Germans into fuel poverty, with households facing a further rise of €175 billion in fuel costs and Germany’s power grid teetering on collapse, it is no wonder German politicians fear a voter backlash.  

UK politicians too are aware of the ‘political risk’ inherent in pushing anti-carbon measures. Precisely why some scientists now suggest ‘suspending democracy’ altogether – ah yes, tyranny – as the only realistic way of imposing a global carbon tax without governments being voted out of office.

Britain (and Germany’s) anti-carbon war has actually succeeded only in hiking taxes, providing a windfall for government, driving up energy costs, hobbling industry competitiveness, costing jobs and dumping half a million people into fuel poverty while having precisely zero impact on carbon emissions. Tim Worstall’s ‘solution’ proposes the assimilation of the pestilence of (failed and financially sapping) green taxes into a socially ubiquitous carbon ‘poll’ tax toward what, as even Worstall admits, is an entirely  “uncertain” end of ‘man-made’ climate manipulation.  

Or put more succinctly: translate the unworkable into the unacceptable to achieve the delusional.

For a fuller debunking of the anti-science case against carbon dioxide read ‘Energy and Climate Wars’ (Continuum, 2011) by Peter C Glover and Michael J. Economides

* Last time I had contact with him, TW was living in Portugal so their imposition may not even be troubling him

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