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Ross McKitrick: an evidence-based approach to pricing CO2 emissions - cartoon notes by Josh

Here are my cartoon notes of a paper presented today by Prof Ross McKitrick, hosted by The GWPF in one of the committee rooms in the House of Lords, Westminster, London, UK. The title is "An evidence-based approach to pricing CO2 emissions" and you can download the PDF here. It was intellectually stretching, intriguing and elegant. Ross' brilliance is that he makes the complicated sound simple.

Simple is great for a cartoonist but my notes, such as they are, barely cover what Ross said. I hope that when the video is online or you read the PDF, all will become clear. The Q&A session was good too with contributions from Matt Ridley, Briony Worthington, Chris Rapley, Piers Corbyn and many others, so I will post an update as soon as the video/audio is available.


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Cartoons by Josh

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Reader Comments (19)

Brilliant, Josh as usual. I look forward to listening when available.
The thought of Bryony Worthington debating Ross Mc makes me chuckle.

Jul 3, 2013 at 11:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterG.Watkins

My two pence on Ross's idea is to forget about it. It makes a good point but is too clever by half. We do not need a carbon tax that is tied to a natural random variable which will then be buggered to make it increase artifically.

Jul 4, 2013 at 12:33 AM | Unregistered CommenterNoblesse Oblige

Jul 4, 2013 at 12:33 AM | Noblesse Oblige


Jul 4, 2013 at 1:03 AM | Unregistered CommenterStreetcred

Josh, thanks again for giving those of us who are profoundly geographically-challenged the wondrous benefits of your "next best thing to being there" cartoon-captures.

And they're in living colour, too, so we know they weren't ...uh ... "carbon captures" - or even (what would nowadays be considered) anachronistic "carbon copies";-)

P.S. I am sooooo enjoying the July page of your calendar ... in which you gave your rendering - and my blog-adopted iconic mascot - of the UN's a-MAZE-ing place "top billing", so to speak: While not the largest of your images of the month, its position - along with the upward trend of the upper "boundary" - warms the cockles of my heart!

Jul 4, 2013 at 3:03 AM | Registered CommenterHilary Ostrov

If carbon tax is the answer then what was the question?

Jul 4, 2013 at 6:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterJack Hughes

From the Ecclesiastical Uncle, an old retired bureaucrat in a field only remotely related to climate with minimal qualifications and only half a mind.

Why does RMcC spent time optimizing a tax regime for emissions that are widely held to be beneficial to plant life and hence humankind? And that maybe should be subsidized.

Jul 4, 2013 at 7:12 AM | Unregistered CommenterEcclesiastical Uncle

I think when Ross presented this idea a long while ago it was at the time of the great furore. We were all going to die, the hockey team were in full flow and windmills were rising and at ten a day. This was Ross' attempt (and an excellent one) to point the loonies in another direction. A more realistic direction. Unfortunately his idea does not provide the Oblarnys of this world with enough taxes to pay his cronies for the $billions it cost to get him to the WH.

Jul 4, 2013 at 8:48 AM | Unregistered CommenterStephen Richards

If carbon tax is hte answer it was a P....Poor question!!


Jul 4, 2013 at 8:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterBulaman

I guess my issue is with legitimising discussion of the concept of a CO2 emissions tax at all. It's not a scientifically legitimate target for discussion in my opinion and, although essentially you can glean this very point from Ross's presentation, to actually do so requires paying attention to the minutiae and then taking a broad step back.

But hardly anyone does that. The *simple* impression is, instead, that "McKitrick thinks we need a carbon tax." And if there's one thing the alarmies respond to, it's *simple*.

Jul 4, 2013 at 9:48 AM | Registered CommenterSimon Hopkinson

McKitrick was to be commended for his work with McIntyre for exposing Mann's rubbish statistical analysis.

But discussions of tax on carbon emissions is something the world does not need. Nature itself emits CO2 that vastly outweighs the human contribution both in magnitude and variability. You might equally well discuss taxes on emission of visible light.

Jul 4, 2013 at 10:20 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Ross is not in habit of flying back and forth to present crackpot ideas and what he proposed last night was not one. However, you needed to listen to what he said to understand what it is all about. He is on his way home now. Perhaps he might be invited in a day or two do a post here, invite criticisms and address them.

Jul 4, 2013 at 10:34 AM | Unregistered CommenterDavid Holland

It is now becoming obvious that human CO2 has NO effect on the climate at all. Instead of our small contribution pushing us over the edge of a delicately balanced system, it is lost in the noise of a robust stable system with huge sinks and balances.

The system oscillates, however, and temperatures go up and down. When they are down our biosphere doesn't do so well, and when they are up we flourish. McKitrick has effectively proposed a 'tax on well-being'. This will be familiar to politicians - they are happy to tax windfalls just because they can.

Incidentally, who will pay this 'temperature tax'? The CO2 emitters are not responsible for it at all - at the moment they would be paying LESS tax (as the temperature goes down) while CO2 concentrations become greater and greater - thus stressing the disconnect.

It is as if we were asked to pay income tax, not on our incomes, but on some other variable random figure, such as stock market indices. We would soon get pissed off if we were taxed more because the stock market had gone up...especially if we didn't have any stocks...

Jul 4, 2013 at 11:31 AM | Unregistered CommenterDodgy Geezer

David Holland (10.34 am) makes a good point. Ross McKitrick chooses his words carefully and it's worth reading them carefully. He has written a number of articles on the topic of carbon tax, for instance in 2007 at
I see no evidence that Ross wants to see any sort of carbon tax - what he is doing (as I see it) is drawing attention to the weakness of the case of those who want a carbon tax irrespective of the lack of evidence linking catastrophic climate change to CO2 emissions. He's calling their bluff.

Jul 4, 2013 at 12:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterColdish


...He's calling their bluff....

A dangerous thing to do with politicians. They do not operate in a predictable environment.

If I were to propose a new tax to a politician I would not be surprised at all if they ran with it. No matter how stupid it was....

Jul 4, 2013 at 12:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterDodgy Geezer

Very foolish and full of unintended consequences. I quite see where he is coming from but too Machiavellian.

Jul 4, 2013 at 1:37 PM | Registered Commenterdennisa

Carbon dioxide is a benefit, not an evil. If money has to change hands it were better that those who are good enough to supply what is nothing less than a miracle gas which is currently decidedly scarce were rewarded, not penalised by every means possible. In reality of course there should be no such meddling on one side or the other and to suggest to politicians a devilishly cunning new form of meddling is likely to encourage more crass stupidity and end up backfiring horribly. The only thing politicians need to be encouraged to do is .... desist and get the hell out.

Jul 4, 2013 at 4:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartin Reed

Josh - your CSS style needs tweaking

" <style>
html,body {
margin: 0;
padding: 0;
height: 100%; <------- Doing this removes the ability to scroll (image and window are same height so no vert scroll option), and the image is larger than the screen is tall. Let the browser sort out the vert size.

Jul 5, 2013 at 7:21 AM | Unregistered Commenterdp

You get to tax C02 output if and only if temperature rises (beyond historical average post-LIA warming trends) in proportion to it. Otherwise nada.

Pols and warmists strongly suspect (correctly) they would get nada.

Jul 7, 2013 at 6:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterBrian H

I admire Ross for being willing to advance a creative "compromise". However, I fear he is assuming people on both sides are interested in compromise; I am pretty sure they are not. Those who want to force large emissions reductions want that outcome unconditionally, independent of whether or not it will make any difference in tropical tropospheric temperatures. Most of those opposed either don't trust any such plan would be fairly implemented, or don't believe CO2 can possibly cause warming. Utipias may exist in the hypothetical, but reality is quite different. The regulatory burden for CO2 emissions controls will be maibly determined by the politics, not by a reasoned compromise. Few are interested in a reasoned compromise, least of all the politicians who would have to agree to such a compromise.

Jul 8, 2013 at 1:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterSteve Fitzpatrick

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