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Climate precrimes

Chris Hope's one-man struggle to get a carbon tax put in place in the UK is given another airing in the Guardian. There's not much that readers haven't heard before, except that he puts a figure of £6bn per annum on it. It's a pity that there is no mention of the fact that Pigou taxes are supposed to be revenue neutral, but this is the Guardian we are talking about.

It's a funny thing though. Hope is arguing that shareholders in fossil fuels companies should be punished to the tune of £6bn to compensate unidentified individuals for costs that may or may not be incurred in the future (and despite the fact that for many years to come these costs are actually expected to be benefits). It's all rather reminiscent of the concept of a precrime, with something of the flavour of an extortion racket about it too.

Perhaps the answer is for those academics, activists and politicians who advocate these policies to put their pensions into an escrow account, to be released to them (or their heirs) as and when the predictions on which they want to pin other people's financial futures turn out to be correct.


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Reader Comments (17)

I disagree. I find Hope's reasoning the way to go, provided that it is supplemented by the best possible science that is, includig the science of whatever benefits conventional fuels are bringing.

It is a minefield for your average warmist, as they quickly realise that the most fair level of taxation is likely to be more or less zero at the moment and for years to come.

So in a sense Hope is exposing the AGW catch-22...if they are serious about climate change they need follow Hope's route. But Hope's route undermines all hopes (pun) of societal change.

I am sure many have seen the ETS and they have not liked what they have seen.

Jan 27, 2014 at 8:13 AM | Registered Commenteromnologos

Talking about pre- crimes
On Sunday, farmers in Somerset held a demonstration against the Environment Agency accusing them of failing to dredge the rivers, which they say has exacerbated the flooding.

Bridgwater and West Somerset MP Ian Liddell-Grainger told BBC Radio 4's Today programme about the River Parrett: "Once it's dredged we can then maintain it but the Environment Agency has to stop this mucking around and get on with it."

He dismissed as "pathetic" the Environment Agency's claims that the rain would have overwhelmed the river system even if it had dredged the waterways.

"It is an absolutely ridiculous excuse," he said. "This never flooded to this level ever in living memory, and we've got people who have been here for a long time. If you look back into the mists of time you don't have this."

Well I suppose the Environment Agency are doing a good job protecting newts?

Jan 27, 2014 at 8:38 AM | Unregistered CommenterStacey

The EA 'want' loads of flooding, because it fits the 'climate weirding' narrative. If nature won't oblige, then a bit of mismanagement will give similar effects to thermageddon.

Jan 27, 2014 at 8:53 AM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

Fine, and lets have all the world's 'progressive' parties punished to compensate those who inevitably will suffer financially from the unforeseen but inevitably bad consequences of policies founded on a set of completely false premises. I'm sure the former head boy of 'fair shares for all', the $15 million a year man, Tony Blair, would be happy to set the fund rolling.

Jan 27, 2014 at 9:11 AM | Unregistered Commenterbill

Chris Hope, a veritable Patient Zero in the field of nominative determinism.

Jan 27, 2014 at 9:18 AM | Unregistered Commenterchippy

8:38 AM Stacey
No surprise to folk cynical about the BBC - complaining farmers nicely tucked away in the middle of that online piece. Contrast the treatment of farmers and other locals who have their houses flooded and livelihoods severely damaged with the coverage given to anti-fracking in Manchester - where there's not even any fracking going on.....

The ghastly quango queen Barbara Young makes an appearance in this piece - how long before the BBC gives her a pulpit? IIRC she's on record when EA chairperson as saying she wants to destroy all the drainage infrastructure and flood the entire area? (can't find the quote atm...)

Jan 27, 2014 at 10:09 AM | Registered Commentertomo

Is this one of those rare occurrences of the failure of hope over experience?

Jan 27, 2014 at 10:23 AM | Unregistered CommenterHarry Passfield


Unfortunately it's not only the Guardian that is going off the deep end on 'carbon taxes" - which is merely par for the course over there.

Have a look at the article on European climate policies in this week's The Ecomomist, which after concluding that the EU's climate policies are all over the map and worse than useless [I couldn't agree more with that part], goes on to advocate wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling carbon taxes as the only viable way forward.

That from the very same newspaper that in 2013 noted that “The world added roughly 100 billion tonnes of carbon to the atmosphere between 2000 and 2010. That is about a quarter of all the CO₂ put there by humanity since 1750." And that "yet, as James Hansen, the head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, observes, ‘the five-year mean global temperature has been flat for a decade.’”

So while during the period in which more than a quarter of all the anthropogenic CO2 was released in the atmosphere, all meaningful temperature metrics stubbornly flat lined, and continue to do so [according to UAH data, SSTs may actually be falling], The Economist brilliantly proposes carbon taxes as a "solution".

And their editorial board still can't see why on this topic in any event, the newspaper has the same fundamental credibility problem as the Guardian.

Jan 27, 2014 at 10:28 AM | Unregistered Commentertetris

The existing green taxes are obviously very effective since they have brought global warming to a stop. Let's congratulate the greens on their success but tell them enough is enough. Any more green taxes and we will have another ice age!

Jan 27, 2014 at 11:31 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

Jan 27, 2014 at 8:38 AM | Stacey

I caught the very end of piece on this on another radio station this morning. Someone - don't know if it was the MP or a local farmer - was saying 'we should get rid of this useless quango, the Environment Agency' and claiming that the river hadn't beed dredged since 1996. Let us loook after it, as we looked after it for the previous 1000 years' he went on to say, or similar such words.

Jan 27, 2014 at 12:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterDaveS

ask Julia Gillard how it will pan out

- When someone does something wrong you present the evidence in a court of law and prosecute them ..That's JUSTICE
- However if you don't have evidence you don't have proper evidence that will stand up in court, you can come up with some twisted idea of balance.
1. Give their competitors a huge subsidy. That's INJUSTICE

and now he has this idea to 2. Brainwash some politicians into changing the law
more taxes ? ..what when the energy taxes are going so well ? I thought the EU are set to back down (reported on BBC)
- Since tax rises mean price rises it does mean bigger profits for the companies (higher profit on the same margin), but it hurts the people and thru them the politicians ..not likely ..

Jan 27, 2014 at 12:46 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

Isn't it time that carbon, and its inoffensive derivative carbon dioxide, was - once and for all - freed from being the prime suspect in any argument about climate change..?

Or is this argument going to go down the same route as 'miasma' (bad air) being the Victorian politicians' avowed belief as being the cause of typhoid..?

Jan 27, 2014 at 1:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterSherlock1

Hope is arguing that shareholders in fossil fuels companies should be punished to the tune of £6bn to compensate unidentified individuals for costs that may or may not be incurred in the future (and despite the fact that for many years to come these costs are actually expected to be benefits). It's all rather reminiscent of the concept of a precrime, with something of the flavour of an extortion racket about it too.

There's no need to make any analogy to 'precrime'. Nicking the spare tyre from someone's car without them noticing is an act which may or may not impose costs on them in the future while benefiting them in the meantime, by reducing their petrol bills. It's quite apparent nonetheless why this is the kind of act that we would want to discourage. Nor does it particularly matter if the costs are diffused untraceably among a large group of people, just as any individual factory's contribution to the Beijing smog is. If the best assessment of what we presently know about the science and the economic impacts leads to a sufficiently firm conclusion that carbon emissions must be reduced by x amount, then the appropriate level of carbon taxes is a reasonable way—likely the best way—to achieve that. (For one thing, it's a much more free-market approach than having politicians try to pick winners (or reward chums) in the renewables industry.) Of course that 'if' is a very big 'if', but that's a whole different question.

Jan 27, 2014 at 4:42 PM | Unregistered Commenteranonym

Carbon Tax almost as good as Millibands 50% tax increase and as popular.

Got to pay for the lazy losers who live on Benefits Street somehow.

Jan 27, 2014 at 5:44 PM | Unregistered Commenterjamspid

The article says: Under the Institute of Directors' central production estimate and with a central methane leakage rate of 2%, the tax revenues for the UK will be about £6bn per year in current prices by the time shale really gets going in the latter half of the 2020s."

However, the half-life of methane in the atmosphere is only about a decade, so incidental release of methane during production today will raise temperatures over the next few decades (assisting the cause of alarmists) and probably producing social benefits over the short-term. Doesn't that suggest that frackers should be paid for the short-term environmental benefits they produce? The long-term damage produced by only 2% of natural gas turning into CO2 over the next several decades is minimal compared to the long-term damage produced by 98% of the gas being burned to CO2 in the same year it is produced.

The alarmists who advocate strict controls on methane emissions right now (mostly because it is politically feasible) have picked the least sensible target. If - at some point in the future - the pause ends and rapid global warming return us to +0.2 degC/decade, we will be able to reduce methane emissions quickly enough to do some good. The situation is far different for carbon dioxide: We are emitting enough CO2 from fossil fuels to raise CO2 by 4 ppm/yr, but only 2 ppm is accumulating in the atmosphere and the rest is disappearing into sinks. Accumulation which is 50% of emissions has been the norm for a half century. Cutting emissions by roughly 50% would stabilize atmospheric carbon dioxide at 400 ppm and a half-century of no emissions would presumably reverse the history of the last half-century.

Jan 27, 2014 at 8:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterFrank

Carbon Taxes:
How do we stop the 'cooling' resulting from carbon taxes? Just reverse the taxation?


Jan 28, 2014 at 3:13 AM | Unregistered Commentermetro

It bears pointing out again and again that we actually have too much carbon tax in the UK already, given the intention. The Stern report, which is what this whole argument is based on, sets the appropriate level at something less than the total tax take on fuel in this country.

The correct thing to do, carbon-tax wise, is to cut petrol and diesel taxes somewhat and raise taxes on gas and electricity, and overall to decrease the total tax take by a small percentage. And that's if you accept every word of the justification for having a carbon tax at all, and the costs of 'carbon emissions' and so-on.

They're all either stupid or dishonest.

Jan 29, 2014 at 2:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterDave

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