How to fix climate alarm

Economists have proposed really effective solutions to the high levels of anxiety felt by politicians and government officials about the risks of transport sector emissions.

The New Zealand Government’s plan to legislate for “Zero Carbon by 2050” has been accompanied by economic modelling that shows the NPV of the economic costs will be huge. See Putting a price on the hair shirt.

Tailrisk Economics, a private firm, has now delivered a devastating critique of both the quality and veracity of the Government’s modelling and consultation documents. The price of feeling good is a must-read for anybody interested in this issue.

Tailrisk points out that the sole purpose of this policy is to influence other countries – like China, India and the USA – to pursue more ambitious climate policies. But, they suggest, there are cheaper and better ways to influence world opinion. I want to share three of their alternative solutions, as all could be readily adopted by any of the signatories to the Paris Agreement:

“A ban on government business class air travel

A business class traveller generates three times the emissions of an economy class traveller. There should be an absolute ban on business class travel by all government officials (including politicians). This has several advantages.

  • It would get international attention.
  • It would be domestically popular. Most people would support a policy that would require politicians and bureaucrats to put their butts where their mouths are. This would promote social solidarity.
  • It would save money.
  • It would reduce incentives to go on junkets.

“A ban on travel to climate change conferences

The technology exists to attend a conference virtually. New Zealand would send a signal that it was serious about climate change by using this technology to reduce emissions from international travel. This would have the co-benefits mentioned above. It would also address a divergence between social and private benefits. The policy elite that attends these conferences gets a private benefit from mixing with like-minded colleagues, and the need to gain social acceptance may bias their judgments to the detriment of New Zealand interests.

“Domestic travel

All government employees (and politicians) would be required to travel to and from Wellington airport by electric bike (or manual if they wish). There could be exceptions on medical grounds, but to reduce the incidence of abuse, there would be a requirement for (named) exceptions to be posted on line, together with the reason for the exemption. In addition to the benefits already mentioned there are the following co-benefits.

  • Government employees and politicians would become healthier.
  • New Zealand would secure a competitive advantage by innovating to make electric bikes and bike clothing more ‘business friendly’.”

The price of feeling good, Tailrisk Economics (p. 39)

The reference to co-benefits is a riff on the IPCC’s insistence that emission-reduction policies deliver a raft of extra benefits in terms of improved health, income equality, gender equity, world peace, etc., that should be taken into account by those who might be so foolish as to apply cost-benefit analysis to such policies.

2 Thoughts on “How to fix climate alarm

  1. Ian Cooper on November 21, 2018 at 3:08 pm said:

    If these ideas were put to a referendum they would win in a landslide! So no chance of that or of the pollies doing this on their own volition. Yeah right. Fat chance of that!

  2. Alexander K on November 21, 2018 at 8:04 pm said:

    “Let’s do this” is all about virtue signalling rather than intelligent action and is an insane method of managing a country. But brain-dead Socialism appears to be the norm promoted by the UN along with anyone and everyone who aspires to become part of that organisation. What the people want (or need) has become a n inconvenient irrelevance to our rulers.
    Servants of the people – NOT!!

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