Tuesday, October 26, 2010

What the President said about stupid

Last week the President gave a talk.  He is a real president of a real country, albeit the country has a population of just twice that of Scotland.  

He is President Vaclav Klaus of the Czech Republic.  'Doing nothing is better than doing something stupid' is an aphorism he quotes approvingly in regard to current climate policy.

Here is his lecture delivered in London last week.  It repays a careful read.  And if you haven't time here are a few excerpts.

  •  It seems to me that the widespread acceptance of the global warming dogma has become one of the main, most costly and most undemocratic public policy mistakes in generations. 
  • What belongs here is our insisting upon the indisputable fact that there are respectable but highly conflicting scientific hypotheses concerning this subject. 
  • What also belongs here is our resolute opposition to the attempts to shut down such a crucial public debate concerning us and our way of life on the pretext that the overwhelming scientific consensus is there and that we have to act now. 
  • Yet the global warming alarmism and especially the public policy measures connected with it have been triumphally marching on. Even the recent worldwide financial and economic crisis and the enormous confusion, fear, as well as indebtedness it created did not stop this victorious “long march.”
  • The original ambition probably used to be saving the Planet for human beings but we see now that this target has gradually become less and less important. Many environmentalists do not pay attention to the fate of the people. They want to save the Planet, not mankind. They speak about Nature, not about men.
Emissions trading to emissions tax.  In August I described the version of cap and trade coming to

Edinburgh and noted that emissions trading, a key plank in the policy for reducing global emissions, was beginning to look like a step to far for an increasing number of countries.   I argued that it was unjustified and oppressively bureaucratic, unpopular and of doubtful effect.  

Last week's Comprehensive Spending Review to the rescue.  The complexities of the scheme have been  abandoned.  

Alas, the money, which would have been recycled to encourage low emitters, is now simply a tax to be pocketed by the Treasury.  One billion pounds per year. Currently at a provisional figure of £12 per tonne, the emissions tax rate can be set at any level.

Efficiency is important for industry, especially with the need to create wealth to get the country out of debt.  Efficiency will also help create jobs.  Emissions can often be pollutants and air quality is important.

But to raise taxes under the guise of tackling global warming?  Taxing organisations to reduce the debt would be more honest.  A straight and simple tax would be preferable, rather than complicated estimates of emissions which, as far as public organisations go, just recycle public money.

Doing nothing is better than doing something stupid.  The President's lecture is even more worth reading.

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