Nordhaus: a Nobel for over-discounting, and no public goods

Nordhaus has gotten a Nobel for understating the damage from climate change, and overstating the cost of doing anything about it. Continue reading

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OECD’s bad news on carbon tax is hopelessly optimistic

Layers of bad news: OECD says carbon pricing is far too low to fight global warming – an 80% shortfall! But peel back the layers and the story is much worse. The cost of carbon they use for that calculation is seriously low-balled, so the real shortfall should be much higher. And then, deep in the OECD report, we learn that the benefits of motor fuel tax are double-counted – it seems we already needed that money to pay for costs of traffic congestion, local air pollution, and people run over by cars, so there’s little, if anything, left for carbon pollution. Then, following up the OECD’s sources for that double-counting calculation we see that this, too, is understated – it completely ignores the multiplier effects of driving & damage from chasing pedestrians and cyclists off the road. And, finally, if we pay for all that environmental damage with fuel tax, who pays for the roads themselves?

The carbon pricing report is undoubtedly put together by people with a great concern about global warming and effective climate policy, and they’re delivering some bad news. Yet it is hard not to see it as an example of what Kevin Anderson (@kevinclimate) has described: that most of the policy and advocacy and even the science of climate change is presented in colossally over-optimistic scenarios. Let’s peel back the layers to see how that works. Continue reading

No graveyard: dockless bikes in Chengdu

Last November the Guardian reported on a vast graveyard of dockless bikes in the Chinese city of Xiamen. I’ve just come back from three weeks in Chengdu, capital of Sichuan province, and from what I saw in the Wenjiang district of that city, dockless bikes are alive and well. Here are some (plus a few personal bikes, each secured with a lock on one wheel and held up by a kickstand) outside a metro station. There are, I think, four companies active in that market. When I was in the same area four years ago, neither the metro station nor the dockless bikes existed – nor did many of the bike lanes now apparent. Nor, for that matter, the trees. Continue reading

Haringey Transport Strategy vs. Green Lanes Report, or, deference (again) to traffic

I’ve just had the pleasure of reading the London Borough of Haringey’s Transport Strategy 2018: Draft for Public Consultation, and also the final report for the borough’s Green Lanes Area Transport Study. Friday 22nd December – tomorrow – is the last day to comment on the draft Transport Strategy. What’s to be said?

The Strategy is full of worthy goals – improved public transport, better walking and cycling environment, reduced traffic, cleaner air. Gotta love it for that. These are all stated in extremely general terms, but a load of implementation plans are promised: a Walking and Cycling Action Plan, a Parking Action Plan, a Sustainable Transport and Travel Action Plan, and a Local Implementation Plan. Given all the virtuous aspirations expressed in the Strategy, one is tempted to sit back and wait for equally virtuous, but more specific, Plans.

This reverie of a green and pleasant Haringey lifts quickly on reading the Green Lanes report where, to pollute that image, the rubber hits the road. Continue reading

Too many buses?

(Short answer: no.) Hoisted from comments – in an earlier post I complained that TFL and Haringey Council were making “improvements” at Bruce Grove (that’s in Tottenham, north London) that make things worse for both buses and cycling. But some say London has too many buses. Continue reading