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

Wood Green

The Haringey Council has published a set of ‘preferred options’ for Wood Green redevelopment (I’ll call it the Wood Green Plan, or “the plan”). It contains some good ideas but it stumbles badly in two key areas, and is largely silent on a third. The two areas on which it stumbles are open and green space, and road traffic. The area in which it is silent is any for of guarantee for the re-housing of people who would be removed Continue reading

Regional shelters from the global storm

Economic crisis brings public works programs, which are often slated as protectionist.  A public works program (albeit not a “shovel-ready” one) that might seem to be exempt from this criticism is the proposed low-altitude (i.e., all-weather) rail link between Argentina and Chile, subject of a recent a memorandum of understanding between the two governments (h/t Tyler Bridges, McClatchy). And it is certainly true that such a link would facilitate Chilean trade across the Atlantic and Argentinian trade across the Pacific.  The more important consequence, however, would be to facilitate regional integration within South America.  In keeping with the Pacific-facing orientation imposed by the Andes, Chile is an associate (i.e., peripheral) member of Mercosur; Argentina is a full member, along with Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay. The new rail link would bring Chile closer to the fold.