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Thursday, 25 October 2007

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Oh dear! I was impressed also when I saw Lomberg talking about this around the time of the Jo'burg summit (which must have been about the time of Skeptical Environmentalist).

I have to say that one of the "numbers" he gave last time round really stuck in my head - when he talks about spending money making life better for vast numbers of people - seemed a no-brainer - $200bn would be enough, he said, to provide clean water infrastructure to the third of the planet who do not have it at the moment.

I am worried about the direction of policy in these areas - when there was a TV "expose" on global warming fears they made the point that us not allowing parts of the developing world to share in the most basic amenities because they might be carbon generating was imperialistic.

If one of the biggest threats to the ability of the planet to sustain humanity is the population growth, and poopulation growth can be linked to lack of economic security and things like education, then surely that's the place to start.

I am kind of skeptical. But equally, I don't think you're right in your comment on my site about high green taxes affecting the poor disproportionately; a third of UK households don't own a car, and they tend to be the poorer third; and airline taxes will affect the weekend city breaker rather than the once a year package holidaymaker. The former tend to be affluent.

Hi Jock

I think the idea about the poor suffering goes like this.

In order to make Kyoto work there have to be massive increases in carbon taxes in all areas. Even though the direct burden is carried by the big polluters - the rich in both rich and poor countries - the poor everywhere carry an indirect burden as well as a direct one.

In the UK this would be due to:
• higher costs of the transport and other costs of the goods poor people buy
• the slower growth of the economy and that effect on their jobs and incomes.
A similar and much greater pain will be suffered by the poor in the developing world:
• the rich cut back on their expenditure on goods from those countries
• their own economies grow more slowly
• the rich faced with costs of green taxes and lower incomes will be more reluctant to spend money on aid

The other point is that the rich are rich enough to bear small tax increases so they will be ineffective in bringing down emissions enough to make any meaningful difference so the taxes will have to be very high and they will really hurt everyone very badly. The poorer you are the less well able you will be able to cope.

And then the real killer. Less money in a poorer world will mean there is less to spend when better technologies to deal with global warming become available. It will have been wasted on
futile attempts to tackle the problem with a Kyoto style solution, the costs of which vastly outweigh the benefits.

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