Climate madness from Richard Denniss

Climate nonsense

Writing in The Australian, the executive director of the Australia Institute, Richard Denniss, is taken in by impressive looking reports from economists about how we should tackle climate change:

Diplomacy aside, it’s in Australia’s interests to cut emissions as quickly as possible. The advice from Nicholas Stern, Ross Garnaut and most economists is that early efforts to reduce emissions will be cheaper than delayed efforts. A stitch in time will save nine. So where should Australia start?

Even the climate sceptics should agree the first step is the abolition of the billions of dollars worth of perverse subsidies and tax loopholes that encourage the consumption of fossil fuels. When individuals buy petrol, they pay 38c a litre in fuel excise. Airlines don’t. And Fringe Benefits Tax arrangements ensure that the more you drive a company car, the bigger the tax savings are.

Surely it makes sense to stop paying the polluters before we implement a polluter pays scheme.

The second thing the government needs to do is to start shutting down Australia’s brown coal-fired power stations, which are among the most polluting in the world. Climate Change Minister Penny Wong likes to talk about creating a low-carbon economy but the reality is the government’s Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme will neither result in a reduction in Australia’s emissions compared with today’s levels or lead to a single coal-fired power station shutting down. What we should do is increase the size of the renewable energy target and start building gas-fired power stations on the sites of the existing brown-coal power stations.

I have never understood why people continually say “it’s in Australia’s interest” to cut emissions. Cutting emissions isn’t in any country’s interest if that country values its standards of living, the health of its economy and seeks to alleviate poverty. But it’s a price that may have to be paid in order to assuage the demands of radical environmentalists. And then there are the weighty tomes. Denniss is an economist too, so it’s not surprising he places so much faith in other economists, but the Stern report was, to quote Lawrence Solomon, “a comic mishmash of bad math, bad faith and worst-case scenarios treated as overwhelming probabilities.” Garnaut’s was much the same. To base policy on that kind of hyperbole is madness. Add that to the punishing cost of replacing coal with hugely expensive alternatives for electricity generation and you have a recipe for certain economic disaster. And to what end? To reduce global emissions by three fifths of sod-all.

Read it here.


  1. God save us from yet another economist masquerading as a Climate Expert.

    What would really be “in Australia’s interests” would be for our low-wattage politicians (and their attendant economists) to insist that the ‘scientists’ produce some EVIDENCE that GHG emissions cause dangerous cliimate change.

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