Tuesday, 31 October 2006

Stern green taxes

The Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change is a 700-page doorstopper commissioned by the Blair Government to have an effect on an international audience. It is a political document commissioned by politicians to justify political action -- and in Britain and here in New Zealand the 'Stern Gang' was all ready to hit the ground running with respectively "green taxes" and promises of "carrots and sticks" even before the report was released. The report takes the politicised science as read and unsurprisingly concludes with alarmist calls for government expansion. The UK's Scientific Alliance [Word Doc] "believes that Sir Nicholas’s talents have been misused."
His calculations are based on the output of complex computer models, all constructed on the assumption that average global temperatures are directly linked to atmospheric levels of greenhouse gases – in particular carbon dioxide. His estimates are doubtless correct for the scenarios presented, but we question the validity of the starting point.
As they drily note, "Not surprisingly, his conclusions are those which the government wanted..." Philip Chaston at the UK-based Samizdata blog gloomily summarises:

The Letter from David Miliband [PDF], the appointment of the political failure Al Gore and the report by Stern are all designed to provide the intellectual ballast for continued government expansion. These taxes are politically unpalatable and would be rejected by the electorate, if levied without green cover. Therefore, climate change and catastrophism are the reasons for a 'greener than thou' ratchet effect, where politicians use Britain and our money to puff themselves up as a moral example for others.

Since the science and the scenarios are still so uncertain, climate change has been adopted as the vanguard for further taxation and a curb on British consumerism. Using the expansion of the state and taxes, rather than market mechanisms, our politicians will dampen our economic growth, steal our wealth, and wrap us in their parasitical hairshirt. The only light in this gloom is that the British electorate may reject such alarmism and the example of our political stupidity will lead India and other nations to seek technological and free-market solutions that do not curb their march away from poverty.
Reaction from the public to the Stern Report, which is only officially released today, has not been entirely positive. This BBC forum is an example, with the more popular commenters expressing views like these:
  • Everyone in the country is sick to the back teeth of working just to pay ever increasing bills and taxes to this hopeless government.
  • We already have a green tax on cars. Its called petrol duty. And at 80% its already more than enough.
  • Typical government reaction: if you can't solve it, tax it.
  • It seems to me that this government has run out of ideas, and thinks that the failures of tax and spend, can be rectified with new and inifinitely more complex versions of exactly the same thing.
  • More taxes???? This really is the Government's answer to everything!
  • NO! Despite what the greenies would have you believe, there is NOT a consensus amongst climate scientists that humans have (or even can) affect the climate. The government is jumping on the green bandwagon because it allows them to increase taxes without taking the heat for it
Meanwhile, the Junk Science website has a useful round up of UK reactions to the report and to the "green taxes" proposed along with it.

LINKS: The Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change - HM Treasury, UK
Too Stern a view of climate change - Scientific Alliance (UK) [Word Doc]
Blair's last word on climate change - Samizdata
Miliband draws up green tax plans - BBC
Would you pay green taxes? - BBC forum
News and Commentary - Junk Science [scroll down a little to see the links of reactions]

RELATED: Politics-UK, Environment, Global Warming


  1. Shouldn't you be vaguely embarressed in making the inference that the Stern report was written to suit a certain politcal agenda when the evidence you present for the contrary view comes from similarly biased reports? I know I would.

  2. PC, can you point out exactly where in the Herlad Report (your link "sticks and carrots) the increased taxes for NZ are proposed?

    Also in the junkscience page, there is a linked article to The Independant concerning "ministaerial initiatives" in the UK. Can you please identify where the increased taxes are being proposed?


  3. Morthos, perhaps you'd like to provide more detail of your point? If you suggest I exhibit a "bias" towards freedom and against authoritarianism then I plead guilty, but is that your accusation?

    P-Style, you seem a trifle confused. I link both to the "sticks and carrots" comment given by Helen Clark in NZ and to the "green taxes" proposed by David Miliband in the UK. These are two separate things (at the moment at least), but as they've both out of the blocks almost simultaneously in reaction to the Stern Report it seems appropriate to report them together.

    However, while I don't doubt that "green taxes" will be on the agenda here in NZ in the form of both sticks and carrots (they already are in National's own climate change policies), I think you've confused what the link was promising. one went to local news, the other to UK news.

    You also seem a trifle confused when you ask, "please identify where the increased taxes are being proposed?" The proposed slate of "green taxes" in the UK are laid out by Miliband in the linked letter,and the BBC summary conveniently linked from the words "green taxes."

    They include suggested plans for "pay-as-you-drive" taxes, taxes on cheap flights, measures to combat "car use and ownership", a "substantial increase" in road tax, a new pay-per-mile pollution tax.

    All good authoritarian stuff.

  4. PC, the DomPost was full of this report yesterday. You could see the Greenie-Red cabal in every western capital city puff their chests out with their collective 'earth-saving' self-importance; the report being presented as outright fact. No direct mention that they're doing all this with our forcibly-taken money, of course. No siree.

    And I suspect that Tony Blair, having sullied his once-haloed reputation at home over Iraq and his close assn with Bush, and having all but confirmed his stepdown next year, will shamelessly use this to rebirth himself for posterity as Britain's environmental saviour.

    It's just politicians and bureaucrats behaving like, well, politicians and bureaucrats.

    No shortage of fuckwits to buy into its finality though, eh.

  5. "And I suspect that Tony Blair, having sullied his once-haloed reputation at home over Iraq and his close assn with Bush, and having all but confirmed his stepdown next year, will shamelessly use this to rebirth himself for posterity as Britain's environmental saviour."

    Yep, it's this decade's nuclear-free legislation isn't.

  6. What is wonderful is the food miles debate. Brilliant eye opener for kiwis. From my wish list.

  7. Can't the libertarianz do a press release in the form of: "If Stern is right, NZ should seriously consider taking pro-active steps in reducing the amount of goods it flies and ships accross the world. Limiting CO2 emission starts at home."

    And kiwis should be prepared to take the "going to live a simpler live" from Jeanette Fitzsimons seriously.

    We don't have to worry about investing in uranium anymore, because we won't have anything to emit.

    What a wonderful future.

  8. "Food miles" is utter garbage. In fact the only rant I have been paid for was about food miles.

    Now the taxpayer has been fleeced re the bird flu they are moving on to global warming...till a pharma coy makes enough money or whatever.

    Also you can blame my fat arse for global warming. I noticed this news last week, grumbled briefly, and then fixed myself a sandwich.

    As American waistlines have expanded since 1960, so has their consumption of gasoline, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Virginia Commonwealth University say. Americans are now pumping 938 million gallons of fuel more annually than they were in 1960 as a result of extra weight in vehicles.

  9. Global warming is an incomplete conclusion that has been pushed by the Green Peace, Treehuggers & fuckwit climate scientists who should have known better. Even scientists who have involved in drafting the IPCC report, most have narrowed expertise in advanced data analysis. If anyone want to look at the IPCC report , it is a disappointment , because their analysis methods were so, simple that one would mistake it for a sixth form essay. The models were like stage 1 Calculus & stage 1 Stats. Now, if it is so simple, then one could see that it is BULLSHIT.

  10. The Greens would love it in the UK, it is almost a universal "yes" to this. Essentially most of the media have responded to this by saying - "ok we must do this" with one or two exceptions.

  11. Can you delete my comment on this thread. I didnt realise I was so hated by you and your readers. My son read this page and said "Why does he hate you?", so I'm done with it.

  12. As they said on Penn & Teller's Bullshit in 2003 (which was recently repeated on Prime), global warming is "a load of bullshit". There is no hard evidence behind it.


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