public policy




Governments just don’t seem to get it:

Green taxes to fund economic growth

Environmental taxation plans feature prominently in the Government’s growth strategy 

By Richard Tyler 6:04PM GMT 29 Nov 2010

The Government will set out in the New Year plans to raise environmental taxes to fund the country’s transformation to a low carbon economy, it has said.

The plans formed part of a joint Treasury and Business Department “growth review” launched yesterday that set out how Whitehall will “facilitate” long term economic growth.

You simply cannot tax your way to growth.

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The disconnect between economics and the environment is a common theme among the schemes promoted by environmentalists and politicians. Take curbside recycling:

Unlike commercial and industrial recycling — a thriving voluntary market that annually salvages tens of millions of tons of metal, paper, glass, and plastic — mandatory household recycling is a money loser. Cost studies show that curbside recycling can cost, on average, 60 percent more per ton than conventional garbage disposal…

“There is not a community curbside recycling program in the United States that covers its cost,’’ says Jay Lehr, science director at the Heartland Institute and author of a handbook on environmental science. They exist primarily to make people “feel warm and fuzzy about what they are doing for the environment.’’

Voters evidently support this stuff since the guys that propose it seem to get re-elected. It is ironic though that caring about the environment is reduced to just another consumer good, one that is actually forced upon us by politicians and environmentalists. I thought consumerism was what environmentalists abhor.

It was only a matter of time:

Japan files trade dispute over Ontario solar power rates

 

GENEVA — Japan has initiated a trade dispute against Canada related to renewable energy equipment in the province of Ontario, the World Trade Organization confirmed on Monday.

The Japanese mission to the WTO said the dispute centres on guaranteed long-term pricing for solar and wind generators made with a certain percentage of locally-produced components.

Some industrial strategy.

Long held up as the green-energy model by environmentalists, Denmark has announced it will be abandoning the development of onshore wind farms in the future.

“I think there’s an outbreak of realism,” says Constable. “Wind is not a bad technology. It’s just a lot more limited than people thought in the past.” Denmark, of course, was also the place where UN efforts to reach an overarching climate deal collapsed in acrimony last year. The country appears to be developing a habit of puncturing greens’ wilder hopes.

 Marc Gunther notes the obvious in the September issue of Wired:

Wind farms rely on big tax breaks to be competitive, and right now that money is being wasted. When more people catch wind of that fact, this promising form of alt energy could be labeled a boondoggle for farm states, as corn ethanol has been.

All too true. Yet his proposed solution comes right out of Dalton McGuinty’s playbook:

To make wind power work, then, the government needs to do more than just subsidize turbines. We need to give the federal government more power to overrule local objections and buy rights of way to get high-capacity transmission lines built across several states—say, from the Dakotas to the big cities of the Midwest. That’s how the interstate highway system and natural gas pipelines got built.

Scary.

The Economist points out one of the paradoxes of energy efficiency:

Solid-state lamps, which use souped-up versions of the light-emitting diodes that shine from the faces of digital clocks and flash irritatingly on the front panels of audio and video equipment, will indeed make lighting better. But precedent suggests that this will serve merely to increase the demand for light. The consequence may not be just more light for the same amount of energy, but an actual increase in energy consumption, rather than the decrease hoped for by those promoting new forms of lighting.

The light perceived by the human eye is measured in units called lumen-hours. This is about the amount produced by burning a candle for an hour. In 1700 a typical Briton consumed 580 lumen-hours in the course of a year, from candles, wood and oil. Today, burning electric lights, he uses about 46 megalumen-hours—almost 100,000 times as much. Better technology has stimulated demand, resulting in more energy being purchased for conversion into light.

This phenomenon is known as the rebound effect or Jevon’s paradox. Saving the environment is not as easy as it seems.

Source: Marc Roberts Cartoons

Traditional, incandescent light bulbs are on the verge of being banned by governments in many jurisdictions throughout the developed world. In their place, we are encouraged to use compact florescent lightbulbs. But does nanny really know best?

To discover CFLs’ negatives, try setting a romantic mood with a dimmer switch. This is, at best, a hit or miss proposition. Scarier still, just drop one onto your kitchen floor. Its internal mercury is highly toxic. If spilled, it requires something approximating a Superfund cleanup. The Environmental Protection Agency warns that if a CFL breaks on one’s apparel or bedspread, “Do not wash such clothing or bedding because mercury fragments in the clothing may contaminate the machine and/or pollute sewage” (emphasis added).

CFLs should be discarded at recycling centers. Hundreds of millions of busy Americans, however, will toss these dangerous bulbs in the trash, atop table scraps and junk mail. CFLs will clog landfills from coast to coast. Decades hence, mercury will have leeched into the environment. Americans will wonder why people are suffering brain, kidney, and lung damage. Medical visits will yield lawsuits. And yet another national disaster will erupt, courtesy of Washington, D.C. 

ht: International Liberty

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