Environmental economics

The problem with ‘ethical investing’

Yet again the Green party is lecturing us on ‘ethical investing’.

Can anyone see a problem with that?

The Green Party has called for the New Zealand Superannuation Fund to quit its investments in companies producing fossil fuel.

The fund’s chief executive, Adrian Orr, said it took the issue of climate change seriously and expected its exposure to fossil fuels to fall over time, and investment in renewables to rise.

“But a simple divestment call? The world is just not that straightforward,” he said.

The fund, set up by the previous Labour Government to partially pre-fund future New Zealand Superannuation payments, had $676 million invested in companies directly involved in fossil fuel production as of last June. That represented about 2 per cent of the fund’s assets.

Greens co-leader Russel Norman, in a paper released yesterday, makes an ethical case for not investing in companies whose activities are literally fuelling potentially catastrophic climate change.

He also points to a financial risk of stranded assets, citing analysis by the International Energy Agency and other bodies that the world’s coal, oil and gas companies already have in their proven reserves at least three times as much carbon as can be burned without exceeding the internationally agreed target of limiting global warming to 2 degrees Celsius.   Read more »

Is Labour looking at taxing polluters to pay for tax cuts for everyone else?

via the tipline

It would seem so, their polling company, the multinational UMR, is asking people some very leading questions.

Our tipster says:

Hi Cam,

I occasionally get sent invitations from UMR to fill out online surveys. I thought maybe some of your readers would be interested in some of the questions they have been asking recently. Could the ‘carbon tax on polluters’ be Labour’s next big election bribe?

I also find it rather amusing how loaded some of the questions are. Are they trying to influence my vote through their surveys?

How likely are you to support a carbon tax on polluters with the money raised by the tax returned to all New Zealanders by making up to $10,000 of your earnings tax free?

If a political party proposed a personal tax cut funded by a charge on climate polluters, what impact would that have on your vote?

o   Much more likely to vote for that party
o   A little more likely to vote for that party
o   No difference
o   A little less likely to vote for that party
o   Much less likely to vote for that party

Read more »

The rank hypocrisy of the Green Taliban

As news broke yesterday, fuelled by uninformed idiocy from the SST, and Lucy Craymer and Charles Anderson running a hate campaign against the New Zealand agriculture sector the Green Taliban went on attack issuing statements about ‘chemicals’.

In a 2008 interview with Gordon Campbell – check out Russel Norman’s last answer:

Campbell: So from what you’re saying, if the Greens are in government after the next election, it will be asking farmers to pay the full costs of its emissions much sooner ?

Norman: Yeah…and its actually in a good position to reduce its emissions. The technology already exists. Its just nuts. They’re half of our emissions, and we’re saying the sector doesn’t have to do anything.

Campbell:Excuse me, but the technology to reduce methane emissions doesn’t exist at the moment.

Norman: The technology to reduce nitrous oxide emissions exists at the moment, with nitrification inhibitors.

Read more »

Al Gore: Green=Greenbacks, and plenty of them

Whatever the saviour of the planet trousered from his $804 a seat gabfest in Auckland, it was chump change compared to the fortune he has amassed off the back of the Climate Change industry he so passionately promotes.

The Washington Post details the riches that have flowed from his canny investments, many into industries that benefit from Government funding.

Before a rapt audience, Al Gore flashed slides on a giant screen bearing the logos of 11 clean energy companies he predicted could help slow climate change.

“We can’t wait. . . . We have a planetary emergency,” the former vice president told industry leaders and scientists at the 2008 conference. “Here are just a few of the investments that I personally think make sense.”

Today, several of those clean tech firms are thriving, including a solar energy start-up and a Spanish utility company that has dotted rural America with hundreds of wind turbines.

Al Gore is thriving, too.

The man who was within sight of the presidency 12 years ago has transformed himself, becoming perhaps the world’s most renowned crusader on climate change and a highly successful green-tech investor.

Just before leaving public office in 2001, Gore reported assets of less than $2 million; today, his wealth is estimated at $100 million.

Gore charted this path by returning to his longtime passion — clean energy. He benefited from a powerful resume and a constellation of friends in the investment world and in Washington. And four years ago, his portfolio aligned smoothly with the agenda of an incoming administration and its plan to spend billions in stimulus funds on alternative energy.

The recovering politician was pushing the right cause at the perfect time.

Fourteen green-tech firms in which Gore invested received or directly benefited from more than $2.5 billion in loans, grants and tax breaks, part of President Obama’s historic push to seed a U.S. renewable-energy industry with public money.

No wonder he keeps jet-setting round the world, emitting carbon by the tonne.

The Absolute Law of Unintended Consequences

Let’s accept, for argument’s sake, that you give a rat’s arse about too much carbon, and lay awake nights imagining the future when your children are armpit deep in tepid water, fending off the floating corpses of dead polar bears.

Right, now you are Green.   But you did everything to stop this didn’t you?    Solar power, wind power, ethanol, carbon trading.

But wait.

The outcome of every one of these Green and bureaucratic interventions has been near enough the complete opposite of what you intended.

Solar power is a bankrupt industry rorted by Chinese dumping subsidies and a blot on every landscape where it has been introduced.

Windpower?   Its most enthusiastic proponents are now the cunning mates of top Tories in the UK, where the extended families of the Conservative PM and his deputy are making fortunes from subsidies, while the only winners from windfarms are the landholding Lords who rent out the family estates for rows of bird-shredders.

Ethanol?  BIG agriculture has taken that over (it’s BIG and you hate that).   The result, further devastation of the rainforests and a worldwide increase in food prices that is starving the poor.

Carbon Trading?  Scammed by governments and smart traders, collapsing under the weight of its own absurdity.   Even in NZ, the ETS means $330 million in corporate welfare for BIG agriculture.

Every move a total failure, the only beneficiaries the very institutions and classes you despise.

Hey Greenie…you know what is working?    The Free Market, that’s what.   It is working for you.

Weather conditions around the world this summer have provided ample fodder for the global warming debate. Droughts and heat waves are a harbinger of our future, carbon cuts are needed now more than ever, and yet meaningful policies have not been enacted.

But, beyond this well-trodden battlefield, something amazing has happened: Carbon-dioxide emissions in the United States have dropped to their lowest level in 20 years. Estimating on the basis of data from the US Energy Information Agency from the first five months of 2012, this year’s expected CO2 emissions have declined by more than 800 million tons, or 14 percent from their peak in 2007.

The cause is an unprecedented switch to natural gas, which emits 45 percent less carbon per energy unit. The U.S. used to generate about half its electricity from coal, and roughly 20 percent from gas. Over the past five years, those numbers have changed, first slowly and now dramatically: In April of this year, coal’s share in power generation plummeted to just 32 percent, on par with gas.

America’s rapid switch to natural gas is the result of three decades of technological innovation, particularly the development of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” which has opened up large new resources of previously inaccessible shale gas. Despite some legitimate concerns about safety, it is hard to overstate the overwhelming benefits.

For starters, fracking has caused gas prices to drop dramatically. Adjusted for inflation, natural gas has not been this cheap for the past 35 years, with the price this year three to five times lower than it was in the mid-2000s. And, while a flagging economy may explain a small portion of the drop in U.S. carbon emissions, the EIA emphasizes that the major explanation is natural gas.

The reduction is even more impressive when one considers that 57 million additional energy consumers were added to the U.S. population over the past two decades. Indeed, U.S. carbon emissions have dropped about 20 percent per capita, and are now at their lowest level since Dwight D. Eisenhower left the White House in 1961.

Peak Oil is Bullshit

Sydney Morning Herald

As usual, when the price of oil goes up new technology comes along, and supply increases, prices fall, and everyone starts talking about peak oil again because they forget new technology changes what is economically viable to extract.

As car makers race to wean themselves off the world’s dwindling supplies of oil, an academic in the United States has made the startling claim that we may be facing an oil glut.

Energy expert – and former oil industry executive – Leonardo Maugeri has authored a report that claims oil production will actually increase in the coming years, flying in the face of theories that suggest there will be a “peak oil” scenario in the foreseeable future.

Maugeri’s report, published by the Belfer Center at Harvard University, states: “contrary to what most people believe, oil supply capacity is growing worldwide at such an unprecedented level that it might outpace consumption.”

Maugeri’s explanation for his claims comes from broader use of existing technologies in drilling for oil, including horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracking. He claims that oil production may ramp up by 20 per cent over the next eight years, and there may even be a “collapse” in oil prices, and, in turn, lower prices for fuel from about 2015.

Destroying jobs a mercy killing say Greens

the mercury.com.au

Make no mistake that when the Greens start talking about “clean tech” and “green tech” and “sustainable” and “low-carbon economy”, that what they are really saying is that your job you currently have is obsolete and they want to destroy it….a mercy killing in fact:

Senator Milne acknowledged the transition to a low-carbon economy would not be easy for many workers but said change was inevitable.

“The whole world understands that we have to move to more sustainable outcomes and it is actually cruel to those workers to pretend that things can go on as they always did.”

It is nice to see the veil lifted sometimes.

Carbon pricing doesn’t work

No surprises. It just doesn’t.

Some specific key findings from the study are:

Generally speaking, carbon taxes are easier to implement successfully than cap and trade plans.

Proponents of carbon pricing plans have often seen their proposals become unpopular, and paid a severe political price. For example, support for ambitious carbon pricing measures contributed to recent electoral defeats for congressional Democrats in the United States and the Liberal Party of Canada.

Opposition to carbon pricing plans often coalesces around the notion that these policies are a “revenue grab” by governments. This source of opposition can be softened somewhat, if policy proposals are clearly revenue neutral and include transparent revenue recycling mechanisms.

Even carbon pricing plans that are revenue neutral overall can cause significant harm to specific industries, groups and regions within a jurisdiction, leading to the development of fierce, concentrated political opposition that can result in policy reversal or block implementation altogether. If policy design ensures identifiable groups (such as low-income individuals) and regions that are likely to be harmed are compensated, the likelihood of fierce political opposition can be somewhat reduced.

So why do we have carbon pricing here?