Thursday, December 30, 2004

The solution for Global warming

the first thing we have to do is determine how desperate we are - in that regard we need to asses exactly what effect a 3.6 degree rise in temperature will cause how much a 2.5 degree will have how much an 8 degree change will have. And be clear how much CO2 we burn to get that change. This is to allow us to see how desperate we are. If we will get a day after tomorrow effect (I doubt it but we need to know) then we need to take strong measures as I will outline below. In fact since one would hope we are risk adverse with out planet if there is a reasonable chance of a worse case then we should assume it.

But first the optimistic scenario - What if instead of taxing the burning of oil we just paid countries to keep it in the ground. You could pay them money cash now or pay them at the sort of rates that they would have gained income from oil if they had drilled it. This eliminated oil from the system pushing up the prices and setting a maximum amount that will be burnt without having to bully end users. Where would the money come from? Well UN bonds of some sort UN taxes or Kyoto money.

Or there can be the rabid pessimist scenario or somewhere in-between.
Anyway - assuming global warming IS very bad.......

What should we do... well let’s look at some similar situations...

When we deal with ivory or cocaine or WMDs we don’t put a tax on their usage. The thing that is successful in the end is targeting the supplier.
One can do that in any way that is feasible but in the above cases we
1) Secure the means of production,
2) Ban the harvesting of it
3) Prevent the exporting of it.
One country at a time if needed using different strategies as required.


Besides the above argument there is also the "point of least resistance" argument

The Kyoto system picks a fight with the USA and later on the Chinese and Indians (who will slam into a massive new tax when they reach an arbitrary level) will see it as picking a fight with them. The harm is also pretty immediate and direct. It is no coincidence that the US opposes it. I see high chances of you loosing the Chinese Indians if they expand to a certain level and you will have no way of enforcing it. If you loose either of them it is dead in the water.

What if like any good politician we did not pick a fight with the powerful (at least not at first) - we instead co-opted them and instead picked one with the weak. Then we could get the job done much faster.

Sounds unfair? Well I'm trying to save a planet here - unfair comes a very distant second.

Instead of controlling china India USA etc you can control Saudi Arabia Iraq Iran UAE Venezuela etc. Much more progress can be achieved for much less effort. Besides relying on oil has benefited these countries rather less than you might think. You MAY also in the long run need to secure china's coal reserves and US oil shale (depending on if that ever becomes feasible to mine) etc in order to prevent it being mined but - since so much of it is NOT feasible to mine at the moment - that represents an opportunity besides that will be ok once the ball is rolling and it will occur BEFORE china starts telling the world where to stick it. And the whole process will pump up the price anyway with no way to cheat the system.

Kyoto could play a supporting role to this policy but I suggest the socialist parts should be ripped out of it... every country should face some sort of control immediatly (the US + aust would probably sign it then). If you want to be socialist - do it in ANOTHER treaty.

Having said that as greyshade notes -
"One of the great myths is that Kyoto involves huge economic sacrifices on the part of signatories. Perhaps the main reason for going ahead with it is to demonstrate that the global economy does not grind to a halt."

In this way Kyoto fights some of the arguments it has created by alienating the USA. By this I mean the US opposes it as it sees the treaty as a socialist measure designed to help places like china catch up with it by limiting its use of energy - they thus self justify with various excuses such as the above. Whatever you think of china catching up or socialism this stands in the way of the treaty being successful.

RE the substance of the argument - Of course less energy usage amounts to us having less stuff created but that is not really a disaster in itself. The world economy will probably adapt if it is managed properly. Anyway global warming will cost money too as will running out of oil.


Blogger Greyshade said...

I believe there's a much less drastic solution and will blog on the subject shortly. A "distributionally fair" solution for China and India vis a vis the West would allow their economies to grow naturally accompanied by an "orderly" increase in their CO2 emissions such that they would face the same levels as Western countries by the time they achieved the same standards of living.

I suspect that USA opposition to Kyoto is based mainly on lobbying by the US oil and automobile industries. Canada, Japan and Europe face the same third World competition issues. If so the "supply end" of oil will be no pushover.

5:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The solution is as drastic as you want it to be. For example if we decide we dont need to slow global warming much we can use a kyoto or better yet a UN based tax where you buy oil. You buy it in order to ensure it remains in the ground - at the same time pushing up the price without requiring the other countries to collect a tax). You then prevent mining of YOUR oil.

> I suspect that USA opposition to Kyoto is based mainly on lobbying by the US oil and automobile industries.

I think it requries both the oil industry pressure AND the perception of unfairness / socialism. To use your own argument the US is not the only country with oil companies - Europe has then also and yet it doesnt bother them. The problem is when a oil company throws a party and takes bush aside they can say "if you stop burning oil china will have you by the nuts!!" as oppsoed to "we will make a few less billion!!"
Actually Kyoto should not hurt oil companies all that much anyway in the big scheme of things they are traders when prices change sharply or go up usually traders make money.

The real reason is that europe sees itself competing against the USA the USA sees itself competing against china.

As to the argument - no matter how difficult it is to work on the supply side it will always be easier than the demand side.

8:58 PM  

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