First estimates of the costs of the climate bill

As another sign of the rushed introduction of the climate bill, the first estimates of the costs of the climate bill are published in a newspaper. O Gallachoir’s estimates are based on a model which is still under active development (rather than on a model which has been vetted and peer-reviewed — this is due to the starting date of the modelling project). Note that UCC is way ahead of the ESRI here: We still have to figure out how to estimate the economic impacts of targets this deep; the measures included in our model are not sufficient. The regulatory impact assessment has no cost estimates.

So, we are essentially asked to sign up to something we do not understand.

UPDATE: The IFA argues, rightly, that it is peculiar to introduce the climate bill next Wednesday when the public consultation is still ongoing. This reminds me of the waste bill, also imminent, for which the results of consultation are still not made public. Which is the party again that “believe[s] […] in a political system that is transparent“? (Hint: click the link.)

65 thoughts on “First estimates of the costs of the climate bill”

  1. @Richard – “So, we are essentially asked to sign up to something we do not understand.”

    ….and possibly worse still, that the proposers do not understand either.

  2. Richard – please explain to me where the assumed average GDP growth rate of 2.4% per annum in this study over the next 40 years comes from?

  3. The FF back benches should rebel on this, say that the Greens want to put the recovery in a strait jacket and BC should call an election

  4. according to slides I have in front of me – slide 11 and 12 assume a GNP rate of growth of 2.4% p.a to 2050

  5. “So, we are essentially asked to sign up to something we do not understand”

    So it’s like joining the Euro.

  6. Now that GoD has appeared on this thread, are we not expected to sign up to this as an act of faith? 🙂

    Seriously though, are there links to the set of slides and the report lying on RT’s desk which seem to contain some quantitative analysis?

  7. @tol – well the presentation I have in front of me has an ESRI logo on it – so, pardon me, i thought you had something to do with!

  8. ps – if you had nothing to with it – as a cold, impartial and rational economist it always amazes me how you take newspaper articles written by business correpsondents as gospel. A marginal abatement cost of

  9. From the article:
    a 40 per cent cut relative to 1990 levels by 2030 and 80 per cent relative to 1990 levels by 2050. The 2030 and 2050 targets were agreed by various international gatherings, and all developed economies have to meet them.

    Surely this is a mistake.

  10. @BigEnd
    Your link doesn’t want to work, but a link to the presentation can be found on this page: http://www.etsap.org/Workshop/Cork_11_2010/

    The 2.4% figure is on page 6/slides 11-12, so this is clearly the same presentation referred to by GoD. The 2.4% p.a. assumption is unsourced, but I presume it must come from somewhere, most likely an ESRI scenario. Does anybody have any ideas?

  11. The Labour Party introduced its own private members Bill before Xmas – authored by Liz McManus – as a direct challenge to the Greens for failure to produce their own version of this legislation over the past three and a half years in government.

    I’m going to be blunt for once: the government sponsored Climate Bill is mad; the Labour Party version is even more insane. Circumstances have changed and the rationale for this kind of legislation, economically or in terms of Ireland’s environmental obligations, no longer exists. The Scottish CC law was promoted in rhetorical terms as ‘giving leaderhip to the world’ on climate change and likely to have a significant bearing on the outcome of the Copenhagen Conference. Load of humbug as it turned out.

    If the Green Party version is passed into law, it will be ignored in practice. But I think Al’s point is perceptive and FF backbenchers looking to retain their Dail seats will easily be got at by farmers and industry and will vote against this Bill and the government will fall on this legislation. The Greens won’t mind, since they can claim to have broken with the government on what was a red line issue for them. And if and when Labour get into power with Fine Gael, they will, on present indications, propose an even more daft piece of legislation than what the Greens in government are putting forward now.

    O Gallchoir’s model may be underdeveloped. That undermines the argument he’s making against the legislation, but in reality there can be no justification for legislation of this kind at the present time.

  12. @Veronica
    Note that the McManus bill was supported by Joint Oireachtas Committee on Climate Change and Energy Security. The targets there are indeed more stringent, and that bill aims to create a large new bureaucracy.

    On the state of development of the model: I think one should not introduce a bill without a full assessment. As no assessment can be done at the moment, the bill should be postponed.

  13. @veronica ..i think that is called myopia..aside from that, what you seem to have missed is that Ireland already has legally binding 2020 targets under the EU Effort Sharing Decision and participates in a EU wide cap for the ETS. From my calculations a 2.5% cross-economy compound reduction in the Bill based on the 10 Mt required in the ESD sector and 5 Mt EPA WAM scenarios (albeit based on ridiculous ESRI GDP growth rate forecasts) would bring us to the trajectory required to achieve this..are you suggesting we breach EU law?..in which case will you pay the fine? Sure why break the habit of a lifetime – Ireland never took EU law seriously and is the reason why we have so many ECJ rulings against us.

  14. @Richard

    To put it another way, “I assert that you are wrong. As evidence please refer to my previous assertion”.

    Can we get into the figures?

  15. nope..2.5% compound in net emissions accounting for sinks plus ETS WAM projections = our EU targets and will achieve the 10 Mt reduction (-20%)required in the ESD sector over the period – your figure is non-compound. ps. directing me to a post previously written by your good self does not inspire any greater confidence – similar to relying on an article written by Barry O’Halloran!

  16. OK. Let’s see if I have this right. We’re committed to meet the EU’s -20% by 2020 (which is likely to diminish in absolute terms as member-states inevitably fall short). The Govt.s’ (Greens’) Bill wants -30% and the relevant Oireachtas Cttee wants something equally stringent. Dr. O’Gallachoir’s modelling of the costs and benefits is under-developed, but it is further advanced than that of the ESRI. There are no published official estimates.

    Pig in a poke doesn’t come near to describing this. I agree with Veronica that this Bill should, and will, go down in flames – and it will be found politically expedient for this to be engineered. But I still think effort should be expended to identify the most effective and efficient means of meeting our EU commitments.

  17. A timely well-written article – hopefully this bill will be kicked to touch. I mean it is not as if any external parties are holding guns to our heads on this (other than NGO’s). As a nation on its knees economically, we need really need to wake up and smell the coffee.

    There is a clear choice between climate change tokenism and competitiveness.

    This competitiveness affects both the indigenous and multi-national sector.

    MNC’s are happy to make politically correct sounds about CC, but as somebody who works in one,
    have absolutely no doubt that setting longterm penalties for energy users (that are relatively higher than others) here will affect long term commitment to Ireland.

    As Ireland’s tiny contribution either way does not matter a toss (even if the climate models are by some monkey’s chance half correct),
    it really is time for our legislators to look after ourselves (Sinn Fein?) – just as developing countries do.
    For example, a reduction in fuels prices would attract a lot of cross-border revenue (and taxes) while also improving our competitiveness.

    Rather than throw all our eggs into (subsidizing) Green energy initiatives like over-priced electric cars, it would be great to see one of our main-stream parties come up with a whitepaper to develop our Oil & Gas exploration potential;
    This booming sector offers potential for a lot of well-paid blue collar jobs and energy security for a generation or more.

    I only hope that some political party will see sense when the current incumbents eventually vacate.

  18. “have absolutely no doubt that setting longterm penalties for energy users (that are relatively higher than others) here will affect long term commitment to Ireland.”

    And that is why nothing will be done about emissions until it is too late. Economic growth wins every time. Until the whole system collapses.

  19. @ Richard

    The EU commitment is for a 30% reduction on 1990 emissions by 2020. (This is dependent on “comparable” commitments from other developed countries, which Japan has now made (conditionally), and the US has committed to -17% on 2005 emissions). Ireland’s 20% target for its domestic sector assumes a 20% EU-wide reduction on 1990, and this might be expected to increase if the same formula is used to divide any additional domestic sector target.

    On the other hand Ireland’s share of the EU target was based on 2005 relative GDP, which was something along the lines of 140% EU average at that time, emissions were of course also a lot higher.

    In realtion to the target, I love how IBEC’s crystal ball is functioning so efficiently to 2050. As we all know the estimated cost of targets will depend largely on ones assumptions. We know that the IFA and IBEC have opposed practically every piece of climate legislation over the past 15 years, so I am not surprised by their all too predictable objections.

    I am, however, disappointed with some aspects of the bill. It is far too focused on targets on not enough on procedures of policy formulation and (most importantly) benchmarking and monitoring of implementation. The influence Advisory Board may be marginal, and there is a huge amount of discretion for ministers to require sectoral plans, or not, depending on how they are feeling presumable.

    We should have just copied to the UK Climate Bill.

  20. http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/jan/07/republicans-climate-change

    ” Republicans have wasted no time in using their new majority in Congress to try to block the authority of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to act on climate change. In their first full day in the new Congress, Republicans outlined three different bills – encapsulating three different strategies – aimed at limiting the powers of the EPA. It also shut down a house committee that had tackled energy and climate issues.

    But as last November’s mid-term elections made clear, environmental regulations have become a favourite target of the conservative Tea party movement. In an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal, Fred Upton, the Michigan Republican who will lead the energy and commerce committee, teamed up with Tim Phillips, who is seen as a driving force behind the Tea Party groups to call the EPA moves towards regulation a job killer and an unconstitutional power-grab.”

  21. @jc

    “It is far too focused on targets on not enough on procedures of policy formulation and (most importantly) benchmarking and monitoring of implementation. The influence Advisory Board may be marginal, and there is a huge amount of discretion for ministers to require sectoral plans, or not, depending on how they are feeling presumable. “

    While the debate so far has focused on targets I don’t this is a fair reflection of the Bill. The bulk of the Bill is indeed about policy formulation and dictates the procedures by which plans are produced, monitored and reviewed. The targets themselves are reviewable based on the input of the Expert Advisory Body.

  22. @ Ryano

    While the Advisory Body is a step forward, there seems to be plenty of scope for the it to be ignored or to become irrelevant, especially in the development of the 7-year plans. We may be pretty much in the same situation after the bill as we are in now – every sector of the economy/government department low-balling their respective efforts and ongoing zero-sum negotiations in the senior officials group.

    Obviously the public service didn’t like the idea of an independent expert body proposing an overall transition plan – a body without a stake making an initial assessment of what should happen. This same criticism is valid for the proposed sectoral plans (which may or may not arise as a result of the legislation). The role of the expert body in relation to sectoral plans is marginal at best under the legislation. Why have an expert body if it has no automatic roll in reviewing draft plans and making recommendation? Government departments tend to be quite close to their constituents and the bill should address this if nothing else.

    I would have set a long-term target (80%), referenced EU commitments, and left the rest to the expert body. The 2.5% is just going to get people’s backs up, and as it’s averaged over a 12 year period it is tokenism in any case. Annual targets, 7-year targets, 4 2020 targets (two emanating from EU for the domestic sector, one for the ETS, and another for the whole economy under the legislation), a 2030 target and a 2050 target. This will drive people mad.

    As a political-economist I like targets, I understand the need for this legislation, but this could be a lot cleaner.

  23. @ Richard

    The EU is committed to a 30% emissions reduction. That’s its headline commitment. It is dependent on comparable commitments from other “developed” countries so China and India’s positions are irrelevant. Japan proposed to decrease emissions to 25% below 1990 by 2020 and to 60-80% below 2005 by 2050. The US is another story admittedly. Nonetheless, several EU countries are in favor of moving to 30%, and I would consider this the likely eventual outcome.

  24. @jc

    The road to hell is paved with good intentions and its arguable that the adge applies to the EU’s 30% ‘headline commitment’. In any case, until the EU position is definitive there is no case for introducing Irish legislation proposing targets higher than those we are obliged to meet. So far as I know, the countries in favour of moving to the 30% reduction target are Germany, the UK, France and Denmark while most of the Central European states remain firmly opposed. Also, as far as I know, the EU Environment Council has parked any decision for the present. It makes no sense for Ireland to presume that the EU will move in the direction of a 30% target this year or even next year. In our present economic circumstances it’s woodenheaded politics to introduce legislation of the kind proposed either by the Greens or the earlier proposal devised by the Labour Party/Joint Oireachtas Committee, particularly so since there is no urgent public or business demand for the introduction of such a framework at this time and the costs to the Irish economy are not even discernible.

  25. @JC
    I dont think the stance of China and India is irrelevant. Env Council Conclusions language states
    “REAFFIRMS its commitment to move to a 30% reduction compared to 1990 levels as its contribution to a global and comprehensive agreement for the period beyond 2012, provided that other developed countries commit themselves to comparable emission reductions and that
    developing countries contribute adequately according to their responsibilities and respective capabilities.” In my experience the EU is extremely interested in the level of ambition away from BAU that China and India have pledged.

  26. @Veronica
    I wrote the piece and I suspect that I did not make this very clear. Brian O Gallachoir is not arguing against, or for, the legislation. He and his staff are simply trying to develop a way of calculating the cost using an internationally recognised model for doing so.
    I do quote the employers’ group, Ibec, in the story, and it is opposed to the bill in its current form. Part of its argument is based on the figures produced by O Gallachoir and his team.

  27. I’m delighted to see my research informing some discussions and debate and would like to clarify some points made. The model we’re developing focuses on the energy system only (accounting for 2/3 of GHG emissions) and excludes agriculture. As Richard points out it’s still at the development stage and under continuous improvement. It’s the same type of model that was used in the UK to inform their 80% emissions reduction target and by the International Energy Agency in thier 50% global emissions reduction scenario. For a given time horizon, it is designed to choose the least cost energy technology mix to deliver an energy service demand for a given projection of economic growth and structure. The numbers that are in the public domain are based on an early working version of the model and early ESRI projections of Ireland’s future economic development. We have recently improved the model and the marginal cost of CO2 abatement we’re now seeing for 2050 is €255 / tonne of CO2 (in 2009 money), to meet an 80% reduction in energy-related CO2. We are currently inputting revised economic growth forecasts from ESRI and expect this marginal price to come down as a result. We intend to calculate total costs of the changes in the energy systems as a share of GDP, which can be a useful metric to discuss impacts. For comparison purposes, the UK results point to a marginal abatement cost there in 2050 of USD 225/tCO2 (in 2009 money). It is worth noting that the UK emissions have dropped relative to 1990 levels in contrast to Ireland’s which have grown. The IEA concludes that the marginal abatement cost for a global 50% CO2 emissions reduction target (here relative to 2005 levels) will be USD 175/tCO2.

  28. @ GoD

    Habits appear hard to break for dear old V., BNFL’s former lackey in this jurisdiction, so we’ll have to forgive her instinctive hostility to anything to do with the Greens.

    As to this, however:

    “I’m going to be blunt for once: the government sponsored Climate Bill is mad; the Labour Party version is even more insane.”

    Does anyone really believe her claims to be a genuine supporter of the Labour party, her usual run for cover?

  29. @ Brian O’G

    The cost to meet an 80% reduction in emissions by 2050 is estimated to be €255/tCo2 in 2050.

    Alternative optimal tax rates are discussed here and all come in substantialy below.

    http://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&source=web&cd=4&sqi=2&ved=0CDoQFjAD&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.carbontax.org%2Fblogarchives%2F2008%2F10%2F18%2Fa-question-of-balance-finding-the-optimal-carbon-tax-rate%2F&ei=-5EnTc65CcmWhQf_rMCRAg&usg=AFQjCNEk-re04LgPE05h_fqSxLX-B29RVg&sig2=JhKfbObKz6HVSpFcv2BX8Q

    Nordhaus would equate to $16-$20 with an emissions reduction target of 45% off BAU.

    Have you any comment on this?

    Regards,

    Concerned taxpayer.

  30. @JC
    Proposing a bill, whose implementation will be left entirely to their successors, not just as their final act, but AFTER they were supposed to have left office, was a huge stroke. If the bill has no teeth then the cynicism is extraordinary. The people who are being most shamefully deceived in all this may be the environmental community.

    The Euro zone is in crisis and the Western World economically shaky. Unless a climate emergency occurs, targets of this kind that damage economic growth will not be met but will be postponed for many years, then possibly even dropped. We need smart environmental measures, that achieve their goals at lowest economic cost, not wasted subsidies and rigid controls.

  31. @ Oliver Vandt,

    All Oireachtas members, whether government or opposition, are entitled to bring forward any Bills they want at any stage in the lifetime of a government. You’re right though, the general thrust of this proposed legislation is ill considered and in practice, will probably prove futile.

    @ EWI,

    Poor you! Santa missed out on your chimney again this season?

  32. @Brian O’Gallachoir,

    Many thanks for the clarifications. I’m familiar with some of the longer term estimates of the MAC and it’s obviously interesting to see where estimates for Ireland sit among these. I realise it’s not the focus of your research, but I think where the public concern is most acute is in relation to the level and movement in the MAC over the next decade should Ireland decide to target a reduction in CO2 emissions 50% in excess of the reduction targeted by the EU (and to which Ireland has made a ‘binding’ – insofar as any of these targets are binding when the ‘big beasts’ decide to ignore them – commitment).

    I also suspect there is some concern that the approach being proposed to achieve this target reduction, because it resembles the good old GOSPLAN of the former Soviet Union, but without the ‘incentives’ they employed, may result in costs being imposed far in excess of any estimates of an efficient MAC.

    I’m not sure if your research allows you to comment on these aspects, but I’m reasonably convinced that many members of the public would be interested. I’m a little disappointed, but not surprised, that the ESRI seems to be so far off the pace in relation to research on these matters, but I suspect that the political sensitivity of the issues and the extent to which the ESRI relies on revenue from services provided to government agencies deters the necessary research focus and restricts the funding available.

    Perhaps you are similarly constrained. If so, it highlights a significant deficiency in the capability to scrutinise government proposals in the public interest.

  33. @Paul
    You misrepresent our position on this matter. We are not restrained in any way from commenting on this by commercial or political sensitivities. We are restrained by a dearth of research. We have operational models to estimate the costs of emission reduction. Those models compromise input substitution and demand shifts. We ran these models with high and very high carbon taxes; emissions fall, but not enough to meet the targets.

    That is, the targets will not be met with the policies included in our models.

    If that is true, then we need to consider other measures, such as reductions in the herd size, bans on car commutes less than 10 km, and emigration. It would be a lot of work to cost such measures, and chances are that they’ll never be deployed anyway, so why bother?

  34. These are two very different things. My €255/tonne CO2 estimate for 2050 is the marginal CO2 cost to achieve an 80% energy-related CO2 emissions reduction relative to 1990 levels for Ireland based on technology selection (it is likely to be achieved at a lower rate if behaviour is taken into account). The numbers used by Nordhaus show what the impact of specific rates of carbon tax will achieve and the 45% reduction is for the period out to 2100, a very different path. We do intend to test different marginal abatemet rates and assess the resulting emissions reduction.

  35. Apologies I’m new to this – my last comment was to Neil S.

    To Paul …
    We are also lookng at the shorter term targets but our focus here is on the non-ETS target in particular. We haven’t modelled a 30% emissions reduction target yet – our analysis to date has used the 20% short term target. The impact of changing the overall 2020 emissions reduction target from 20% to 30% lower than 2005 levels is I suspect not as significant as what the split will be between ETS and non-ETS as much less is being done in the non-ETS sectors.

  36. @Richard,

    Thank you. I don’t think we’re disagreeing. This is an issue of time and resources. I think we both agree that the Govt.’s proposals need to be modelled and costed. This hasn’t been done and it takes time and effort. So I agree with your basic contention: take the time and apply the effort to do this properly and then let the politicos decide. Therefore, similarly to waste policy, this dossier should be passed to the next government.

    The residual niggle I have is that, since the broad shape of the Govt.’s preferred approach – in terms of targets, planning and micro-management by sector – has been clear for some time, why has research focused on the ‘one club’ carbon tax policy? Surely it should been possible with the resources and data available to highlight the heroic assumptions underpinning the Govt.’s approach, the unintended consequences, the hidden costs and the high probability of failure to meet the desired target?

    It’s very easy for the Govt. to dismiss research based on a carbon tax by saying that they intend to use a broad range of instruments and that there will be huge positive externalities with a flourishing green economy.

    This is how we got into the current economic and financial mess. Nobody of any credibility or ‘standing’ – in David Begg’s parlance – was doing anything like enough research on the likely implications of wrong-headed fiscal and bank supervision/financial regulation policy. And the Dail was too ineffectual and incapable of commissioning such research to hold Govt. to account.

    As I’ve said before, nothing, absolutely nothing, has been learned. Fiscal and banking policy is now controlled by the Troika, but it’s ‘business-as-usual’ in every other policy and regulatory area.

  37. Speaking in a purely personal capacity, I very much look forward to seeing updated results from the UCC modelling team. I believe that this work is an extremely valuable contribution to the climate policy debate. I also agree that it will be worthwhile to include projections of the weighted-average cost of greenhouse gas abatement measures in addition to projections of the marginal abatement cost.

    My expectation is that the average abatement cost in future years, consistent with meeting the Bill’s targets, would be somewhat less sensitive to changes in economic assumptions (GDP, fossil fuel prices etc) than the marginal cost would be.

    For the avoidance of doubt, the figures quoted in last Friday’s newspaper article are based on what I consider to be reasonable inferences about the weighted average cost of reducing fuel-related emissions, assuming efficient policies can be devised. Non-fuel emissions are much more difficult to abate, as noted in the 2009 SEAI report ‘Ireland’s Low Carbon Opportunity’.

    One suggestion. Perhaps the annual cost could be expressed not only as a percentage of our projected GDP, but also as a percentage of the country’s projected annual expenditure on energy? This would give us some feel for the likely impact on fuel and electricity bills. Such a metric was pubished last year by the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change, although it should be noted that this included the cost of renewable energy and climate change mitigation measures. For anyone interested in reading that report, here’s the link.

    http://www.decc.gov.uk/assets/decc/what%20we%20do/uk%20energy%20supply/236-impacts-energy-climate-change-policies.pdf

  38. @Brian,

    Thank you. I take your ETS/non-ETS points. I reckon it will take a generation – maybe two – to shift behaviour in the non-ETS sectors. Small businesses and individual citizens are not the rational calculating machines generally assumed by economists. But I remain concerned about the lack of detailed cost analysis in the ETS sector.

    However, even if your research is timely and shed some light, I fear – pace my response to Richard – that it will simply be ignored if it doesn’t support the Greens’ agenda.

  39. @Brian, Paul
    Note that there is a difference between the EU’s conditional target of -30%, and the unilateral Irish target of -30%.

    If the EU would adopt -30%, then the pain would be spread between ETS and non-ETS, and access to CDM would be expanded.

    If Ireland would adopt -30%, the extra effort would fall solely on the non-ETS emissions — as ETS is out of Irish control, and CDM access is restricted.

  40. One difference between the Climate Change bill target and the EU 2020 target for emissions is that the former refers explicitly to net emissions, ie. after carbon sinks due to afforestation are taken into account, while the ‘EU target’ (which legally only applies to the non-ETS sector but imputing the overall EU reduction for the ETS sector of 21% to give a ‘national’ 2020 target) of 55mt CO2eq currently excludes LULUCF carbon sinks. The Commission will make a proposal on whether, and if so, how, to include carbon sinks in the EU targets in July this year. Even if sinks are included, the EPA warns that this could imply a revision (presumably tightening) of the current non-ETS target.

    Thus the CC bill target is a 2.5% annual reduction in net emissions, or a 26% overall reduction assuming a compound growth rate, taking 2008 net emissions as the base. The EU 2020 target is (approx) a 20% reduction in 2020 based on 2005 gross emissions. Because carbon sinks are assumed to grow rapidly during this period, the difference between these targets is even greater than appears on the surface.

    I have constructed a spreadsheet to show the implications of these different targets (see https://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=0AqKoZ_bJBQHYdDhqRzB6dDQyeHhoNmZRQjVLanVHZWc&hl=en). The figures broadly agree with those in Barry O’Halloran’s article in the Irish Times.

    Based on the latest EPA inventory figures, under the CC Bill, we would be required to reduce net emissions by 17 million tonnes CO2eq between 2008 and 2020 (not the 18 million quoted in the Irish Times), from 65mt to 48mt. Under the EU2020 target, we are required to reduce gross emissions by 13mt (from 68mt to 55mt) between 2008 and 2020. Thus, the apparent difference between these targets is 4mt CO2eq, which was the figure quoted by Barry O’Halloran in his Irish Times article.

    However, if LULUCF is allowed after 2013 to count towards our targets (and assuming that the baseline 2005 figure is adjusted to reflect this and that there is no change in the overall 20% reduction in our non-ETS commitment), then the EU2020 target is made easier. The target would be to reduce emissions in the non-LULUCF sector from 68mt in 2008 to 59mt in 2020, or a reduction of 9mt. The difference with the CC bill is then 8mt, and not 4mt, or a doubling of the ‘stringency gap’.

    One caveat to this observation is that the EPA estimate for carbon sinks in their latest projections seems to differ quite a lot from the national inventory figure, I am not sure what the reason for this is. Another caveat is that the foresty sink figure is somewhat dependent on meeting planting targets between now and 2020, which is unlikely.

    However, taking account of LULUCF increases the apparent difference in the stringency between the CC Bill and EU202 targets, I agree with the comments that it is not appropriate for Ireland to accept stricter targets than warranted by existing EU obligations.

  41. @Alan
    Land use emissions are imputed rather than measured. The UN method for imputation has a sink of 1.5 mln t CO2 in 2008; this is the number reported to the UNFCCC. The EU uses a different method (for reason unknown to me), according to which Ireland has a sink of 2.8 mln t CO2 in 2008.

  42. @Richard, Alan

    I would like to offer one additional point to consider when comparing the EU 2020 reduction target against that which is implied in the Climate Change Response Bill.

    The European Union effort-sharing decision 406/2009/EC does allow for limited use (up to 3%) of CDM project credits by Member States after 2012, even in the absence of a legally binding international agreement. However, I am doubtful whether the use such credits would be allowed to contribute towards reaching the targets set out in the Bill. Worth checking?

  43. @Neil
    Member States can buy a limited amount of CDMs. That amount depends on the EU target. A unilaterally stricter targets does not release the constraints on CDM access.

  44. Why are we bothered about emissions anyway? Chindia has a mandate to increase their coal-fired electricity generating capacity (also, steel production) so why are we bothering? Its ideological claptrap. But, who gains?

    Mind you, if coal extraction and use in Chindia continues at +6.9% on an annual incremental basis – that will give a doubling in a decade. That would be nice!

    BpW

  45. @ PS: ““How much will it cost and why are we doing it?

    Searching questions. Cost? Political, monetary, or energy. If its #1: No action – but plenty of bluster. #2 and #3 will lower economic activity. That’d be good.

    Why? Its because ‘someone’ is going to benefit. When you can ID that someone, then you have your answer.

    Eventually energy contraints will result in a steady decrease in global fossil fuel use (hence reductions in global emissions). Just not for a decade or so.

    If ‘global warming’ is real, and has already commenced, it is an irreversible, tightly coupled, exponential process. Long, slow, intial lag-phase – bit like microbrial growth. Watch out for any change in the ‘rate’ of annual global temperature increase. The initial changes are small – hence measurement errors are proportionately large. Needs time.

    BpW

  46. @Neil

    Seems to me that your point is well taken. The EU target (which is legally binding in the sense that we can be fined if we don’t meet it) can be met in part through CDM project credits if that proves a cheaper way of meeting the target.

    The CC bill does not allow for offsets in this way and so is a stricter target. Of course, its targets are rhetorical as they are explicitly not justiciable.

  47. Given that Ireland’s emissions <a href=”http://www.icis.com/heren/carbon_country_facts_ireland.htm” fell from 20.37 mtonne CO2 equivalent in 2008 to 17.22 in 2009. a decrease of 15.5 % and 2010 is not going to be a walk in the part, it strikes Eli that you have other things to worry about

  48. @Alan

    The national targets themselves would not be legally enforcible. However, the Bill provides for legal action by interested third parties against a Minister or a public body (which could include the NTMA), effectively compelling them to act in accordance with any national plan approved by the Government.

    I’m wondering whether a future Government might be legally constrained from approving a national plan that relied (ex ante) on the purchase of CDM credits in order to reach the 2020 national reduction target. It might end up being tested in the courts…

  49. @Oliver

    “Proposing a bill, whose implementation will be left entirely to their successors, not just as their final act, but AFTER they were supposed to have left office, was a huge stroke.”

    The whole point of the Bill is that implementation will be a matter for not only the next government, but the government after that and the government after that again.

  50. @ All

    Thanks for interesting clarifications above.

    @ Brian O’G

    You might make a more useful contribution to the debate would be a range of carbon prices based on a number of different trajectories, particularly for economic growth, technological development and deployment, and the price of fossil fuels. Will high, medium and low scenarios for these categories this would yield a matrix of nine outcomes and a range of prices.

    If your growth assumptions alone are correct, our economy will be nearly three times as large as it is now. Super. I wouldn’t mind paying €250 per tonne of carbon abated under those circumstances.

  51. @jc;

    You say “I wouldn’t mind paying €250 per tonne of carbon abated”

    That would be several thousand Euro per person per annum in the near future. What an idiosyncratic viewpoint you have. Short of the European Rapid Reaction force parachuting in with guns blazing I can’t see how such deluded lunacy could be imposed.

  52. @Richard

    I just came across a paper of yours from 2003 called “Is the Uncertainty about Climate Change too Large for Expected Cost-Benefit Analysis? ”

    I wonder is saying that Ireland is not ready for a climate change bill until we have concrete data on what it is going to cost us a little contradictory to this as we also have no idea what the costs of not reducing emissions sufficiently are going to be?

    I realise that this is oversimplifying the issue as I’m omitting your main point is that we might be voluntarily exceeding EU targets but still interested in any response you might have.

  53. Professor Phil Jones (he of the University of East Anglia) has admitted to the BBC last year (google it) that since 1995 there has been no statistically significant warming since 1995, none, nada, zilch, get it!

    What problem are the greens trying to solve again?

    Do they like playing God?

Comments are closed.