Revealed preferences for climate

Eight academic economists have left Dublin in recent months or will leave shortly. That may seem like a small number, but there are only 200 or so academic economists in the country. They all have moved / will move to warmer places: Stirling (2.0K warmer on average than Dublin), Brighton (2.2K), Oxford (2.2K), Canberra (3.4K), Melbourne (5.3K) and Lisbon (7.0K). Dublin economists thus disregard the opinion of the European Union that a climate change of 2.0K is dangerous.

Between 1998 and 2009, intra-union migration has been towards warmer places. The average migrant in the EU experienced a warming of 0.6K. The average masks a wide spread. About 10% of migrants stayed in roughly the same climate, 17% experienced a cooling of 2K or less, and 16% a cooling of more than 2K. 24% experienced a warming of less than 2K, and 33% a warming of more than 2K. 450,000 people opted to live in a climate that is more that 5K warmer than what they were used to.

Obviously, one cannot compare the individual impact of moving to a warmer climate with the impact of global warming, but at the same time it is clear that both Dublin economists specifically and intra-European migrants generally do not object to a warmer environment.

City climate data from World Guides. Country climate data from the Climate Research Unit. Migration data from EuroStat, for Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Ireland, Greece, Spain, Italy, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Austria, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Finland, Sweden, United Kingdom.

20 thoughts on “Revealed preferences for climate”

  1. Richard, how about taking into accounts the average temperature of the states of Eastern Europe that have joined and sent lots of economic migrants to the rest of Europe?


  2. Richard

    Good point. For quite some time now I have been considered with the failure to quantify the External costs associated with temperature change. As you know there are lots of reasons why warmer temperatures can be considered preferential, indeed as you pointed out people are voting with their feet. However, there is also a legal reason to assess External costs, as it provides the justification for policies and funding mechanisms. One cannot legally provide State Aid for environmental protection, such as supporting highly expensive renewable energy, if one has never quantified the environmental impacts of the measure in the first place.

    In this regard in is interesting to view Directive 2001/77/EC on renewable electricity, which resulted in the construction of some 2,000 wind turbines in Ireland (1,650 MW) and pushed up our generation costs by 15% (Eirgrid Report 2004). Article 8 of the Directive is very clear in that by the 31st December the Commission had to write a report to the European Parliment, which shall:

    “consider the progress made in reflecting the external costs
    of electricity produced from non-renewable energy sources
    and the impact of public support granted to electricity

    I’ve been looking around everywhere for this official report from the Commission and have to conclude they never did it, just rolled over into an even bigger renewable energy programme.

    So billions being poured into completely dubious schemes without facts or figures to justify it, such as what exactly is the external cost of CO2, if the temperature does actually rise and by how much.

  3. Richard

    No disrepect to yourself, but there was a legal obligation on the EU Commission to produce a specific report for consideration by the European Parliment. As far as I can ascertain this didn’t happen.

    Indeed your own report highlights, quite rightly, the lack of researchers and output in this area, which naturally leads to question marks over the accuracy of the conclusions in this area. One could also point out that as regards the great ‘scientific consensus’ in terms of anthropogenic global warming, there are actually a very limited number of individuals preparing the mathematical models on which it is predicted. Which are then analysed by another limited number of individuals to arise at an economic cost.

    At the same time, trillions are to be spent on this issue in a complete ‘blank cheque’ manner. If one consider the UK programme for solar PV panels on roofs, funded by 41 p per kWh tariff, this equates to a carbon dioxide reduction cost of €500 per tonne. At the same time your own report was coming to a damage cost of €12 per tonne of CO2 ($59 per t of C). As the UK Independent stated on Tuesday:

    “In fact, it appears that the first £8.6bn of such solar panel subsidies would “save” – on the Government’s own figures – about 20m tonnes of CO2. This equates to about £430 to “save” one tonne of CO2 – compared with just £8 by building a nuclear power plant to replace energy provided by coal-fired power stations”.

    Money taken off citizens by public decree, either on direct taxes or hidden charges, should be spent wisely on things which count. Furthermore, there should be transparent documentation to prove this. The current climate change policies and ‘blank cheques’ handed out to complete dubious sectors is a complete affront to proper governance and legal compliance.

  4. @Pat

    “Money taken off citizens by public decree, either on direct taxes or hidden charges, should be spent wisely on things which count. Furthermore, there should be transparent documentation to prove this. The current climate change policies and ‘blank cheques’ handed out to complete dubious sectors is a complete affront to proper governance and legal compliance.”

    Very well put. It seems clear from @Richard’s work that no study was done because the results would have been unacceptable to the beneficiaries of the policy.

    Nice of the EU to organize the wealth transfer so efficiently.

  5. @ Richard / BG

    One should be suprised and indignant that such matters are going on, but it is completely the norm. Indeed closer to home one can read what is required in terms of Regulatory Impact Analysis as part of the development of legislation, in particular the cost / benefit and impacts analysis.

    In contrast when one reviews what was produced this time last year for the Climate Change Bill, one will see that the civil servants in this sector were doing an ideological ‘solo run’ and completely bypassed what was required of them.,24991,en.pdf

    It seems from your post that they don’t want to promote people doing cost / benefit / impact analysis documentation, it only gets in the way of the Irish system of rule by total diktat from the dozen or so who sit at Cabinet and don’t have to reveal any documentation on decision making for thirty years.

    The EU Commission seems to be increasingly fond of this approach too. After all why bother with the Parliment, such as sending in the reports required by legislation for consideration there. Incidentally I must sent in an Access for Information on the Environment Request under Regulation 1367 of 2006 for the existing of that Report under Article 8 of Directive 2001/77/EC.

    Either way all of this is going to end up in one place – the legal courts. Companies and individuals will simply decide they are not going to pay for all this stuff, they will question the documentation and find it totally flawed and legally non-compliant. Already the Financial Times two weeks ago had a report on the PRIMES model developed by the Technical University of Athens, which the Commission relied heavily on in its impact assessment to develop the 20% renewable energy by 2020 Directive (2009/28/EC). When people questioned as to what was used to programme it and how it did its calculations, they were denied access to it.

  6. Not thinking of going anywhere yourself, Richard? I’ve heard Harare is balmy at this time of the year.

    You could continue to triple-job for the Koch Br^h^h^h^h^h^h^h sorry Global Warming Policy Front.

  7. Proves the Hypothesis that People Follow Money. Not to criticize Irish academics, are any asking their jobs back. Meanwhile the broader trends imply warmer countries were putting to work the borrowed money.

  8. I’m sure there are many reasons (income, opportunities for advancement, collaboration, better life-style, declining international reputation of Ireland’s economic research capability, in addition to your tongue-in-cheek warmer climes suggestion) for these departures. But is their compensating immigration to fill these gaps? We might end up bettter off. Or are posts being eliminated or left unfilled? And we might be better off anyway given the abject failure of those with knowledge and competence in the relevant areas to take government and regulators to task in the run-up to the 2008 blow-out. I, for one, would prefer far fewer, but far more courageous, economists.

    And it would be interesting to find out, but I expect we never will, if the attentions of the ‘thought police’ to the more opinionated encouraged some departures – and might encourage more.

  9. @Paul
    There is a ban on new hires, which is selectively applied.

    At least in one case, xenophobia and curtailed academic freedom were factors in the decision to leave Ireland.

  10. “Obviously, one cannot compare the individual impact of moving to a warmer climate with the impact of global warming”

    Indeed. So one wonders what point you think you are making?

  11. S’pose there is little possibility of the ‘precious’ gang of eight gilded ‘AG’s’ leaving as well …. the upper_echelon needs a fairly ruthless gelding .. but I’ll leave it to the economic remnants to figure out any positive externalities from such a schock to the cushy butterfields …

  12. There are 200 academic economists but a v large number of them are invisible, on research or public radar. The question is : are the 8 that have left/are leaving those or are they among the more visible?

  13. Richard Tol’s gravestone will read “no such thing as global warming”.
    Future divers will laugh at the ineptitude.

  14. @ seafóid

    You’re not giving credit where credit’s due. RTol’s gravestone will say:

    “Of course there’s global warming, but we shouldn’t concern ourselves with the outcomes of our hydrocarbon addiction, and meanwhile here’s interesting links to several good friends of mine saying that AGW is a scam”

  15. It is disappointing, but not even a little bit surprising, on this Island of Saints and Scholars, to find that some academics (and, presumably, some managers and administrators of academics) are xenophobic and seek to curtail academic freedom.

    Only ‘yes-men’ and ‘yes-women’ required. There might be some patchy recognition that it was precisely this mind-set that got us in to the current mess, but it appears that the ‘powers-that-be’ are convinced that layering this mind-set with good intentions will some how get us out of it.

    It’s the ‘closing of the Irish mind’; not that it was open very much to begin with.

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