The problem with climate change related damages payments

To claim that countries emit is to make the same category error. Britain, or the United States, does not make carbon or any other kind of emissions. The people in those places might, this is true, in fact it is true that they do.

But the people and the country are not the same thing. To insist that they are is to be very much more statist than the world actually is.

There is a subset to this problem too. If it is the people emitting then it is the people who should be paying whatever damages are being claimed.

Say that the average US lifestyle involves 20 tonnes a year of emissions. That’s not right but it’s about so. We also know what those damages will be from the Stern Review — $80 per tonne CO2-e. Thus, the claim is that each American should be paying out $1,600 a year in damages — and that simply is not going to happen.

We cannot just charge it to their government either, as the government has no money, it only has what it can take in tax from the populace. And it simply is never going to be true that Americans will pay some $500 billion a year (300 odd million people at $1,600 a year) to foreigners.

It might, just about, be true that they will agree to pay a carbon tax of that amount, the revenue raised to be used to reduce their other taxes. And as the Stern Review points out, that does solve our climate change problem.

But no, they just will not, whatever all right thinking people tell them, pay that amount in costs and damages. Won’t happen. Not even worth dreaming that it will.

It does always slightly puzzle me that people try to insist upon such damages. Are there people out there quite so insulated from reality that they really do think the US would pay $500 billion a year? Sirsly?

8 thoughts on “The problem with climate change related damages payments”

  1. So Much For Subtlety

    Given the completely collapse of everyone into trembling piles of jelly at the mere thought ar$eholes like Rusty might call them racist, I wouldn’t be surprised if we all think this is normal in ten years.

    After all look how fast Gay marriage came from nowhere to an absolute Civil Right that denying meant you were a Nazi. Or 40 year old mentally disturbed men using your daughter’s locker room.

    The Conservative intellectual class is not as smart as it thinks and is also absolutely gutless.

  2. “Are there people out there quite so insulated from reality that they really do think the US would pay $500 billion a year? Sirsly?”

    I don’t believe for one second any of these people have got their thinking to that point, they just stopped at the idea of getting hundreds of billions for nothing. The reality of what it might mean and the likelyhood of the US citizenship tolerating it requires an IQ higher than about 83.

  3. “It does always slightly puzzle me that people try to insist upon such damages. Are there people out there quite so insulated from reality that they really do think the US would pay $500 billion a year? Sirsly?”

    Yes! In fact, that’s the whole point!

    The plan was that the rich countries should cut back their emissions and simultaneously transfer all their advanced technology and money to the developing nations, while the developing nations were under no obligation to reduce their emissions. The proposal was that defence budgets should be reallocated to climate, so for the US that would be a little over $600bn. Meanwhile, the developing nations (China and India in particular) would face no emission limitations, would receive a cash infusion, and would have free use of all Western intellectual property to build newer, more efficient factories.

    In other words, it was all a massive wealth redistribution scheme to destroy the American economy and transfer the industry to China. What’s more, it wouldn’t solve global warming, because without China having to abide by emission limits, nothing would change.

    The Americans knew this back in 1997, which is why *both* sides of the house (Republicans and Democrats) passed the Byrd-Hagel resolution, which acknowledged the seriousness of global warming, and resolved to take part in any international plan that would save the climate and not selectively knock out the American economy.

    The Byrd-Hagel policy is what killed the international climate negotiations. The campaigners insisted on wealth transfer, the American refused, and everyone spent the next 20 years criticising the Republicans for not taking the end of the world seriously.

    Incidentally, Obama had exactly the same policy. The Bali negotiations got a last minute agreement from the Chinese to accept emission limits, which allowed the Americans to join in, to much public fanfare, just in time for Obama’s inauguration. (Heh!) Then the Chinese ‘clarified’ that they were only talking about ’emission intensity’ (i.e. emissions per $GDP) and had no intention of limiting emissions, and the deal was quietly off.

    Whether Trump’s policy is actually any different is unknown. But since wealth redistribution was the only and entire point of the global warming campaign, the socialists are not likely to back down on it, so it’s not going to be an issue.

    To answer your question, no I don’t think anyone still thinks there’s any realistic prospect of the Americans participating. But yes, that was actually *exactly* the original plan and proposal.

    You can find the UN’s proposal from the Durban climate conference here. See in particular para 47 on p13, para 67 on p15, paras 79 and 81 on p16.

    This is how they see it.

    What puzzles me is that anyone can be so insulated from reality that they don’t already know all this.

  4. The global economy collapses without carbon (sic) emissions. The ‘cost’ is stupid, as it discounts the benefits of energy.

    More Lefty reindeer games.

  5. I would guess that the actual monetary damage caused by claimed effects of climate change – storm damage, rising sea levels, shifting of crops – would be greater for wealthy countries like the US than they would be for poor countries.

    A lot more infrastructure was destroyed in Houston or New Orleans than in the islands. Mud huts are much cheaper to rebuild than brick houses served by power, water, and sewage.

    Fortifying Manhattan against rising sea levels (if that were necessary) would be much more expensive than relocating the 100 residents of some atoll.

    I’m not disputing that the US is in a far better position to repair the damage than the Caribbean islands are, but if we’re going to distribute damages, I’d say most should go to the US.

  6. @ synp
    The USA has a much higher level of insurance cover than most other countries so when a hurricane hits the USA, Lloyd’s of London pays for a lot of the damage to be repaired.

  7. @john77
    It makes no difference. If hurricanes cause more damage than before, premiums go up. And premiums are high anyway, because there’s a lot of expensive infrastructure to rebuild.

    Whether Americans pay the repairs when disaster strikes or over the years as premiums, the cost of natural disasters is higher for them than for the Caribbean islanders.

  8. @ synp
    OK I thought you were saying that someone other than insurers should compensate the USA for natural disasters resulting from the impact of global warming.
    Your argument seems to be based on the assumption that the USA suffers more economic damage from climate change relative to the rest of the world than its contribution to climate change – this is not the case. China is by far the worst contributor to climate change but the USA comes second. It only appears that the USA suffers disproportionally because the insured damage – which is what gets reliably recorded – is a much higher %age of the total in the USA than in “less developed” economies.

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