Monday, November 02, 2009

Cost Of Global Warming Industry

Nice work if you can get it

For some time Tyler has been trying to pin down the cost of the global warming industry. It has several elements:
  • Tax funded programmes to research, debate, and propagandise the issue (see pic)
  • Regulations that impose additional costs on consumers and businesses
  • Tax-subsidised investment in costly emissions infrastructure - eg wind-turbines and carbon capture
A large chunk of this cost is a pure dead loss. For example, the power black-outs we will be suffering in a few years time from not having built new generating capacity, will cut our national output and make all of our lives less comfortable. This is money we might just as well burn in the market square.

But much of the cost is a redistribution from you and me to those employed in the warming industry.

We are directly funding all those thousands of politicos and bureaucrats who will shortly descend on the Copenhagen Climate Summit. And we are also directly funding the legions of climate change scientists employed in places like the Met Office's Hadley Centre. Without taxpayer support most of their jobs would not exist.

But taxpaying consumers are also paying huge subsidies to the private sector part of the warming industry, such as the manufacturers and installers of solar panels and wind turbines. And again, without direct government support most of those jobs would also disappear.

So what's the damage? How big is the global warming industry, and how much does it cost us in subsidies?

Unfortunately, we still haven't pinned down the answer: as so often, hard numbers are difficult to find. But last week in Time magazine, there were a couple of interesting snippets:

"Each year as much as $100 billion is spent by governments and consumers around the world on green subsidies... it's hard to think of any non-military industry that has been so completely and utterly driven by regulation and subsidies from the start...

Both the International Energy Agency and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development have asked Germany to end its ludicrous solar subsidies that will total $115.5 billion by 2013."

And elsewhere, we learn that even under climate change denier Bush, the US government pumped up its spending on climate-related items to $7bn pa: spending that has totalled $79bn over the last 20 years.

Now $100bn pa is already a significant burden. But it is nothing compared what the industry is lobbying for.

The stated plan as set out in the famous Stern Report (see this blog) is for such spending to increase to 1% of GDP. Which would mean a fivefold increase.

Where do we sign to opt out?

PS Does anyone know of a good estimate for the overall size of this industry? Any suggestions gratefully received.


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