Al Gore gets a prize for taxing the poor

Al Gore today recommends once again higher taxes and a higher carbon price to cut CO2 emissions. He wants to tax the poor off the roads and let them stay cold in winter. Rather like Maria Antoinette, he would probbaly say "let them walk and wear thicker woolies". There is no mention of incentives and technology, the magic weapons in the battle to reduce our dependence on burning carbon.

Meanwhile, the UK government has decided to take another tilt at windmills. Urging more renewables (a good thing), they are ordering many more wind farms (a more questionable thing). I hope it is windy on Christmas day when we all want to cook our turkeys. It would not be good being told by the electricity industry in 2020 we will have to wait for a windy day to have Christmas lunch.

The government should also audit the carbon needed to make the wind turbines, install them, maintain them and replace broken parts. They should then add in all the carbon expanded to make stand-by plants for days when it is not windy. Then they might see that "wind wind" is not always "win win".


  1. Francis Irving
    December 10, 2007

    Do you really trust the Government to intrusively audit every single separate industry to see how carbon efficient it is? This sounds expensive, bureaucratic and inaccurate to me.

    Far better to to measure only upstream – for example where oil is removed from the earth, or where iron ore is smelted. Cap those emissions, have a trading system for them, reduce other taxes.

    Then the market will take care of measuring the details you're worried about, such as the carbon emissions of building and maintaining wind farms.

  2. Falco
    December 10, 2007

    "Urging more renewabls (a god thing)" and they say environmentalism is becoming a religion.

    Well said! For once that was not my poor typing – I had to send in copy from elsewhere – clearly my helper thought he needed to keep up the typing standards you have come to expect from this quick fire blogsite!

  3. Neil Craig
    December 10, 2007

    According to Scottish LibDem leader Nicol Stephen on BBC Scotland "nuclear is the easy solution" but must thus be opposed because, if allowed to work, voters would refuse to subsidise windmills any more.

    He is right in fact & wrong in his principle – that the government should mislead & endanger the voters to get them to pay more taxes.

  4. Bazman
    December 10, 2007

    Wind turbines are a last resort form of power, or used to supplement another power source. On an urban domestic scale little more than an expensive novelty due to the surrounding buildings.
    I don't believe without any subsidy these wind farms are viable.
    Who is getting rich from them?

  5. Simon_c
    December 11, 2007

    Mr Redwood,
    My naive point of view is that taxing carbon releasing would focus people's mind on carbon efficiency and rapidly (as the price increases filtered through the system) lead to all manufactured goods being priced as to their true carbon usage.

    Maybe a first step would be to legislate to include the carbon footprint on energy bills, and then filter that information through the economy.

    Now, I understand that your point of view is for incentives, and carbon trading markets to reduce the carbon footprint. Can you at some point write (or provide links to) a detailed paper as to why one method is better than the other ?


    Reply: I prefer incentives. Taxation (or a high price for carbon which is a kind of taxation) means those on lower incomes face the biggest penalty as fuel is a higher proportion of their budget.

  6. DennisA
    December 11, 2007

    According to the Met Office Central England Temperature record, it has taken 200 years for 30-year average summer temperatures to beat those of the 18th century.

    1768-1797 15.51 deg C
    1978-2007 15.72 deg C

    This is a miserly 0.21 degree increase in that time, after two centuries of industrialisation and CO2. One wonders how the massive amounts of money expended on attempting to control the climate can be justified, or equally the increasing taxation associated with it.

    Time to look at reality rather than computer simulations.

    Reply: interesting figures – it must have been all those steam engines as they did not use many 4x4s in those days.

  7. mitch
    December 11, 2007

    If you take the bias out of the temperature figures that the ecomentals use there is no global warming the figures have been doctored.Do some research and you will see its a big con to tax us and hamstring china/india.
    The IPCC is not and never has been an organisation that examines all aspects of climate change in a neutral and impartial manner. Its internal procedures reinforce that bias; it makes no attempts to clarify its misleading and ambiguous statements. It is very selective about the material included in its reports; its fundamental claims lack evidence. And most importantly, its actions have skewed the entire field of climate science.

  8. Scott Redding
    December 12, 2007

    "I hope it is windy on Christmas day when we all want to cook our turkeys."

    This is exactly what we need to get used to. For decades, we've become used to turning on switches and having unlimited power, power that we don't associate with its dirty generating sources.

    We have to run appliances when it's windy (domestic wind) or do the dishes when it's been sunny (domestic solar).

  9. David Lindsay
    December 13, 2007

    You are the voice of Old Labour. How many Labour MPs must long to be able to say this? I could name several, although they are all likely or certain to retire either next time or the time after that.

    Reducing CO2 emissions has a long history as a solution in search of a problem. At one time, it was allegedly the solution to global cooling. And its attractions are clear: the prevention of everyone except the likes of Al Gore and George Monbiot from travelling, the preclusion of people in the poor world from using their natural resources to develop as we did, and the destruction of the high-wage, high-skilled, high-status jobs of the working class.

    I believe in nuclear power both in order to restore such jobs, and in order to secure independence from Middle Eastern oil and former Soviet gas. If the Government believed in those things, then it would be building many new nuclear power stations. As it would be doing if it believed in man-made global warming. Indeed, if it so believed, then it would also be reducing or eradicating its huge fleet of cars, and reducing dramatically its members' air travel.

    Clearly, then, the Government does not believe in man-made nuclear power. It just believes in the prevention of everyone except the likes Al Gore and George Monbiot from travelling, in the preclusion of people in the poor world from using their natural resources to develop as we did, and in the destruction of the high-wage, high-skilled, high-status jobs of the working class. As, apparently, does the Nobel Committee.

  10. Bazman
    December 13, 2007

    In 1989 I received a 95% grant for roof insulation from the council on a private Edwardian two bedroom terraced house I owned at the time, with the same subsidy for a inside toilet. No doubt they are both being enjoyed to this day in terms of comfort to the user and benefit to the state.

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