You would think, would you not, that a person described by Australia’s ABC News as “one of Europe’s top climate change advisors” would have all the facts and figures to hand when she discusses the European carbon (dioxide) emissions trading scheme.
As reported by the Sun Herald, apparently not. The Sun Herald refers to an interview between Jill Duggan, who helps run the European emissions trading scheme, and Andrew Bolt and Steve Price on MTR radio in Australia (full interview can be found here, worth listening to the full recording but the interview is in the 2nd half). James Delingpole of the UK’s Telegraph newspaper calls the interview the best five minutes of radio on broadcasting history, which might be to exaggerate, but nevertheless the interview is quite remarkable. As Delingole summarises, they make a mockery of her expertise. Happily, the Sun Herald has produced a transcript of a relevant section, which I have copied below:
AB: Your target is to cut Europe’s emissions by 20 per cent by 2020?
AB: Can you tell me how much – to the nearest billions – is that going to cost Europe, do you think?
JD: No, I can’t tell you but I do know that the modelling shows that it’s cheaper to start earlier rather than later.
AB: Right. You wouldn’t quarrel with Professor Richard Tol – who’s not a climate sceptic but is professor at the Economic and Social Research Institute in Dublin? He values it at about $250 billion. You wouldn’t quarrel with that?
JD: I probably would actually. I mean, I don’t know. It’s very, very difficult to quantify.
AB: Right. Well, you don’t know but you think it isn’t $250 billion . . . What sort of temperature reduction do you imagine (you’ll get) from that kind of investment?
JD: Well, what we do know is that to have an even chance of keeping temperature increases globally to 2 degrees … you’ve got to reduce emissions globally by 50 per cent by 2050.
AB: But from the $250 billion — or whatever you think the figure is — what do you think Europe can achieve with this 20 per cent reduction in terms of cutting the world’s temperature?
JD: Well, obviously, Europe accounts for 14 per cent of global emissions. It’s 500 or 550 million people. On its own it cannot do that. That is absolutely clear.
AB: Have you got a figure in your mind? You don’t know the cost. Do you know the result?
JD: I don’t have a cost figure in my mind. One thing I do know, obviously, is that Europe acting alone will not solve this problem alone.
AB: So if I put a figure to you – I find it odd that you don’t know the cost and you don’t know the outcome – would you quarrel with this assessment: that by 2100, if you go your way and if you’re successful, the world’s temperatures will fall by 0.05 degrees? Would you agree with that?
JD: Well, I think the climate science would not be that precise. Would it?
AB: Ah, no, actually it is, Jill. You see, this is what I’m curious about; that you’re in charge of a massive program to re-jig an economy. You don’t know what it costs. And you don’t know what it’ll achieve.
Before continuing, you may just want to read it again, just to make sure you were not imagining the answers. ‘Yes’, she really doesn’t know the cost or what it will achieve. The interview also discusses the impact of the emissions trading scheme on jobs, and Jill Duggan appears equally confused on this subject.
Despite not having any idea of the basic figures, an interview on the ABC website reports her confident assertions and advice on carbon dioxide pricing, as in the following extract:
SIMON CULLEN: One of the big concerns here has been that putting a price on carbon would lead to cost of living pressures, particularly on petrol, power bills. Are they valid concerns?
JILL DUGGAN: One of the purposes of a carbon tax is to increase the price of resources that are high in carbon. But I have to say that the experience in Europe has been that surely carbon prices will have had an impact, but not so that the public have noticed and not relative to other impacts.
It’s not been something that’s had a drastic impact on cost of living.
SIMON CULLEN: So what has been the impact?
JILL DUGGAN: The impact would be say, in particular years would be say a quarter of the impact of rising gas and oil prices. So people notice gas and oil prices rising, they notice the impact on their household bills. The carbon price is much, much smaller than that in impact.
It seems that there is a significant disconnect between the two interviews. In one interview, Jill Duggan is unable to quantify the cost, in another she asserts that it has not had a drastic impact on cost of living. With no figures for the cost of the scheme, one can only wonder how she might make the latter assertion.
Bearing in mind the lack of grasp of answers to (what should be) basic questions by Jill Duggan, it is interesting to see the following on Radio New Zealand:
Critics of New Zealand’s Emissions Trading Scheme are getting their chance to say what they believe is wrong with it.
A review of the scheme was promised for this year, and the review chairman David Caygill has called for submissions on what changes, if any, should be introduced.
Perhaps and starting point for the review might commence with the questions that were put to Jill Duggan?
Just a thought…..