A high carbon tax is wrong

* This is my article in BusinessWorld last October 19, 2017.

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Political science masquerading as climate science insist that the gas that we humans and our animals exhale, the gas that is used by trees, flowers, fruits and other crops to grow and feed the world — carbon dioxide or CO2 — is a pollutant that must be over-taxed and over-regulated.

Far from the truth. CO2 is a useful gas, not a pollutant.

Since it is useful, the optimal carbon tax for coal in particular is not P10/ton, not P20, not P600, but zero. However, a zero tax on coal is unpopular from the world of climate alarmism, so we classify these tax rates as follows: P0 tax is optimal, P10/ton is rational, P20/ton is compromise, P600 is irrational.

Recently, eminent economist Dr. Ciel Habito made a follow-up paper, “The case for the carbon tax” and insist that the carbon tax for coal should be raised from the current P10/ton to P600/ton.

To support his claim, he used some ridiculous numbers that are peddled by the watermelon (green outside, red inside) movement. Here are two:

(1) “Dominated by CO2 (72%), GHGs trap heat… .”

Wrong. CO2 is 400 ppm or only 0.04% of all greenhouse gases (GHGs). About 95% of GHGs is water vapor — the clouds, evaporation from the seas, oceans, lakes, rivers, stomata of leaves, etc. The remaining 4%+ are methane, nitrous oxide, others.

(2) “CO2 averaged about 280 parts per million (ppm) for the last 10,000 years…In 2015… 400 ppm for the first time…. now triggering much more frequent extreme weather events.”

This is perhaps 5% geological science and 95% politics.

The Minoan, Roman, and Medieval Warm Periods (when there were no SUVs, no coal plants, no airplanes) were much warmer than the Modern Warm Period (mid-1800s to roughly 2000). There were wild swings in global warming and global cooling cycles regardless of the CO2 level. How would one call this — “much less frequent extreme weather events than today?” Garbage.

Climate change (CC) is true. All skeptics recognize climate change, recognize global warming. Planet Earth is 4.6 billion years old and there were climate change all those years because climate change is cyclical (warming-cooling-warming-cooling…) and natural. Global warming is true, and so is global cooling.

It is political science that masquerades as climate science to say that there is no climate cycle, that there is no global cooling that takes place after global warming.

BACK TO COAL POWER.

From the recent energy and economic experience of our neighbors in Asia and some industrial countries in the world, the hard lessons are these: (a) Countries that have coal consumption of at least 2.1x expansion over the past two decades are also those that experienced fast GDP growth of at least 3x expansion.

Prominent examples are China, India, South Korea, Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Philippines, and even Pakistan. And (b) Philippines’ coal consumption is small compared to its neighbors; its 2016 use is just nearly 1/2 of Malaysia and Vietnam’s, just 1/3 of Taiwan’s and almost 1/5 of Indonesia’s, 1/6 of South Korea’s, 1/9 of Japan’s. (see table)

CoalConsumption_101917
A high carbon tax is irrationalI have repeatedly argued that CO2 is a useful gas. For those who insist that CO2 is a pollutant, they can certainly help curb further CO2 emission even without legislation and carbon taxation through the following:

  • Stop breathing too often; more exhalation means more CO2 emission.
  • Stop adopting pets (if any), stop eating chicken, pork, meat because these animals exhale CO2.
  • Stop using their cars, not even jeepneys or buses, they emit CO2; skateboards and bicycles only.
  • Stop riding airplanes and motorized boats, they emit CO2; solar planes or big kites and sailboats only.
  • Stop connecting from the grid and from Meralco because 48% of nationwide electricity generation comes from coal; no gensets either. Use only solar-wind-biomass + candles at home.
  • Tell their friends, business associates, family members, to do the same so that there will be more people emitting less CO2.

The Habito proposal of more expensive electricity via P600/ton carbon tax on coal is dangerous because while the Senate version of TRAIN adopts a P20/ton excise tax, the P600 can spring up somewhere during the final and Bicameral Committee meeting. The proposal should be exposed as based on political science, not geological or climate science.

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Why a carbon tax is wrong

* This is my article in BusinessWorld last week.

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Coal power produced nearly 48% of Philippines’ actual electricity generation in 2016 despite having only 34.6% share in the country’s installed power capacity of 21,400 MW or 21.4 GW, Department of Energy (DoE) figures show.

Renewables (hydro, geothermal, wind, solar, biomass) produced 24.2% of total power generation in 2016 despite having 32.5% of installed power capacity. In particular, wind + solar combined contributed a small 2.3% of total power generation.

At a forum organized by the Energy Policy Development Program (EPDP) at the UP School of Economics last Oct. 5, the speaker Dr. Francisco Viray, former DoE secretary and now president and CEO of PhinMa Energy Corp., showed in his presentation a screen shot of Dr. Ciel Habito’s article, “Let’s get the carbon tax right.” Ciel was arguing among others, that the carbon tax for coal power should be raised from the current P10/ton to P600/ton and not P20/ton as contained in Senate bill No. 1592 of Sen. Angara.

I commented during the open forum that Ciel’s article in reality has a wrong title, it should have been “A carbon tax is wrong.” And here are the reasons why.

One, as mentioned above, coal power was responsible for nearly 48% of total electricity generation nationwide in 2016 and it is wrong to restrict its supply and/or make its price become more expensive. Kill coal or even drastic cut in coal power would mean massive, large-scale, and nationwide blackouts for several hours a day, something that consumers wouldn’t want to endure. After all, even a one minute brownout can already cause widespread disappointment.

Two, the Philippines’ overall coal consumption – in absolute amount and in per capita level – is small compared to the consumption of its neighbors in Asia (see table).

My-Cup-of-Liberty-101117

The Philippines has only 100 kilos or 0.1 ton per head per year of coal, the smallest in the region. There is no basis to suggest restricting further coal use given the fast demand for electricity nationwide.

Three, it is wrong to advocate more expensive electricity via high carbon tax given that subsidies to renewables via feed-in-tariff (FiT), among others, are already adding upward price pressure. A higher carbon tax may be more acceptable to the consumers if the FiT scheme is discontinued and ultimately abolished. If this is not done, better to keep coal excise tax as low as possible.

The proposed P600/ton excise tax on coal power would translate to P0.24/kWh hike in power generation charge. Using Ciel’s numbers, one ton of coal can generate 2,519 kWh electricity on average. So P600/2,519 kWh = P0.24/kWh. That is equivalent to FiT-Allowance that each electricity consumer from Luzon to Mindanao must pay monthly for many years to come.

Four, it is wrong to demonize and over-regulate carbon dioxide (CO2) as a pollutant because it is not. CO2 is invisible, colorless, and odorless unlike those dark smoke coming from vehicles and chimneys of old manufacturing plants.

CO2 is the gas that humans and animals exhale, the gas that flowers, trees, rice and other crops use to produce their own food via photosynthesis. More CO2 means more plant growth, faster greening of the planet. CO2 therefore is a useful gas, not a pollutant gas that the UN, Al Gore, and other groups and individuals would portray it.

While the hike in coal excise tax from P10 to P20/ton as contained in the Senate version is somehow acceptable, there is danger that the P600/ton proposal will spring out of nowhere during the bicameral meeting of the House and Senate leaders. This should not be allowed to happen.

Continued demonization of coal and rising favoritism of variable renewables like wind-solar would mean more expensive electricity, more unstable grid, and darker streets at night. Dark streets would mean more road accidents, more robbery, more abduction and rapes, more murders as criminals benefit from anonymity provided by darkness.

Energy irrationality can kill more people today, not 40 or 100 years from now. The irrationality and insensitivity of rising government taxes should be restricted and limited.

Al Gore’s proposed $15 trillion carbon tax racket

According to the bible of Al Gore, the UN and other groups/individuals, we should be guilty that we are riding cars, jeepneys, buses, motorcycles, airplanes, boats, other machines that use fossil fuels. We should be riding only cows, horses, bicycles, skateboards other things that do not use fossil fuel. We should be guilty that we have 24/7 electricity mainly from base load coal and natgas power plants. Thus, we should send them more money via carbon tax so that they can “save the planet.” Nice but not-so-brilliant global robbery scheme.
http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/a-fools-errand-al-gores-15-trillion-carbon-tax/article/2622479

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The purpose of a carbon tax is to make cheaper energy, cheaper transpo, cheaper manufacturing, become expensive. National governments, the UN and Al Gore will get the extra money, trillions of $ of money and they will “save the planet”. http://www.carbontax.net.au/category/what-is-the-carbon-tax/

Al Gore, Obama, di Caprio, Richard Branson, etc., they hate fossil-fuel-guzzling airplanes a lot. https://wattsupwiththat.com/2015/04/20/want-a-green-pass-you-fly-your-own-private-jet-heres-how/

Meanwhile, the WB, IMF, ADB, DOF, etc already made a chorus that petroleum is a “public bad” because our use of cars, buses, boats, motorcycles, airplanes are bad for the environment, so they are raising the excise tax of petrol products by P6/liter across the board. Some legislators are not satisfied with this, they want additional tax on petrol products, coal power plants, etc. to get more money to “save the planet.” http://www.philstar.com/science-and-environment/2016/11/10/1642091/carbon-tax-eyed-philippine-polluters

People who are “non-polluters” are those who have zero demand for fossil fuels like petroleum and coal power plants. Like those who live in the caves, those who only ride horses, carabaos, bicycles or just walk/run only. For their trips to far away provinces and countries, they ride flying witches like manananggals that do not use fossil fuels.

The ecological socialists partner with “cap-carbon” capitalists for a multi-trillion dollars robbery of energy consumers. New racket indeed, but it is bound to fail. People hate more expensive energy, more government/UN taxation.

On the death of Australia’s carbon tax

* Originally posted  on July 17, 2014.

Today, Australia officially killed the onerous, climate alarmism law, carbon tax. I am posting below portions of selected news reports on the subject.

From The Australian today,

The Prime Minister, while claiming victory after a five-year campaign against carbon pricing, also launched a new campaign against the Labor Party’s promise to take a replacement emissions trading scheme to the next election.

1And from the WSJ today,

“He said the carbon price was acting as a A$9 billion a year handbrake on the economy, which was adjusting to the end of a record mining investment boom that helped shield Australia through much of the recent global economic downturn….

The carbon tax has affected industries ranging from mining and energy to aviation, and was widely opposed by manufacturers and a majority of business representative groups including the country’s main chamber of commerce….

Airline operators also said they had been hurt badly by the tax, at a time when intensifying competition in Australia’s domestic travel market was already driving down ticket prices. Virgin Australia Holdings Ltd. VAH.AU 0.00% said it lost A$27 million in the six months through December 2013 due to the carbon tax, saying it couldn’t pass costs on to passengers because of stiff market competition. It reported a first-half loss of A$83.7 million.”

Earlier, WUWT and Anthony Watts, June 10, 2014, noted the alliance between the two leaders of Australia and Canada.

“It’s not that we don’t seek to deal with climate change,” said Harper. “But we seek to deal with it in a way that will protect and enhance our ability to create jobs and growth. Not destroy jobs and growth in our countries.”

2

From Ottawa Citizen, Mark Kennedy:

Abbott, whose Liberal party came to power last fall on a conservative platform, publicly praised Harper for being an “exemplar” of “centre-right leadership” in the world.

Abbott’s government has come under criticism for its plan to cancel Australia’s carbon tax, while Harper has been criticized for failing to introduce regulations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Canada’s oil and gas sector.

From International Business Times (IBT) Australia, June 10, 2014,

Tony Abbott to ‘Forge Alliance’ to Counter Obama’s Efforts to Push Climate Change on Top

Abbott, who is visiting Canada for talks with the country’s prime minister and his close friend Stephen Harper, said efforts are underway to form a new “center-right” alliance under the leadership of Canada, UK, Australia, India and New Zealand….

In a report by the Sydney Morning Herald, it said the alliance may be a “calculated attempt” to push back on what both Mr Abbott and Mr Harper sees as a “left-liberal agenda” to raise taxes and “unwise” plans to address the issue of global warming.

From The Telegraph, June 10, 2014,

“”Like-minded” countries such as Britain, Canada and India should form a conservative alliance with Australia to limit action on climate change and to prevent the introduction of carbon pricing, the country’s prime minister Tony Abbott has said.

Seeking to counter Barack Obama’s efforts for international action to reduce carbon emissions, Mr Abbott has reportedly sought to create a “combined front” with fellow Commonwealth nations that have conservative governments.”

September last year, Tony Abbott also abolished the Ministry of Climate Change, helped shrink the size of Australian government.

From pointcarbon.com,

AUSTRALIA AXES MINISTERIAL ROLE FOR CLIMATE CHANGE

16 Sep 2013 09:40 Last updated: 16 Sep 2013 09:51

BEIJING, Sept 16 (Reuters Point Carbon) – The new Australian Cabinet will be the first in six years to not have a ministerial role for climate change issues, merging instead global warming with the wider environment portfolio.

Announcing his Cabinet on Monday, incoming Prime Minister Tony Abbott appointed Greg Hunt, the Liberal-National Coalition’s spokesman on climate change issues since 2009, as the new Minister for the Environment.

So, RIP, carbon tax, at least in Australia.

3I hope that other developed countries will realize the folly of making things become more expensive than what they should be, from electricity to manufacturing to mining to flying and tourism. People want affordable products and services so they can live a more prosperous, more comfortable life. It is the reward for their hard labor and efficiency.

Coal power, James Hansen and the RE law

* Originally posted on July 18, 2012.

Way back in 15 February 2009, the head of NASA GISS (Goddard Institute for Space Studies), Dr. James Hansen, proclaimed these scary scenarios:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/feb/15/james-hansen-power-plants-coal

“A year ago, I wrote to Gordon Brown… causing more warming. As species are exterminated by shifting climate zones, ecosystems can collapse, destroying more species….Our planet is in peril. If we do not change course, we’ll hand our children a situation that is out of their control. One ecological collapse will lead to another, in amplifying feedbacks.

practically all of the glaciers could be gone within 50 years – if carbon dioxide continues to increase at current rates. Coral reefs, harbouring a quarter of ocean species, are threatened…

Clearly, if we burn all fossil fuels, we will destroy the planet we know. Carbon dioxide would increase to 500 ppm or more. We would set the planet on a course to the ice-free state, with sea level 75 metres higher….

Coal is not only the largest fossil fuel reservoir of carbon dioxide, it is the dirtiest fuel. Coal is polluting the world’s oceans and streams with mercury, arsenic and other dangerous chemicals. The dirtiest trick that governments play on their citizens is the pretence that they are working on “clean coal” or that they will build power plants that are “capture-ready” in case technology is ever developed to capture all pollutants.

The trains carrying coal to power plants are death trains. Coal-fired power plants are factories of death….”

Can one believe that?
* coal is the single biggest threat to civilization
* climate nearing tipping points, destruction of more species
* planet in peril, ecological collapse will lead to another
* all the glaciers could be gone in 50 years (by 2059)
* sea level 75 meters higher (about 25 storeys high building, gasp!)
* death trains, coal power plants are factories of death.

Wow, one wonders if it was an objective scientist or an environmental priest who wrote that.

 Here’s a recent update about that story,

http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/07/17/hansens-death-trains-now-with-extra-scary-coal-fallout/
Hansen’s Death Trains – now with extra scary ‘coal fallout’
Posted on July 17, 2012 by Anthony Watts
——–

I posted my article Fat-Free Econ 16: Coal, Climate and Government in my UPSEAA yahoogroups, there were a few exchanges. I am posting a summary of my arguments there.

About the greenies who might get angry at my article, I have actually challenged them to a debate a few times in the past — in direct emails, yahoogroups, facebook, twitter, etc., there is only one standard reply: the sound of silence. I think it is their favorite song too by Simon and Garfunkel.

About the proposal by the NREB to impose a carbon tax, here is the news report.

http://www.interaksyon.com/article/29887/carbon-tax-on-fossil-fuel-fed-power-plants-pushed
Carbon tax on fossil fuel-fed power plants pushed

By: Euan Paulo C. Anonuevo, InterAksyon.com
April 20, 2012 7:26 AM

MANILA, Philippines – The National Renewable Energy Board (NREB) is pushing for a “carbon tax” on power plants that run on fossil fuels to help offset the cost of renewable energy projects.

During the 2nd Philippine Renewable Energy Summit, Pete H. Maniego Jr., NREB chairman, said the government should consider imposing a tax similar to that in India to support renewable projects.

“If the $1.00 per metric ton carbon tax is imposed on coal imports only, $10.97 million or P469.00 million could be raised,” he said….

Fellow UPSE alumni Vince Perez, I think, is a key figure for many of these renewable energy (RE) rackets. The RE law of 2008 was enacted when he was DOE Secretary. When his term ended, he became WWF President or Chairman, and WWF is a monster lobbyist for climate alarmism and racket, so WWF is among those pushing for the full enactment of the RE law and the feed in tariff (FIT) scheme. He also owns two power companies engaged in wind power, including the poster photo wind farms in Ilocos.

I follow Viince on twitter. Last May 08, 2012, he was attending one of those international fora how to save the planet, he was tweeting what was going on, I was replying to his tweets, like these:

 Global temps are falling, sea level not rising, global cooling not warming,

 Vince, WWF makes oodles of money with climate alarmism and public deception,

He did not reply.

I also replied to tweets by the Climate Change Commission (CCC) last May 7 and 8 this year,

  “Fight climate change”, how can you fight one that naturally occurs? Endless racket?

  Endless WB racket and climate alarmism by the CCC, climate change is purely natural,

And none of them too, would reply. The problem with the climate racket is that it is the UN and the multilaterals, WB and ADB included, which are the big alarmism pushers, no different from those drug pushers. For these banks, climate mitigation loans, climate adaptation loans, renewable energy loans, electric tricycle loans, etc. are cute ways to extort more money from taxpayers in the name of saving the planet.

Then the rent seeking greenies like the WWF and Greenpeace play tango-salsa-el bimbo with the UN, multilaterals and national governments. Each of them happy milking more money from our pockets, telling us what power sources we can put up and subsidize, and which ones to demonize if not kill.