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7 reasons why climate change can’t be about tax and control

January 17, 2010

1) In business of any kind, the most profitable paradigm is ‘business as usual’ (BAU). Any change – any change at all – costs money. Costs reduce taxation because they are deducted from the profits on which taxes are levied. If any government wishes to maximise tax revenue, then stability and as little change as possible is the best environment for predictable and consistent revenue. Climate change in all its implications is, for businesses everywhere, a frightening cost with no counterbalancing potential for profit (outside of renewables).

2) One often sees figures bandied about alluding to the amount of money potentially being raised through carbon tax mechanisms. In all accountancy practices, there are two sides to a balance sheet – profit and loss. No denier has ever acknowledged that while taxes may produce more revenue, climate change itself will weigh heavily on the loss side of the account. Where is the money to come from for investment in renewables? How much will be lost in standard tax revenues through depressed sales, less disposable income, unemployment?

Where will the money come from that we need to ameliorate the costs of mitigation in developing nations? What is the cost of disruption, of civil disorder (which we will definitely see more of). Of mass movements of displaced people, the loss of viable agricultural land, the diminished fresh water supplies?

3) Taxation of any kind is perceived as a burden. What government would choose a strategy so likely to produce a counter-reaction in the voting booth? There were riots when our government tried to impose higher fuel taxes. Scale this up by several orders of magnitude and you will realise that no matter how this is framed, extra taxation is nothing but political suicide.

4) The whole taxation trope depends on all the governments of the world going along with it. Given the disarray of our global political institutions, and the fact that our own government can’t even disguise their appropriation of our money to pay their spouses’ porn bills and build duck ponds, do you really propose that there is some giant conspiracy (for which, by the way, there is not one single shred of evidence) to foist a scam of unprecedented proportions on the entire world? This is simply daft.

5) But let’s pursue this a little further, and talk about China, whose economic self-interest is best served by denying climate change. They are a totalitarian state, so they cannot exercise more control over their population than they already have. Therefore, i they want to raise more taxes, they can do so without needing any excuse whatever, because if Chinese people complain they just run over the complainants with tanks or chuck them in jail for a few hundred years. So I ask you this: why has China endorsed the climate change theory? What can they possibly gain that they do not already have?

6) Still on the China issue, they depend for their economic growth on foreign exchange, exports and investments, a great deal of which is in the form of T-bills, shares in western companies and foreign debt. Climate change mitigation threatens every investment they hold but reducing the value of shares, the revenue from them, by depressing consumer markets, by increasing all costs – materials, transport, wages – and destabilising the global economy. Again, why would China support climate change.

7) And if China wanted to deny climate change, since their scientific institutions are beholden to the totalitarian regime, do you not think they could ‘instruct’ their scientists to disprove the theory of climate change. Do they not have computer modellers? Geologists? Atmospheric scientists and the rest. Of course they do. And yet, we see no ‘scientific’ evidence that disputes climate change theory – not one jot – coming out of China. Why is this?

My questions to you are rhetorical of course, but I hope I make it quite clear why the tax and control argument is fatuous, rather paranoid and wholly illogical.

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