Unhealthy economics of the local weather campaign (mitigation not supported by mainstream evaluation) – watt with the?

Reposted by MasterResource

By Robert Bradley Jr. – July 30, 2021

“Although the advocacy of aggressive climate change policies is often clad in the cloak of science, mainstream economists following the scientific literature have shown that the popular policy target of 1.5 ° C will generate costs that far exceed benefits , and that the emission reductions flow. “From strictly adhering to the 1.5 ° C target would be worse for the world than doing nothing.” (Murphy and McKitrick, below)

Adaptation, not mitigation, has long been the answer of climate economics to climate policy. In fact, with lower estimates of climate sensitivity, carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are viewed as a positive externality in business jargon rather than a negative one that requires government correction.

A new study by Robert P. Murphy and Ross McKitrick, Off Target: The Economics Literature Does Not Support the 1.5C Climate Ceiling, explains this to both professional economists and climate intelligence. The short and sweet study published by the Fraser Institute (Canada) uses the peer-reviewed literature to undermine a key assumption / goal of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) scheduled for November in Glasgow, UK.

Note that the climate has warmed by around 1.2 ° C since pre-industrial times, happily ending the Little Ice Age. The magical 1.5 ° C brings the world only 0.3 ° C permissible warming, as if we were doomed to failure by a larger increase. [1]

The summary of the report follows:


Many advocates of government intervention to curb greenhouse gas emissions have called for a temperature cap for global warming. The consensus was originally 2 degrees Celsius, but proponents of more aggressive measures managed to move the target, at least as a target, to 1.5 degrees.

This new goal is embodied in a 2018 report by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) entitled Special Report: Global Warming of 1.5 ° C (SR1.5). In this report, we leave aside the extremely difficult question of translating a temperature target into an emissions target and focus on the temperature target itself.

It is generally, but incorrectly, believed that the SR1.5 recommended the 1.5 ° C target on the basis that it was necessary to avoid large net economic and social losses. In fact, however, the report expressly dispensed with a cost-benefit analysis and made no statements about the results of such an analysis. For the most part, the IPCC simply tried to compare the model’s projected effects of 2.0 ° C warming to that of 1.5 ° C, and unsurprisingly came to the conclusion that the former would be greater.

In this report, we argue that striving for a 1.5 ° C ceiling on global warming is inconsistent with current economic analysis. In fact, the 1.5 ° C target did not emerge from either the economic literature or a formal cost-benefit analysis. The SR1.5 simply took the goal as given from the outside. Our report provides several lines of reasoning to show that the economic literature as a whole does not support the 1.5 ° C target.

For example, on the same weekend that the UN published its special report, William Nordhaus was awarded the Commemorative Nobel Prize for his groundbreaking work on the economics of climate change. Major media treated the two events as complementary, provided that Nordhaus’ work supported the 1.5 ° C target.

On the contrary, his most recent modeling work (2016) predicted that the “optimal” global warming would be 3.5 ° C by the year 2100, a full two degrees higher than the popular target. In fact, Nordhaus’s model estimates that an upper limit of 1.5 ° C would be so detrimental to the economy that it would be better for humanity if governments did nothing about climate change at all instead of pursuing such draconian policies.

Or consider the “social cost of carbon,” which economists define as the present value, in dollars, of future damage caused by the emission of an additional tonne of carbon dioxide. The Biden administration’s EPA in February 2021 estimated the social cost of carbon at $ 62 in 2030. However, SR1.5 conceded that fraserinstitute.org’s guidelines set out therein to achieve the 1.5 ° C target for only social costs of carbon in 2030 between $ 135 and $ 5,500 per ton would be justified, costs, which is 2 to 89 times the EPA estimate.

In many ways, SR1.5 represented a departure from the views expressed by the IPCC in its Fifth Assessment Report 2014 on the economic effects of climate change. We show that the UN has chosen a completely different team of authors for SR1.5.

The Fifth Assessment Report, Volume II, summarized, among other things, the economic consequences of climate projections. Regardless of the similarity of this topic with the NB1.5 and the short interval between the reports, when comparing the corresponding chapter from the Fifth Assessment Report (Chapter 10) with that of the NB1.5 (Chapter 3), there was no overlap between the coordinating main authors, main authors , Review editors or chapter scientists. Among the 69 authors of the Special Report, Chapter 3, there was only one who had also contributed to the Chapter of the Fifth Assessment Report on the Effects of Climate Change.

Finally, we show that the UN Special Report based its reversal of the previous consensus largely on the basis of two new studies that claimed a much greater burden on economic growth from climate change than in many previous studies. In doing so, the SR1.5 overlooked other new studies that had confirmed the previous consensus. The two new studies have been criticized for methodological reasons in the years since the special report; other authors have not confirmed their results.

Though advocacy of aggressive climate change policies is often clad in the cloak of science, mainstream economists following the scientific literature have shown that the popular policy target of 1.5 ° C will have costs that far exceed the benefits Strictly adhering to the 1.5 ° C target would be worse for the world than doing nothing at all.


As the coronavirus pandemic subsides, global attention is returning to the threat of climate change as many governments commit to drastically reducing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions. Those pushing for aggressive action have largely allied around a goal, or at least an ambitious goal, to limit global warming to 1.5 ° C overall.

Discussion among policy experts, government officials, and major media outlets would, of course, lead the average Canadian to believe that the 1.5 ° C target is well founded in peer-reviewed literature.

However, this is by no means the case, as we have shown in this study. William Nordhaus, for example, argues that a much milder target of 3.5 ° C would be optimal and, in fact, that the 1.5 ° C target is so costly that it would be better for governments to do nothing at all instead enforce such a draconian limit.

The 2018 United Nations Special Report, which sets out the ostensible scientific rationale for the 1.5 ° C target, does not even attempt to justify the 1.5 ° C cap by saying that the benefits outweigh the costs. In addition, the 2018 report deviates from the consensus summarized in the United Nations’ own earlier document from 2014. The few studies highlighted in the 2018 Special Report are outliers in the literature, getting their large estimates of the damage from climate change through questionable methods that other researchers criticized.

Canadian policymakers and the public should beware of pursuing aggressive climate targets, especially the 1.5 ° C ceiling, when those targets are politically rather than scientifically derived.


[1] David Roberts on VOX said:

In short, there is no such thing as a “safe” level of global warming. Climate change is not something bad that could happen, it is something bad that is happening. Average global temperatures have risen by around 1.3 ° C from pre-industrial levels, and California and Australia are already on fire.

This is the deep ecology view that any human influence on the climate is bad, that nature is optimal, a view that I am criticizing here.

Why is such a temperature change bad? I can walk across the street and not notice the temperature change from the accumulated warming of the last century or more – and that got us into a crisis?

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