Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Stern Report recommends abolishing the EU

Not, of course, that it does so up front. Over at The Adam Smith Institute blog, Timmy has written a summary of his problems with the Stern Report. As he points out, the Stern Report does its modelling based in the scenarios provided by the Special Report on Emissions Scenarios (SRES), the basis of the IPCC report; however, it only takes the very worst of those scenarios.
There's one part, where [the writers of The Stern Report] do their own modelling, that I think (again, please note, this is my opinion) is an horrendous error, so bad that I think it discredits everything else. The entire logic behind the call to action runs like this: If we don't change our ways now then people in the future will be poorer than they could have been if we did change our ways. As long as the costs to us are less than the increased income in the future from our doing so, then it is a moral imperative that we should indeed change.

However, the model of the future that is used to calculate said future incomes and costs is the 'A2' model from the Special Report on Emissions Scenarios (SRES), the basis of the IPCC report. (Page 61, chapter three of the Stern Report.) This assumes a medium high emissions scenario, a population of 15 billion in 2100 (!!) and a definite slowing of globalization so that we maintain a series of regional economies with little diffusion of technology. This is referred to as the business as usual (BAU) scenario.

In other words, the Stern Report assumes no real progress in human interaction over the course of the next century or so, an assumption that I think patently ridiculous.
However, that is something of a misunderstanding of the SRES scenarios. Each scenario has an equal probability, there is no such thing as 'this is what will happen unless we do something'. There are other families of scenarios, like the A1, B1 and B2 ones. The A1 family, for example, is based upon the international movement of people, ideas and technology and a strong commitment to market-based solutions. It's worth noting that this produces a world, in aggregate, twice as rich as the A2 one used by the Stern Report and given the lower population, one four times as rich per head of population.

So if indeed it is true that we have a moral duty to ensure that our descendants are as rich as possible (which is, after all, the report's justification for mitigation now) then don't we also have one to push the world in the A1 direction, not the A2? More globalization for example? That would have a much greater effect on their standards of living than any of the mitigation that the report proposes. Missing this point means that I'm rather less than impressed with the rest of the report.

Well, quite. Now, if we are to push the world into the direction of the A1 scenario, then that means we should be entering into as much free trade and international cooperation as possible, otherwise bad things will happen, right? That means that we should abolish barriers to free trade, that we should get rid of all quota systems and tariffs, correct?

Now, as a country, Britain cannot do this; why? That's right: because we are part of the EU. The EU is a protectionist entity that operates (and is heavily funded) by imposes tariffs and quotas on imports into its territory. These mechanisms will direct us more to an A2 scenario than an A1 scenario and are thus going to do active harm to the environment and the future world economy. So a good course to take would be our withdrawal from the EU, but the best course would be the dissolution of the EU and the associated trade barriers.

So, in a way, the Stern Report says ceterum censeo Consilium Europaeum esse delendam: and, therefore, I conclude that the European Union must be destroyed.

However, the Stern Report doesn't, of course, say that; in fact, it takes the scenario that specifically does not advocate that particular course of action: why?

Because the Stern Report has to assume that this course of action—free trade and greater international (not just European) cooperation—is a course that is not open to us because we are part of the EU. In fact, the report only allows for courses of action that fit in with our membership of that organisation.

The report's author, Nicholas Stern, "was recruited by Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown to work for the British government where, in 2003, he became second permanent secretary at H.M. Treasury, initially with responsibility for public finances, and head of the Government Economic Service.". In other words, he works for Gordon Brown and will have been given his instructions; and it is obvious that his instructions were, "do not paint a picture that would justify us leaving the EU, nor one that will not justify tax rises".

It is also worth noting that Britain does not really control its environmental policy anymore; it is an EU competence. As such, should we decide that something needs to be done, almost the only real way that the British government can do anything is through the tax system. This, of course, is very convenient for Gordon Brown because, whilst the economy is actually doing quite well at the moment (with growth of about 2.4% in the last twelve months to September), the public finances are in a worse state than ever: our Cyclopean Chancellor desperately needs more money to flow into the Treasury coffers.

In other words, ladies and gentlemen of the 'sphere, the Stern Report truly stitches us up like kippers and behind it all is the Machiavellian claw of the fucking Gobblin' King.

3 comments:

Serf said...

It is also worth noting that Britain does not really control its environmental policy anymore; it is an EU competence.

Can we start calling these what they really are:

it is an EU incompetence

CityUnslicker said...

It is an admirable leap of analysis Mr Devil.

Slagella said...

Perhaps this is what the EU is for? To stop a member state committing suicide?