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Tuesday, 19 January


Europe’s future is bleak with an ageing population and policy failure Bill Mitchell – billy blog

I read an interesting article that was published on December 18, 2015 by the Center for Global Development, which is one those centrist-type research and advocacy organisations that lean moderately to the right on economic matters. The article – Europe’s Refugee Crisis Hides a Bigger Problem – discusses what it considers to be “three population related crises”, two of which at the forefront of public attention (because they are moving fast) – the “refugee crisis” and the “terrorism crisis”. The third is “Europe’s slow moving and in inexorable ageing crisis”, which is largely being ignored in the public debate. The article provides a basis to link the three crises together – in the sense that “Europe actually needs millions of migrants a year to mitigate its ageing crisis”. While I have some sympathy with the article, there are many omissions that reflect the bias of the author. Two major issues – mass unemployment and productivity growth are ignored completely. The emphasis in the article is on whether the public sector can afford not to bring in more people to offset the ageing of the EU28 population. That emphasis discloses the bias of the author and diminishes the strength of the article.

The article argues that under “UN “zero migration” variant population projections by 2050, the labor force aged (15-64) population shrinks by 62 million in core Europe”, which is a substantial shift in 35 years in the composition of the population.

The other aspect of this shrinkage in the labour force is the projected rise of 45 million in the over 65 year age bracket.

The article says:

Never has the combination of fertility changes and improvements in longevity produced such dramatic inversions of the demogra...


Sandpit John Quiggin

A new sandpit for long side discussions, idees fixes and so on. Discussions about climate policy and related issues can be posted here, along with the usual things.


Environment minister Greg Hunt’s new ‘value capture’ language Prosper Australia

Environment minister Greg Hunt, on behalf of the Turnbull government, is offering new language about ‘value capture’ – a fresh way to fund infrastructure using the uplift in land values from civic investment. From a speech to be delivered to the Sydney Business Chamber today, The Age says: “Mr Hunt will warn that the public […]


Obama does for the coal industry what it cannot do for itself Renew Economy

Once a critical player in the energy future of the U.S., the coal industry is now little more than a self-interested party seeking a bailout.


Increasing fuel efficiency: standards vs prices John Quiggin

As I mentioned in a previous post, I’ll be talking to the Victorian Transport Economic Forum on decarbonizing transport on Wednesday, 10 February 2016 from 5pm at the Public Transport Victoria Corporate Centre, 750 Collins Street, Docklands. I thought I’d start with the policy issue implying the smallest change in existing transport patterns, increasing the fuel efficiency of petrol-engined vehicles. The primary choice here is between relying on a carbon price and imposing fuel efficiency standards. For those who want the shorter version, I think we need both but standards are probably going to be more important.

I’ll look first at the carbon price. We need some basic data: a barrel of oil is associated with something over 300 kg of CO2 emissions, while a litre of petrol generates about 2.3 kg of emissions. So, a carbon price of $US100/tonne would translate a bit over $US30/barrel or 23 cents/liter – about a dollar per US gallon (at current exchange rates for Australia, that’s around 35c/litre, maybe a bit more after accounting for retail markups, GST and so on). Those numbers can be halved for a price of $50/tonne.

Given the fluctuations we see regularly, it’s hard to imagine a carbon price of $50/tonne having much impact on patterns of supply and demand. but $50 looks to me to be at the upper end of realistic possibility (in particular, it’s enough to make new coal-fired electricity generation uneconomic almost everywhere).

A price of $100/tonne would be more serious: under current market conditions, the tax-inclusive price would be $60/tonne, twice as much as the price received by producers. That seems significant in terms of the long term impact on supply, since there are lots of producers with lo...


Autonomous cars likely to increase congestion Renew Economy

Congestion is a serious issue in developed countries, but autonomous cars are likely to be as much a part of the problem as part of the solution.


Rupert Murdoch is marrying a climate hawk Renew Economy

On Tuesday, climate activist Jerry Hall and climate super-denier Rupert Murdoch announced their impending nuptials in one of his many newspapers.


Denmark blows past old wind record Renew Economy

Wind turbines generated 42 percent of demand last year in Denmark, topping the old record of 39 percent from the previous year.


World’s biggest EV and storage maker predicts annual doubling in market Renew Economy

World's largest EV maker says market will double every year for next three years, and sees strong growth in battery storage for homes.


Emissions-free air freight? How about a solar-powered helium airship Renew Economy

Could a giant airship with helium compressors and solar panels cut emissions in the air freight transport sector? It may sound like an idea from Thunderbirds, but former UK chief scientist says it might work.


Hazelwood owner Engie launches push for 1,000GW of solar Renew Economy

Engie, the owner of the dirty Hazelwood brown coal generator, launches an initiative to have 1,000GW of solar installed in the world by 2030. That would keep the world on track to meet its 2C target, and is the first big sign that the private sector will seek to deliver on the ambitious targets agreed in Paris.


The off-grid solar company connecting 12,000 homes a month Renew Economy

One company is installing solar and storage in 12,000 homes/month in Tanzania. So much for coal being only solution.

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Monday, 18 January


Monday Message Board John Quiggin

Another Monday Message Board. Post comments on any topic. Civil discussion and no coarse language please. Side discussions and idees fixes to the sandpits, please.

Sunday, 17 January


An inconvenient gun fact for Nicholas Kristof, and David Leyonjhelm John Quiggin

Nicholas Kristof has a column in the NY Times, headlined Some Inconvenient Gun Facts for Liberals . The headline, though presumably not chosen by Kristof, is a pretty accurate summary of the article, which berates liberals for proposing various ineffectual gun control measures, and concludes:

Let’s make America’s gun battles less ideological and more driven by evidence of what works.

If Kristof wants to be taken seriously, he ought to acknowledge the actual evidence of what works, namely, measures that drastically reduce the number of guns and restrict their availability. I discussed the evidence a bit more in this post, with links.

Of course, such measures aren’t politically feasible in the US, and have to be disavowed by politicians seeking even limited progress. But if Kristof started by admitting this, he’d end up with a very different analysis than the one he’s putting forward. The primary criterion for any gun control policy in the US has to be to maximize the ratio of long-term harm reduction to political cost. I don’t have any particularly good ideas about political strategies. Still, it’s clear that Kristof’s operating assumption that sweet reason will be sufficient, or even helpful, is way off the mark.

In the Australian context, it’s notable that the only people who deny the obvious facts about gun control are those who have a strong ideological or personal motive for doing so. It’s scarcely surprising that gun enthusiasts want to resist an...

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