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Paint your roof white

A simple effective idea. Cut air conditioning costs in hot climates by 20% by painting your roof brilliant white. Roofing lasts for about 20-25 years so that the change could be phased it gradually at low cost – only about 15% more than a dark roof. According to the NYT:

‘The physics behind cool roofs […]

University of Melbourne to axe 220 jobs

The decision of the wealthy University of Melbourne to axe 220 jobs shows the strains that the Australian university sector is under. One wonders whether part of the claimed income losses that forced this move are due to Glyn Davis’s forced introduction of the Melbourne Model which has deterred some first year enrollments. The claimed […]

Death of snail mail

In the early days of internet usage the usage of snail mail held up quite well. Some reasoned that there might be complementarities between email and snail mail – improved electronic communications might lead to increased need for exchanging hard letter documents. There also seemed to be a considerable rise in bulk commercial mail.

Whatever […]

Turnbull on ETS

Malcolm Turnbull’s statement on the proposed ETS has to be partly understood as a political act seeking to encourage anti-science fruitcakes in the Coalition to learn to live with an ETS. It is mainly seeking to address competitiveness concerns which can be best addressed short-term by emphasising that the tax base is ‘energy consumption’ with […]

North Korea turns backwards

With the Great Leader Kim Jong Il’s interest in nuclear proliferation this tends to be where the West’s diplomatic focus tends to be in relation to North Korean affairs – its atrocious human rights record tends to be placed in the back-burner – even by South Korea. This excellent article in the Washington Post – […]

Carbon Leakages, Climate Change ‘Free Riders’ and Copenhagen

The issue of devising an efficient and equitable global climate change mitigation agreement is examined. While there are strong damage cost reasons for self-interested, large countries to unilaterally move towards climate change mitigation there are practical reasons for them not to commit. A key issue for developed countries is that of possible carbon leakages while, […]

More on the BTA debate

As I cautioned in my comments on posts by Paul Krugman and John Quiggin it is by no means clear that the recent WTO-UNEP report does give the green light to border tax adjustments (BTAs) which penalise with tariffs the exports of countries which do not mitigate their emissions. This report which was, by luck […]

Relative price trends

The RBA have an easy-to-read discussion of relative price trends in the Australian economy since 1993. Since the introduction of inflation targeting in that year overall inflation has been kept to around the centre of its desired range, about 2.5%. But some items have got relatively cheaper while other items have got much more expensive. […]

Temple of Heaven & the 10 agnates

Today I visited the Temple of Heaven which is south of the centre of Beijing. As I am based in the north west of the city I was driven through the centre of Beijing’s CBD. The Temple itself is one of the mainstream tourist attractions in Beijing – for good reason it is probably the […]

Trade restrictions in the Waxman-Markey Bill

This post at the East Asia Forum clarified many things for me about the trade implications of the Waxman-Markey Clean Energy Bill. Very useful.


Calorie restricted monkeys

I have long had interests in ways of prolonging life. One of the weirdest seemed to me to be calorie restriction (CR) – basically you starve yourself by eating up to 30 per cent fewer calories than you usually do. The standard joke of course is that even if you don’t prolong your life you […]

Arrests of Rio executives in China

It is important that the reasons for the arrests of three Chinese nationals and one Australian of Chinese ethnicity who work for Rio Tinto be made clear as this is damaging the China-Australia economic relationship. It is natural for foreign companies to seek ethnic Chinese to help them in China since they know the lay […]

G8 climate outcome

A reasonable G8 outcome – a commitment by developed countries to cut emissions by 80% by 2050 (But which base date? Hopefully 1990.) and agreement to pursue a 2 degrees C mean global temperature increase target. No agreement yet from India, China and Brazil – they want more specific targets and to see the money […]

Technology-driven approaches to climate management

Tony Blair’s technology-driven approach to dealing with climate change hasn’t enthralled many economists but it is a useful blueprint. Economists favour pricing solutions that drive demand and technology changes. It is useful to understand where and how technology changes can be made and Blair offers a map.


Waxman-Markey & achieving a global consensus at Copenhagen

Andrew Stevenson (of RFF) is full of praise for the W-M bill and points out potentially strong implications. The bill targets a 14% reduction of US GGEs over 2005 levels by 2020 which amount to a return to 1990 emission levels in the US. Many other countries – for example China – were seeking cuts […]

Urumqi fighting

The current fighting in northwest China constitutes the biggest civil disturbances in China since Tiananmen in 1989 with at least 156 dead in the current violence – the most dead being Han Chinese. The fighting seems to be developing along ethnic lines with Muslim Uighur fighting the Han Chinese who provide a majority of the […]

Taxes to reduce incentives to sell cigarettes to youth?

Michael Adams in The Economist’s Voice argues that tobacco companies should be taxed additionally to recoup the statistically-estimated costs of smoking by minors (subscription required). This would mean that cigarette producers would have no incentives to promote their products to young people and since most people start smoking at age 18 or less (the average […]

Qing Dynasty Tombs

Sunday I headed east about 200 km to the Qing Dynasty Tombs they were interesting – although the 5 Emperor tombs are pretty much the same in design. There are also tombs for wives and concubines. Each of the main tombs took decades, and hundreds of thousands of workers, to build. It is one way […]

Developing countries, border taxes & distributive justice

The following contains a global policy proposal for a climate change agreement – it is provisional and I welcome comments.

Developing countries are up in arms about demands – backed by threats of retaliatory tariffs or ‘border tax adjustments’ (BTAs) – that they mitigate their Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GGEs). But BTAs can be implemented along […]

BTAs & climate change

There have been some inaccurate accounts of how border tax adjustments (BTAs) might encourage countries to mitigate their greenhouse gas emissions. A recent report by the WTO-UNEP has been seen by some (including Paul Krugman and John Quiggin) to approve of BTAs. It does no such thing – in the main it carefully restates the […]