Carbon taxes first, then environmental taxes

Torstai 15.7.2021 klo 19:23 - Mikko Nikinmaa

Both European Union and USA are planning to introduce carbon taxes on imports from third countries with more lenient standards in coal use in production. Since these two areas are the most important users of, e.g., steel, which is among the products that will be taxed for coal use, also production in third countries will certainly soon fulfill US and European standards to avoid taxation.

This is a first step, which is hopefully followed by taxing all imports to Europe, which do not follow European environmental standards. Such measures will also affect companies having headquarters in Europe, as a lot of production has been relocated to areas with less strict environmental standards and lower wages. Such a change would be beneficial both to the third countries, as the environmental impacts of factories remaining there would be markedly reduced, and to the European countries, as some production would certainly return Europe because the costs in the “cheap countries” would increase towards European costs.

Kommentoi kirjoitusta. Avainsanat: climate change, environmental pollution, environmental economics

The times they are a-changin'

Maanantai 12.7.2021 klo 18:49 - Mikko Nikinmaa

A change is the most terrible thing that the human mind can envision. This is actually the reason, why climate actions are so difficult to carry out. Many if not most people think that we cannot accept changes to our way of life, since they would mean that things will become worse. Whenever questionnaires about climate attitudes are made, they show this resistance to change to be a problem even to the people making the questions. Generally, a question asked is: “Do you think you have been required to give up something because of climate actions?” This question as such indicates that change is negative, and the best thing would be if one could continue with the old ways. Instead, the question should be: “Do you envision that combatting climate change have or will require changes in your way of life?”

The times they are a-changin’. But the changes do not necessarily mean that the quality of life decreases, maybe it would improve; a little less hurry, a little less competition, a little more time to do whatever one wishes. Maybe we could use less resources, buy only one third of the clothes we buy today etc. This may sound socialistic, but it is difficult for me to see that some companies earn billions (in €, £ or $) yet out of those profits only 1-2 % is tax revenue, while at the same time a person earning 50000 pays often 30-40 % of the income in taxes. And both the income differences have increased and taxes of the rich generally decreased while those of the normal taxpayer have increased throughout rich countries. If one required the richest 1 % of population to spend 5 % of their yearly profits to climate actions and if 20 % of the world’s military spending was used to improve the quality of life of poor people, most present problems would be solved. The likelihood that military force would be required anywhere would be markedly reduced.

The times they are a-changin’. What was good in 1960’s is not appropriate now. We have the means to combat climate change and social inequality of people, but to do that a radical change in our attitudes is required.

Kommentoi kirjoitusta. Avainsanat: climate change, environmental economics

World Scientists' Warning on Climate Emergency

Torstai 1.8.2019 klo 10:38 - William J. Ripple et al.

This is not written by me, but the real writers wanted it to be shared as widely as possible

Mikko Nikinmaa

World Scientists’ Warning of a Climate Emergency (Condensed Version) 

William J. Ripple, Christopher Wolf, Thomas M. Newsome, xxxx scientist signatories from xxx countries 

We scientists have a moral obligation to clearly warn humanity of any great existential threat. In this paper, we present a suite of graphical vital signs of climate change over the last 40 years. Results show greenhouse gas emissions are still rising, with increasingly damaging effects. With few exceptions, we are largely failing to address this predicament. The climate crisis has arrived and is accelerating faster than many scientists expected. It is more severe than anticipated, threatening natural ecosystems and the fate of humanity. We suggest six critical and interrelated steps that governments and the rest of humanity can take to lessen the worst effects of climate change, covering 1) Energy, 2) Short-lived pollutants, 3) Nature, 4) Food, 5) Economy, and 6) Population. Mitigating and adapting to climate change entails transformations in the ways we govern, manage, feed, and fulfill material and energy requirements. We are encouraged by a recent global surge of concern. Governmental bodies are making climate emergency declarations. The Pope issued an encyclical on climate change. Schoolchildren are striking. Ecocide lawsuits are proceeding in the courts. Grassroots citizen movements are demanding change. As scientists, we urge widespread use of our vital signs and anticipate that graphical indicators will better allow policymakers and the public to understand the magnitude of this crisis, track progress, and realign priorities to alleviate climate change. The good news is that such transformative change, with social and ecological justice, promises greater human wellbeing in the long-run than business as usual. We believe that prospects will be greatest if policy makers and the rest of humanity promptly respond to our warning and declaration of a climate emergency, and act to sustain life on planet Earth, our only home.


William J. Ripple email:

Kommentoi kirjoitusta. Avainsanat: climate change, environmental economics, population growth

Voluntary actions in conservation - a dream or reality

Torstai 21.6.2018 klo 9:50 - Mikko Nikinmaa

In many cases it is said that environmental actions can be voluntary, that people themselves see if they are required or not. This is wishful thinking. Environmental actions are needed and can be done as long as it is other people doing them, no the persons themselves. Just as an example, a scientific conference of environmental scientists gave a possibility of paying a fee for the carbon footprint caused by travelling to the conference. The fee was at three different levels. Of the environmental scientists only approximately 40 % paid any fee at all, and virtually everyone who paid, paid only the lowest fee, although it was much less than can be estimated to be the environmental cost of travelling. And this was a group of environmental scientists!!!

If the general public is even less concerned about the environment, the noble principle that people voluntarily consider what their actions mean to the environment, and in case they cause deterioration of one aspect, other actions are done to remedy the damage (in another environmental dimension). Consequently, one can probably only get things done by environmental taxes and giving reliefs of them to people, who can demonstrate that they are carrying out environmentally beneficial actions. The taxes are needed, as otherwise people do not take the environment into account. However, probably more can be achieved by having incentives giving a financial benefit for good deeds to the environment.

In view of the above, I bow deep to the individuals who do important deeds to help the environment without expecting anything in return.

Kommentoi kirjoitusta. Avainsanat: environmental pollution, environmental economics, environmenral taxes