Bjorn Lomborg Misreads Climate Change Economics in Washington Post Op-Ed

by Frank Ackerman | January 19, 2010

Bjorn Lomborg has seen the future of climate policy, and it doesn’t work. In his opinion, featured Friday in the Washington Post, a binding treaty to reduce carbon emissions – the goal that was pursued unsuccessfully at the Copenhagen conference in December – would have done more harm than good. Reducing emissions enough to stabilize the temperature would have astronomical costs, according to Lomborg, while the benefits would be small.

This is par for the course for Lomborg, a Danish political scientist who has gained international notoriety for his repeated attacks on environmental protection. His source for his climate policy skepticism is a very selective reading of economics, described grandly and inaccurately as what all economists think. For instance, do “all the major climate economic models” agree on a specific, extreme forecast of carbon taxes, as asserted by Lomborg? Not a chance; major models tend to disagree somewhat about such forecasts, and there is no consensus around anything like Lomborg’s claim. Do “most mainstream calculations” agree that global climate damages will be less than $1 trillion per year (a fraction of one percent of global output) by the end of the century, as he also alleges? Again, not even close.

The most widely discussed recent economic analysis of climate change, the Stern Review, reached conclusions opposite to Lomborg’s. Modest expenditures on emission reductions, according to Nicholas Stern, would prevent enormous climate damages. It is difficult to describe Stern, ...

WashPost Prints Lomborg

by Ben Somberg | September 28, 2009
This just in: trying to stop climate change will cost the world about $50 trillion a year, but the impacts of climate change will only cost about $1 trillion a year, so the choice is clear! That's the thesis of Bjorn Lomborg's op-ed in Monday's Washington Post. Presumably the flooding of much of Bangladesh doesn't count for much, since those lives are totally worth less than ours, etc. Update: For more on this, see Joe Romm and Miles Grant. ...

Lomborg Plays Economist-as-Philosopher-King on Climate Change

by Douglas Kysar | September 05, 2009
Prominent environmental commentator Bjorn Lomborg is at it again, this time convening a blue ribbon panel of five economists to assess the relative merits of different possible methods for addressing climate change.  As reported by Reuters Friday morning, Lomborg's panel concluded that "'climate engineering' projects, such as spraying seawater into the sky to dim sunlight, would be a more effective brake on global warming than increasing taxes on energy."  In a blog entry, The Wall Street Journal added that the ...

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