Reduce, reuse, recycle. While the Turnbull government has scrapped plans for Bjorn Lomborg’s $4 million Australian Consensus Centre , the controversial “sceptical environmentalist” still gets a regular run in The Australian. This weekend Lomborg used an op-ed in the paper to argue that like the 20 COP meetings before it, next month’s Paris conference would be unlikely to render any specific outcomes for the environment. Twitter user Ketan Joshi picked up that while Lomborg is arguing against trying the same methods for fighting climate change, he used the same methods to argue his point as he used this time last year — reusing slabs of a piece he wrote in Canada’s The Globe and Mail in December last year, in which he argued that last year’s UN Climate Summit in Lima “achieved little”. In the first piece, Lomborg writes:
“The UN Climate Summit in Lima achieved little, just like the previous meetings for more than 20 years. As the saying goes, ‘insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.””
And in the Oz over the weekend:
“This is the conundrum: we know climate change is a problem, but we sadly keep trying to solve it with a solution that has failed repeatedly. As the saying goes, ‘insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result”.”
In the Globe and Mail:
“An excellent illustration of the way progress occurs is the development of computers since the 1950s. We did not develop computers by subsidizing and mass producing vacuum tubes in the 1950s. We did not provide massive subsidies so all westerners could have a humongous computer in their basements by 1960. We also did not tax alternatives, such as typewriters. The development came singularly from a massive investment in R&D, lead by the space race, which led to transistors, integrated circuits, hard disks and all the other breakthroughs innovations that made it possible for companies like IBM and Apple to produce computers that the consumer actually wants to buy.”
In the Oz:
“A lesson on innovation can be found in the computer. We did not obtain the computers of today by mass producing them in the 1950s to get cheaper vacuum tubes.
We did not provide heavy subsidies so that every Westerner could have one in their home in 1960. Nor did we tax alternatives such as typewriters.
The breakthroughs were achieved by a dramatic ramping up of research and development, leading to multiple innovations, which enabled companies such as IBM and Apple eventually to produce computers that consumers wanted to buy.”
In the Globe and Mail:
“A German parliamentary commission has analyzed the effects of Germany’s large green venture, the so-called Energiewende. The commission unambiguously concluded that the subsidies do not create green innovation, because it is much safer for companies to keep relying on heavily subsidized wind turbines, solar panels, and biomass instead of further developing existing technologies and develop new, viable alternatives to fossil fuels.The subsidies simply create the wrong incentives, and the commission “found no positive correlation between subsidization and innovation in any technology sector.”
“However, a German parliamentary commission looked into the question and unambiguously concluded that the subsidies did not create green innovation because it was much safer for companies to keep relying on heavily subsidised wind turbines, solar panels and biomass instead of further developing existing technologies and develop new, viable alternatives to fossil fuels.
The subsidies simply create the wrong incentives and the commission concluded they “have failed to reveal significant positive innovation impacts”. Subsidised deployment is clearly not the way to create the needed innovation.”
We contacted Lomborg for comment, but didn’t hear back by deadline.