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Taxonomy without representation

02 Feb 2022 | OP ED Watch

The Economist, whose raison d’être seems to be to couch radical ideas in sober language, has found the problem with European energy policy. They haven’t done enough to squash fossil fuels. D’oh. When you’re in a hole, dig harder. “Investors’ enthusiasm for financing the green transition is growing”, from Tesla to “catl, China’s battery giant”. But “if you look more closely, you will find huge problems.” Yeah. We could have told you that one. “If the world is to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, investment will need to more than double, to $5trn a year. And fund management is rife with ‘green-washing’.” So send in the bureaucrats. “To the rescue has come the European Union, which has devised a new labelling system, or taxonomy”, to impose complex terminology on everyday life and central planning as well; it “sorts the economy into activities it deems environmentally sustainable” and government is never wrong about that sort of thing.

Oh, except for one issue. “The plan’s flaws lie in its bureaucratic outlook…. The classification is static” while markets are dynamic and “It fits a pattern of European climate-finance ideas that are well-meaning but marginal”. So, EU to the rescue of EU. “The EU’s broader aim should be to use carbon pricing to alter how capital is allocated.” Currently “investors do not have a clear incentive to be green” because, um, that fabled technology isn’t actually profitable. No worries. We will all prosper as soon as they make existing technology unprofitable as well. As Eric Worrall puts it, “The EU already has a record high carbon price of around €70 (USD $80) / ton. Clearly The Economist thinks more pain is required.”

There’s the Green New Deal in a nutshell: we need government to be just like it is except flexible, efficient and smart, and “more pain is required” until we start mistaking it for pleasure.

Meanwhile the Telegraph reports that “2.5 million households can't pay their bills as cost of living crisis worsens”. Mind you the UK was foolish enough to leave the EU to the horror of the Establishment including The Economist without, apparently, getting a more sensible energy policy. And with the EU desperate for evil American fracked natural gas as Russia tightens the screws over Ukraine and policies like Germany’s Energiewende have the lights flickering and the bills roaring, including electricity prices quadrupling over two years with predictably disastrous effects on people and firms, well, the voice of well-bred radicalism asks scornfully “Evacuate in our moment of triumph?

P.S. The Economist’s climate newsletter doesn’t just offer “Our expert local lens on a global emergency”. Emergency. It gives “an informed and balanced perspective” on one side of it. And “gives you the flexibility to curate your own experience to reflect your interests and meet your needs”. Unless you need people to stop using the pompous term curate and instead of letting us pick and choose our facts, they tell us what they think we need to know.

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