Governments and Climate Change Issues: The case for rethinking

David Henderson

Published: June 2007

Governments, and in particular the governments of the OECD member countries, are mishandling climate change issues. Both the basis and the content of official policies are open to serious question. Too much reliance is placed on the established process of review and inquiry which is conducted through the agency of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. This process, which is wrongly taken to be objective and authoritative, has been made the point of departure for over-presumptive conclusions which are biased towards alarm, in the mistaken belief that ‘the science’ is ‘settled’. Rather than pursuing as a matter of urgency ambitious and costly targets for drastic further curbing of CO2 emissions, governments should take prompt steps to ensure that they and their citizens are more fully and more objectively informed and advised. This implies both improving the IPCC process and going beyond it. As to the content of policy, it is not the case that the choice now lies between two extremes, of no action and the immediate adoption of much stronger measures to curb emissions. The orientation of policies should be made more evolutionary and less presumptive, with actual policy measures focusing more on carbon taxes rather than the present and prospective array of costly and intrusive regulatory initiatives.

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