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We are told, breathlessly and repeatedly, in The Guardian, that Bjorn Lomborg has recanted and is now fully on board with the “OMG we’re all gonna die!” wing of the environmental movement over climate change.

Oh Aye? From his first book, The Skeptical Environmentalist:

I shall argue further that an economic analysis of the costs and benefits of an immediate reduction in CO2 emissions clearly shows that the world as a whole would benefit more from investing in tackling problems of poverty in the developing world and in research and development of renewable energy than in policies focussed on climate change.

From todays’ revelations:

Examining eight methods to reduce or stop global warming, Lomborg and his fellow economists recommend pouring money into researching and developing clean energy sources such as wind, wave, solar and nuclear power, and more work on climate engineering ideas such as “cloud whitening” to reflect the sun’s heat back into the outer atmosphere.

My, that is a real backtrack, isn’t it?

Back to that first book, he uses the Willam Nordhaus DICE and RICE models to argue that the damage done by CO2 emissions is $7.50 per tonne. Applying both the Nordhaus and Stern Review view that damages should be covered by a Pigou tax he is now stating that:

He suggests this could be funded by a $7-a-tonne tax on carbon emissions, which he says would raise $250bn a year.

The tax is at the level of damage being done: this is hardly a change now is it?

Oh, and Lomborg makes, repeatedly, the point that renewables, most especially solar, are coming down in price and that (in his estimate) by mid this century will be properly price competitive. So much so that we’ll naturally switch to using solar PV. We might build a large solar power station in the Sahara for example. Oh, we are, aren’t we? Or solar panels might be installed upon houses because by that mid-century it’ll be cheaper than taking fossil fuel generated electricity from the grid.

Oh, lookee here. Jeremey Leggett says that it will happen by 2013:

Monbiot bets me £100 that my prediction that solar PV electricity in homes will be no more pricey in 2013 than conventional electricity will be wrong.

So, it looks like Lomborg hasn’t in fact gone through some Damascene conversion, rather, he’s making the same points he’s always made. That climate change is happening, that we’re causing it and that the economics of the whole shebang tell us that we should be trying to reduce the cost of low and non carbon power generation to deal with it.

His only really major failing seems to be that he was too pessimistic about how quickly technology would advance.

Ho hum.

Adam Smith Institute, 31 August 2010

Editor’s Note: There’s just a tiny problem with all these beautiful ideas: Desertec Planners Concerned About SubsidiesThe planners of the Desertec solar project, which hopes to supply 15% of Europe’s power by 2050, are concerned about not getting enough subsidies for their projects, the director of the Desertec Industrial Initiative GmbH told Dow Jones Newswires Monday. Boom Times Over in Europe for Solar Energy – Promoting solar energy is a hobby horse in Germany. By the end of 2011, the federal government will have invested €120 billion in numerous solar projects – in a country where the sun doesn’t shine enough to generate electricity efficiently.