David Cameron last week renewed his promise to cut the U.K. government's carbon emissions by 10% in the next 12 months, and is now taking suggestions on how to achieve that. Here's a thought: How about cutting the central government itself by 10%? That's about the only way the new Prime Minister can simultaneously reduce government emissions and the cost of government.Agreed.
If, on the other hand, the government's plans for shrinking its emissions involve similar measures as its plans to "green" the private sector, Mr. Cameron might ask himself whether, with a budget deficit of 12% of GDP, he can afford this particular boondoggle.
It's fashionable to profess that "greening" the economy can be accomplished at no cost, so great are the benefits of efficiency gains and renewable energy. But the history of civilization, from start to finish, can be seen as one long drive to make more efficient use of available resources. If something can be done more efficiently, at least outside of the public sector, someone is probably already doing it. And if they're not, it's because the costs outweigh the benefits. This is for the simple reason that "greening" the private economy requires subsidies, or heavy-handed regulation, or both. But government can't subsidize itself, so Mr. Cameron's quest is certain to cost taxpayers more than they get back in the form of more-efficient government energy use.
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
From the May 19th Wall Street Journal: