Thankfully it doesn’t happen that often. You find a tweet that seems to be specifically designed just to totally piss you off. Like someone knew you were having a good day and decided to puncture it. Thanks Robert Peston.
There is a risk for sure. But it is not from losing a few billion in tax.
There are three issues in this one tweet. Which I will take in turn.
First is Robert’s role as a huge figure in the UK mainstream media and should allow him to rise above “cut and paste” reporting. There is no attempt to add any context or narrative to the tweet. It is not part of a thread. It is “here is what the UK Govt is saying” We need more from our high profile commentators especially as we address a climate crisis.
Secondly, Robert like most people, is aware of the unanimous agreement of climate scientists that decarbonization is absolutely essential if we are to keep the global average temperature to well under 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels. You would hope that this would provide some context for the tweet.
There is a risk, a risk that we don’t decarbonize and we kill the planet. The idea that the UK Government is in any way looking at the risk from losing tax compared to the existential threat to the planet sends a cold chill down my spine.
Thirdly, we have the idea that if we lose tax revenue from burning fossil fuels we won’t be able to pay for anything. This breaks down into two parts.
The Government will lose tax revenue through decarbonisation but it will gain tax revenue from removing the harmful effects of fossil fuels on the environment and on health. Less money spent cleaning up shorelines and rivers. Less money spent on treating people with asthma. That chart should really look at the “net” tax not just one side of the equation.
But climate deniers rarely look at the benefits it is all about the costs as beautifully explained by Ben Franta in episode thirteen: Big Oil: Delay and Denial.
And of course, as regular viewers of the show will know, we don’t need tax to pay for things as the Government creates all the money it needs to pay for stuff.
If the Government wants to replace the “lost” tax revenue it simply writes itself a cheque that it never needs to pay back. The need for a sovereign government to have a balanced budget is a myth.
There is no one at the Treasury waiting for your tax to come into their bank account before it can pay a teacher. The Government decides what and how much to spend on things.
The reason Governments don’t want a fiscal deficit is about power. If the Government spends money on your behalf then you don’t have to earn that money. This kind of undermines the power they and the rest of the establishment have. So they use austerity measures to keep you toiling.
If only some of this was covered in Mr Peston’s tweet.