Guest post: carbon taxes and the NZ economy

We don’t talk about climate change on TransportBlog that often, although we should – transport is a big contributor to emissions, and the most obvious opportunity for NZ to reduce its emissions. But most economists would agree that the best starting point for tackling emissions is to price them properly, so people and businesses are incentivised to change their behaviour.…
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Mid-week reading: California uber alles, road tolls, apartment design, and election reviews

I’m back to a mostly normal post-writing schedule, but mid-week reading will continue as an intermittent feature. One of the most interesting things I’ve read recently was Jim Newton’s long interview with California Governor Jerry Brown (in UCLA Blueprint). Brown served two terms as governor in the 1970s and 80s, left politics for a while, and ultimately returned to serve another two terms as governor.…
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Building a better city: Policies and perspectives (part 1 of 2)

This is the first half of a two-part series of posts. It summarises a few ideas that have been banging around the back of my head for a while – basically, an attempt to answer the question: “What can economics do for cities?” In this part, I discuss a couple of important concepts: agglomeration economies, which underpin cities’ existence and ongoing success, and the potential role of pricing mechanisms for managing urban ills.…
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Twiddling thumbs on climate change

Under the National government, being the Climate Change Issues Minister must be the easiest job in the world. Sure, Tim Groser does also have the more demanding role of Trade, but if I had to guess the number of hours each week he spends thinking “what can I do to help New Zealand reduce its emissions?” I’d guess the answer is pretty close to zero.…
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Energy, transport and efficiency

Last year, the National Energy Research Institute (NERI) kindly gave us a free ticket to attend the NERI Energy Conference 2014. There were plenty of relevant topics to what we discuss here on the blog, including a great presentation from Mike Underhill, the head of EECA (that’s the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority, a government agency).…
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Climate change and New Zealand cities

Environmentalists sometimes have an uneasy relationship with cities. Because they concentrate a lot of people and economic activity in relatively small places, they also concentrate a lot of negative environmental effects. All that concrete, all that energy being consumed, the kilometres of malls and highways and subdivisions!…
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Dr Sean Simpson from Lanzatech

On 8th October, Dr Sean Simpson from Lanzatech will be speaking at the University of Auckland, on the subject of “Climate-friendly fuel: A challenge of scale and time”.  This is part of the Energy Centre’s Energy Matters lecture series. Sean is a great speaker – I saw him give a keynote address at the Energy Conference back in March – so I’d strongly recommend coming along if you’re interested in these issues, or even just if you’re into science or commercialising new technologies.…
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Anyone remember global warming?

As an economist, I get a bit annoyed about inefficient spending (which the Roads of National Significance are), and frustrated at the lack of economic thinking that goes into party policies (all political parties come out badly here – e.g. Labour’s Working For Families seriously messed up marginal tax rates and incentives to work more for mid-income earners).…
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