What would the Bank of England do if new housing were cheap? | Brussels Blog

What would the Bank of England do if new housing were cheap?

posted by on 11th Jun 2019

A few years ago I asked Andy Haldane, the Chief Economist at the Bank of England what would happen if there were to be an increased supply of cheap housing. He kindly replied

If additional housing supply was to cause sharp declines in house prices, this might raise concerns about the adequacy of mortgage lenders’ capital positions and hence raise financial stability concerns. Some insurance against this risk is provided by banks’ own credit risk model calibrations and regulatory stress which consider severe levels of stress in the housing market, both of which are used to set banks’ level of capital.

We intend to conduct a further, housing market related stress test of UK banks later this year.

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Topics for enhanced town planning: #1 to #5

posted by on 27th May 2019

We must find new ways of living: New pleasant ways of living that do not destroy Planet A.

This requires a new form of town planning. Today’s town planning may be a starting point but a new, wider discipline is needed to make radical changes to the way we live. The idea was outlined in an earlier post, Enhanced Town Planning

Here are the first five topics for the new discipline. More topics: Topics for enhanced town planning: #6 to #10


#1 A reference target for personal remaining carbon budget: 64 tonnes CO2e

A remaining carbon budget is the quantity of greenhouse gases that can be emitted before a global climate disaster occurs. This note estimates a reference budget: a quantity of emissions to be used as an indicator of the success or failure of the global climate policies.

If we keep within this budget, we are doing well: Exceed it and we are doing badly.

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Open letter to the Committee on Climate Change

posted by on 29th Apr 2019

Dear Committee Member,

I believe that the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) is beginning to take climate change more seriously than hitherto. I look forward to your upcoming report.

I have welcomed the work of the committee in commissioning estimates of the UK’s carbon emissions on a consumption basis. This is the correct measure for evaluating climate policy.

Estimating carbon emissions on a territorial or production basis is misleading. This measure ignores emissions from shipping, aviation and imports. The claim that the UK is a ‘climate leader’ cannot honestly be made on the basis of production emissions: Shut a steel works and replace the steel with imports makes territorial emissions lower but will likely increases global emissions.

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Free the Committee on Climate Change

posted by on 28th Apr 2019

A note for the Committee on Climate Change

I intended to respond to the Zero carbon economy: Call for Evidence from the UK Committee on Climate Change (CCC) but after a few weeks of being bedridden (nothing life-threatening), I missed the 7th December deadline. Having worked on preparation that I did not want to waste I have written this note.


  • The Climate Change Act (2008) measures greenhouse gas emissions incorrectly.
  • This shows UK emissions falling sharply but ignores aviation, shipping and imports.
  • UK emissions, measured properly, are falling far too slowly.
  • Per person UK greenhouse gas emissions are nearly twice the global average.

  • To keep the global temperature rise to less than 1.5°C, there is a limit to global emissions – the remaining carbon budget.
  • At the current rate, global emissions will exhaust this budget in 12.7 years.
  • Unless emissions from production can be reduced quickly, consumption must be reduced.
  • That means #degrowth.

  • Most greenhouse gas emissions are caused by the affluent.
  • To save the climate, the affluent must consume less.
  • We need to find pleasant lifestyles that are climate friendly, which can attract world wide support.
  • A new disciplineis necessary … enhanced town planning.

  • The UK government’s climate brief has passed from an environmental department, DEFRA, to a business department, the Department of Business, Energy and Information Services BEIS.
  • BEIS is not serious about climate, promoting economic growth and fracking.
  • BEIS is the sponsoring department of the CCC.
  • The CCC must be freed from its sponsoring department, BEIS.

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The Institute of Enhanced Town Planning

posted by on 10th Apr 2019

See also:

The road to Hell

I have reluctantly got used to the terms “existential crisis” and “dystopia”. Also, I remember the embarrassment from Kenneth Tynan saying the F-word on TV in 1965 but describing the state we’re in needs more than polysyllabic words. So …

We’re fucked
We’ve fucked the planet
We live crap lives.

If there’s hope, it’s that our crap lives could be less crap: happier and less polluting.

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Climate destruction 2: Rowntree policy

posted by on 7th Apr 2019
Poverty with low carbon living

Summary from Part 1

  • Consumption causes greenhouse gas emissions
  • Greenhouse gas emissions cause climate change
  • Climate change means consumption must be reduced
  • The affluent consume far more than the poor
  • The affluent must reduce their enormous consumption
  • The poor should be supported

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation ‘solving UK poverty’

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Climate destruction 1: Economic Growth

posted by on 5th Apr 2019

It may be presumptuous to comment on anything Greta Thunberg says but here she gives an excellent example of how the affluent are destroying the climate – even the more well-meaning ones.

It beats the boring numbers below. I have struggled to make what follows both simple and clear so first here is a summary:

  • Consumption causes greenhouse gas emissions
  • Greenhouse gas emissions cause climate change
  • Climate change means consumption must be reduced
  • The affluent consume far more than the poor
  • The affluent must reduce their enormous consumption
  • The poor should be supported

There is an appendix on worries about the state of climate science.

The details follow…

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York Central: Open letter to City of York Councillors

posted by on 23rd Mar 2019

The floods in Mozambique are another call to wake us to the destruction of climate change.

The Pollution Tax Association, a small group of York residents, worried about similar floods in 2000, saying in a press release:

The York Branch of the Pollution Tax Association today donated £750 to the Oxfam Mozambique Appeal Fund.

“The human and environmental catastrophe in Mozambique is a result of climate change caused by pollution” said the Chair of the Pollution Tax Association. “We in the west need to give careful thought as to how we can reduce environmental pollution. Local actions, such as using your car when you don’t need to, have global consequences”.

At the time the link between climate change and the floods was considered speculative. Now Channel 4’s report points to a clearer link with climate change:

Climate scientists have been warning the world for decades that manmade climate change would do two things it would mean that hurricanes and cyclones will become more and more intense and that therefore some of the people with the world’s smallest carbon footprints would pay the heaviest price.

The key point in my objection is that the proposed York Central development would be responsible for substantial emissions of greenhouse gasses, which may not been properly assessed.

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York Central: A climate disaster

posted by on 13th Mar 2019

York Central is a climate disaster

UN Secretary General warns on Climate Change

The climate crisis

In September 2018, the Secretary General of the United Nations, António Guterres, delivered a warning:

Dear friends of planet Earth,

Thank you for coming to the UN Headquarters today.

I have asked you here to sound the alarm.

Climate change is the defining issue of our time – and we are at a defining moment.

We face a direct existential threat.

Climate change is moving faster than we are – and its speed has provoked a sonic boom SOS across our world.

If we do not change course by 2020, we risk missing the point where we can avoid runaway climate change, with disastrous consequences for people and all the natural systems that sustain us.

As the Secretary General said

“We face a direct existential threat”.

Developments like that proposed for York Central increase this threat and as such are probably illegal.

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Carbon emissions in the lifetimes of cars

posted by on 11th Mar 2019

This is a note about the carbon emissions from new cars during their lifetimes and the relationship with the remaining carbon budget.

The remaining carbon budget

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