“Green” cars may all be the rage at the Detroit motor show, but Chrysler’s chief economist Van Jolissaint has launched a fierce attack on “quasi-hysterical Europeans” and their “Chicken Little” attitudes to climate change.

Mr Jolissaint was speaking at a private breakfast where the chief economists of the “Big Three” US car firms presented their forecasts for auto industry sales this year.

Mr Jolissant, who was recently appointed the chief economist for the German-US DaimlerChrysler Group, said he was shocked by the absurdity of “quasi-hysterical” policies that smacked of “Chicken Little” politics.

In response to a question from the floor, he said that global warming was a far-off risk whose magnitude was uncertain. Mr Jolissaint was particularly scathing about the Stern Report, which was recently published by the UK government.

Mr Jolissaint said the report was based on dubious economics, did not include a discount rate, and was written by an informal adviser to Gordon Brown – in fact, at the time of the report, Mr Stern was the Second Permanent Secretary at the UK Treasury.

So the dinosaurs are still grazing then….

One Comment

  • Here is the exact transcript of what he said. It is baffling how far this is from the headlines and reaction. Read it carefully. Read the part about who describes the position of some European’s as “quasi-hysterical”.

    One could say that the reactions are “quasi-hysterical”.

    Question: The mild winter in the Northeast and the Midwest appears to have raised the awareness of global warming in the United States. The automakers depend upon light-duty trucks. What effect do you anticipate from the this [inaudible] we’re in. In general, talk about the political environment you’ve encountered here.


    Van Jolissaint:
    I have the honor to work for a company that is co-located in Europe and the United States.

    And the experience of living and working with German colleagues and other professionals in Europe has certainly made me aware that the rest of the world views the threat of global warming with much more alarm than we do.

    It’s difficult for me to describe, because I personally think we take a certain amount of [inaudible]. We think the problem is way, way in the future, with a high degree of uncertainty.

    And what you do is buy insurance. And insurance tends to be for intended small, incremental increases in energy prices or important [inaudible] some of the proceeds of that revenue in future development and you devote resources to defeat problems that are big problems today, rather than uncertain problems in the future.

    But we should do something. We should do something today, we should do more tomorrow.

    Europe seems to take a political position that some people might describe, not me of course, that some people might describe as quasi-hysterical, that the sky is falling. That you have to dramatically change the way that we organize society today and forever. And that view, I think, is probably best said by the contents of the Stern report that was released this fall by the former [inaudible] advisor to the government of Britain. And he, the former government official, he was former chief counsel [inaudible].

    And he, it was a very thorough and a very political document [passage indistinct].

    But it’s about politics. And a lot of people believe [inaudible] that global climate change [inaudible] problem. There is more evidence that suggests that it is occurring and it’s something that government and society need to deal with.

    We think they should deal with it in a step-by-step, rational way and not play much Chicken Little.

    But again, we are, you know, not everything that we’ve ever seen in research suggests, for instance, that small general taxes or price increases is the best way to deal with uncertain events like climate change.

    In other words, [inaudible] tax, gas tax, small today, rising tomorrow, and then things like [the US fuel economy standard] CAFE or fuel economy or fuel efficiency standards for electrical efficiency standards for appliances have welfare losses for the general public, potentially in the order of magnitude higher than step-by-step general policies [inaudible].

    So it is probably fair to say that climate change is going to be on the agenda globally and on the agenda in the United States for a long, long, long time.

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