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[经济学人] [2007.6.1]Irrational incandescence

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发表于 2010-4-29 00:17 | 显示全部楼层 |阅读模式
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Irrational incandescence


白炽灯,并非明智之选



People can't be bothered to make easy energy savings


想说节能不容易



SOME ways of cutting carbon are cheaper than others. So, at different carbon prices, different sorts of methods of abatement become worthwhile. Vattenfall, a Swedish power utility, has tried to quantify which ones would be worth undertaking at what price.



减少碳排放的方法不同,其成本也不同。因此,对于不同的排碳价格,我们要考虑不同的减排措施,以使减排的成本低于排放的成本。一家瑞典电力企业Vattenfall,已经开始量化研究各种排放成本下采取何种减排措施。



The result is a testament to economic irrationality. The measures below the horizontal line have a negative abatement cost—in other words, by carrying them out, people and companies could both cut emissions and save money. At a macroeconomic level they would boost, rather than reduce, economic growth.



研究结果证实了人们在经济方面的不理性。对于水平线以下的减排措施,其成本为负。也就是说,采取这些措施后,企业、家庭既减少了排放,又省了钱。从宏观角度来看,这不仅不会放缓经济增长,还会刺激经济增长。



Lighting, for instance, accounts for some 19% of the world's electricity use. A standard incandescent light bulb costs around EURO1, says Theo van Deursen, chief executive of Philips Lighting, and uses EURO15-worth of electricity a year. A low-energy one costs EURO5-6 and uses EURO3-worth. The payback on investing in a compact fluorescent bulb, therefore, is less than a year. Yet low-energy lighting makes up only 30% of Philips's sales. Mr van Deursen admits to being disappointed. Sales are rising faster in the developing world: there, people pay more attention to electricity bills than they do in the rich world.



举例来说,照明用电占世界用电量的19%。飞利浦灯具公司的高管Theo van Deursen说,一个普通的照明白炽灯泡值一欧元,一年用的电值15欧元。而一个值5-6欧元的节能灯的年耗电值3欧元。投资一个节能灯,一年就可以收回成本。然而,节能灯的销量之占飞利浦总销量的30%van Deursen坦言,这一结果令人失望。发展中国家的销量增长更快一些:发展中国家的人们比富裕国家的人更在意用电帐单。



Economists trying to explain this apparent irrationality suggest that the savings are too small and the effort involved in change too large. People find their electricity bills too boring to think about; within companies, those responsible for keeping bills down may not have the authority to spend the necessary capital. Another explanation is the agency problem[注二]: that the developer who would have to pay higher capital costs up front will not be forking out for the electricity bills. Besides, people buy houses not because they have good insulation but because they have pretty views.



经济学家试图解释这一明显的不理性行为。他们说,比起换灯所花的精力,省下来的钱太微不足道了。人们懒得看用电帐单;在公司里,负责降低成本的人员没有投资买灯的职权。另一个解释是“代理问题”:公司的管理层现在增加了支出,省的钱也到不了他们手里。而且,人们买房子的时候看中的是环境,而不是保温性。



Compared with pursuing greater energy efficiency, the abatement measures into which so much money is now being poured look rather expensive. Carbon capture and storage[注一] and wind and solar power, for instance, all have positive, and relatively high, abatement costs.



比起我们追求的更高的能源效率,现在大量砸钱的减排措施看起来是太昂贵了。比如,采用碳捕获和存储技术,风能,太阳能等减排措施的成本就是正的,而且还很高。



But the cheapest sources of abatement are difficult for policymakers to get at. Billions of different actors are involved. They cannot be targeted in the way that a few hundred factories can. What is more, a moderate carbon price is not likely to be effective, since people clearly do not care enough about cost.



但是,对政策制定者来说,即使推行成本最低的减排措施也不容易。太多人的利益牵扯其中。仅仅几百个工厂推行也没有多大意义。而且,适度的排放成本也起不了多大作用,人们对此不会太在意。



One policy option is to decouple the utilities' revenues from the amount of electricity they sell. That gives them an incentive to increase the efficiency of power usage rather than to produce and sell extra power. California is already doing this, which is presumably why electricity prices there are among the highest in America, while consumption is relatively low.



一个政策选择就是让电力企业的收入和售电量脱钩。这就会促使他们提高能源利用效率,而不是让他们竭力多产多销。加州已经这么做了,这也可能会解释为什么那里的电价全美最高,而用量相对较低。



Energy-efficiency standards, such as building regulations, are another option. Economists generally prefer to avoid rules that specify what companies can produce and how, because they require governments, rather than markets, to allocate resources, and markets tend to do a better job. But if, as in this case, a public as well as a private good is involved, and the market does not seem to be doing its job properly, there is an argument for governments giving it a nudge.



制定诸如建筑节能规定等能源效率的标准,是另一个政策选择。总体来看,经济学家不喜欢各种对企业指手画脚的规定。因为他们希望市场来分配资源,而不是政府。而且市场更能胜任这项工作。但是,就像我们这里所看到的,如果一项对公共福利和私人福利都有益的工作,市场却不能推动,那就有让政府担当推手的必要了。



There are lots of energy-efficiency regulations in place already, and they are being tightened. Incandescent light bulbs are the top target at the moment. Both the European Union and Australia said earlier this year that they are planning to ban them. But the man in the vanguard of this green revolution is Fidel Castro, who started phasing them out two years ago.



人们已经实施了很多能源效率的规定,并且力度在不断加大。眼下,白炽灯是首要限制目标。今年早些时候,欧盟和澳大利亚都说他们要禁止使用白炽灯。但是这场绿色革命的先行者却是古巴的卡斯特罗,2年前他已经下令停用白炽灯了。





注一:近十多年来,气候变化问题已被列为全球环境问题之首,并且日益成为国际社会关注的热门话题.其重要的焦点就是如何控制温室气体的浓度稳定在防止气候系统受到危险的人为干扰的水平上.为此,国际上提出了许多新观点和新技术以达到上述目标.其中的碳捕获和存储就是一项关注于研究和开发CO2的分离、捕获、运输和存储的技术方法.分析了碳捕获和存储所涉及的科学和方法学问题,包括概念、技术流程、技术潜力以及涵盖的环境、经济和社会因素.在此基础上,分析评价了其对我国能源和经济的影响.最后提出了我国今后在开展碳捕获和存储研究、能力建设等方面的建议


注二:代理问题的产生是由于公司管理层与公司股东两者的利益是不一致的。由于管理层只有公司的小部分所有权,使得管理层会偏向于非现金的额外支出,如豪华办公室、专用汽车等,而这些支出则由公司其他所有者共同负担。这种情形在大公司更为严重,由于所有权更为分散,对于个人股东更缺乏动力花费成本以监控管理者,即使监控管理者,所费资源仍属于代理成本。所以代理成本可以扩大为以下范围:(1)所有人与代理人的签约成本;(2)监督与控制代理人的成本;(3)限定代理人执行最佳决策成本或执行次佳决策所需的额外成本;(4)剩余利润的损失。
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