Climage change is making its way back into the news and House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman John Dingell and Rep. Rick Boucher managed to do something that other global warming proposals have not: They’ve actually upset the environmental groups that have been clamoring for reductions on carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases in the first place.
Last week Dingell and Boucher released a climate change legislation discussion draft that, similar to past legislation, calls for enormous emissions reductions by 2050 but has
looser emissions limits in the earlier years of the program and a policy that puts the House bill in line with recommendations from the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, a group of businesses seeking to shape the legislation.”
This has environmental activists in an uproar. Fred Krupp, the president of Environmental Defense Fund, asserted that
The unbending science demands that we reduce global warming pollution far enough — and fast enough — to protect us from the worst consequences of climate change. The near-term targets and timetables in the current draft of the proposal fall far short of that goal.”
It’s clear that no matter how stringent a global warming policy would be, environmentalists will always push for a more stringent one. The draft legislation claims that loose emissions targets in earlier years will allow carbon-capturing technologies to develop. Others are saying that the financial crisis is leading to less-stringent targets in earlier years. As Yvo de Boer, the United Nations’ top climate official put it,
You can’t pick an empty pocket.”
Whether or not emissions reductions are more lenient in earlier years, it’s inevitable that any global warming legislation will reach deep into the American taxpayers’ pockets. A Heritage Foundation analysis of the Lieberman-Warner climate change bill to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, found that
• Cumulative gross domestic product (GDP) losses are at least $1.7 trillion and could reach $4.8 trillion by 2030 (in inflation-adjusted 2006 dollars).
• Single-year GDP losses hit at least $155 billion and realistically could exceed $500 billion (in inflation-adjusted 2006 dollars).
• Annual job losses exceed 500,000 before 2030 and could approach 1,000,000.
The science on global warming is anything but incontrovertible and while it’s almost certain that any legislation won’t be passed this year, but Dingell and Boucher’s draft discussion is setting the stage for next year. Both presidential candidates support implementing a costly cap-and-trade system. And as I’ve said before, it’s all for naught. Even according to the Environmental Protection Agency, a U.S. cap-and-trade system would have negligible effects on global temperature:
Analysis by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) shows that a 60 percent reduction in CO2 emissions by 2050 will reduce CO2 concentrations by only 25 ppm in 2095. This reduction would affect world temperatures by 0.1 to 0.2 degrees C. In other words it makes virtually no difference.”
Policymakers shouldn’t use the country’s economic woes as an excuse to hold off on global warming policy or loosen up targets in the initial stages their emissions reduction plans. Instead, they should simply recognize that it is bad policy and it shouldn’t be implemented at all.