This past summer when the Senate debated the Lieberman-Warner cap and trade plan, conservatives (and libertarians) were alone in fighting to expose the lie that cap and trade is anything other than a massive energy tax that can only harm our economy. Now, more and more on the left are wising up and taking a more honest approach. Yesterday in the Wall Street Journal, Ralph Nader and Toby Heaps wrote:
Cap-and-traders assume, without much justification, that one country can put a price on carbon emissions while another doesn’t without affecting trade or investment decisions. This is a bad assumption, given false comfort by the Montreal Protocol treaty, which took this approach to successfully rein in ozone-depleting gases. Chlorofluorocarbons are not pervasive like greenhouse gases (GHGs); nor was the economy of 1987 hyperglobalized like ours today.
Good intentions to limit big polluters in some countries but not others will turn any meaningful cap into Swiss cheese. It can be avoided by relocating existing and new production of various kinds of CO2-emitting industries to jurisdictions with no or virtually no limits. This is known as carbon leakage, and it leads to trade anarchy.
How? The most advanced piece of climate legislation at the moment, the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act, contains provisions for retaliatory action to be taken against imports from carbon free-riding nations. Married with the current economic malaise, the temptation to slide into a righteous but runaway environmental protectionism — which Washington’s K Street lobbyists would be only too happy to grease — would almost certainly lead to a collapse of the multilateral trading system.
Even global warming icon James Hansen has joined the cap and trade truth bandwagon. In his letter to Obama, Hansen writes:
A tax should be called a tax. The public can understand this and will accept a tax if it is clearly explained and if 100 percent of the money is returned to the public. Not one dime should go to Washington for politicians to pick winners. No lobbyists need be employed.
Beware of alternative approaches, such as ‘percent emission reduction goals’ and ‘cap and trade’. These are subterfuges designed to allow business-as-usual to continue, under a pretense of action, a greenwashing. Hordes of lobbyists will argue for these approaches, which assure their continued employment. The ineffectiveness of ‘goals’ and ‘caps’ is made blatantly obvious by the fact that the countries promoting them are planning to build more coal-fired power plants.