The Heritage Foundation’s Steven Groves and Ben Lieberman are live at the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference reporting from a conservative perspective. Follow their reports on The Foundry and at the Copenhagen Consequences Web site.
It is hard to do any more wrong by the American people than cap and trade. Whether done by domestic legislation or international treaty, significant reductions in carbon dioxide emissions (like the 17 percent by 2020 and 83 percent by 2050 in the House Waxman Markey bill which the Obama administration had hoped to match at Copenhagen or get done at a subsequent UN global warming treaty conference) would raise gasoline prices by 58 percent by 2035, electric rates by 90 percent, impose nearly $3,000 in total annual costs on a household of 4, and destroy over one million jobs. Little wonder such measures are stalled in the Senate and are highly unlikely to be done by the Friday end of the climate conference (where in any event they would fail to get the required two thirds vote for Senate ratification). But Secretary of State Hilary Clinton is certainly trying to make a bad deal worse by pledging America’s support for a massive foreign aid package in the name of helping developing nations address global warming.
How much she expects the U.S. taxpayer to contribute to the $100 billion annual fund was not clear, but it could well be more than the $26 billion America spends on foreign aid each year. There are plenty of issues with past foreign aid programs. In many cases only a fraction of the funds were well spent, and aid can encourage the perpetuation of the very reasons (and regimes) that gave rise to the need for assistance in the first place. Foreign aid doled out to fight global warming has another big drawback – the problem it addresses is an overstated one.
By making such pledges in Denmark, the Obama administration is making the same mistake Bill Clinton and Al Gore did in 1997 – promising abroad what it can’t deliver at home. Gore signed the Kyoto Protocol, the existing global warming treaty whose expiring provisions were supposed to be extended at Copenhagen, knowing full well that the Senate would never ratify it. Now, this administration is making foreign aid promises in Copenhagen that it can’t deliver in Washington. It is hard to imagine the Congress signing off on such a massive aid package, especially given the still lingering recession and growing public doubts about global warming.
Either by legislation or international treaty, cap and trade is looking less likely because it is such a bad deal for the American people. But subjecting the American people to cap and trade while also putting them on the hook for massive payouts to foreign nations ought to really be a nonstarter.