Morning Bell: Avoiding Our Own Cap-and-Trade Calamity
Conn Carroll /
Possibly the scariest outcome from Super Tuesday is that the top three candidates to become president all support a cap-and-trade approach to global warming. Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Barack Obama (D-Ill.) are all smart and capable leaders, but they also have been completely engrossed in White House politics for more than a year. Hopefully when they have the time to examine recent evidence they will reject their current proposals, which include costly carbon limits that will harm our economy without positively affecting the climate at all.
The failure of the European Union’s cap-and-trade system is now well established. Due to the inherent difficulty of documenting the carbon reductions necessary for any carbon cap-and-trade plan, the price of carbon never rose to the price needed to reduce emissions. Worse, should the U.S. adopt any cap-and-trade plan, the cost to our economy would be anywhere between 4% and .1% of GDP. Furthermore, even if a U.S. cap-and-trade plan met Kyoto’s ambitious goals, the Earth’s surface temperature would be reduced by an imperceptible 0.14°F per 50 years.
Rather than trying to ratchet down emissions with existing technologies — something that is proving to be both elusive and prohibitively expensive — we should focus on developing the next generation of energy technologies that emit less carbon. Research also shows that investing in measures to mitigate the effect of climate change (rather than attempt to block the change) will both save lives and make it easier for the developing world to achieve sustainable economic growth.
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