All Economic Pain, No Environmental Gain

COMMENTARY Environment

All Economic Pain, No Environmental Gain

Dec 18th, 2009 1 min read

Former Senior Policy Analyst, Energy and Environment Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies

Ben Lieberman was a specialist in energy and environmental issues.

Rep. Sensenbrenner is right -- a major deal in Copenhagen or a comparable domestic global warming bill would be all economic pain for no environmental gain. If President Obama wants to truly represent the interests of the American people, he would not sign onto an agreement with any real teeth.

The reality is that ratcheting down carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel use would be prohibitively expensive. The citizens of none of the 192 nations represented here at Copenhagen really want this done to them. Not Americans, whose concern about global warming is waning while concern about the economy and jobs remains justifiably high. Not Europeans, whose actions put the lie to their words -- many EU countries have failed to reduce emissions under the existing Kyoto Protocol but are arguing for tighter targets in Copenhagen. And certainly not the Chinese, Indians, and others from developing nations who insist on no binding reductions for themselves but expect to come away from Copenhagen with promises of massive foreign aid.

The last point makes the Copenhagen agenda an even lousier deal for the American people. In addition to a multi-trillion dollar energy tax (higher gasoline prices and electric bills, over a million net job losses), developing nations have demanded 0.5 to 1 percent of GDP in aid annually -- 70 to 140 billion from the US to help them deal with global warming. Quite a price tag even in the best of economic times, but far worse given the lingering recession and 10 percent unemployment.

And for what? Climategate - the release of emails and other documents showing gross misconduct amongst some the key scientists responsible for the "official" UN science that was to be relied upon at Copenhagen -- only adds to doubts that global warming really is an impending crisis. And even if it was, increased emissions from China would swamp any reductions undertaken by the US, no matter how costly.

Ben Lieberman is a senior policy analyst in the Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies at the Heritage Foundation.

First Appeared in National Journal