Q&A Friday #89: Cap And Trade

Question: “Is there any legitimacy to McCain’s belief that “cap and trade” is a market based solution to global warming?” — RWNReader2

Answer: First of all, setting aside the fact that there has been very little global warming in the last century, that there is no global warming occurring right now, that there probably will be no global warming in the next decade, that there is no scientific consensus on global warming, and that mankind probably has very little and perhaps even nothing to do with any warming that has occurred, the whole “cap and trade” idea is a completely unworkable idea.

Here’s Congressman Joe Barton writing about the folly of a cap and trade system,

We can look to Europe right now and notice a cap-and-trade system that was created to meet emission reduction goals under the Kyoto accords. Not only won’t the goals be met, both emissions and the cost of electricity are increasing. Germany, for example, has achieved a 30 percent hike in the cost of wholesale electricity, along with a bulge in unemployment to 9.5 percent. Higher emissions, higher prices and higher unemployment are not the results I want to emulate in the United States.

…America has big energy challenges in the next 20 years. Electricity production must grow by at least 40 percent. The demand for motor and aviation fuels is expected to increase 1 percent to 3 percent a year, and the requirement for natural gas to heat our homes, cook our food and fuel our industry is headed up. That’s why I welcomed the agreement between BP and ConocoPhillips to build a new natural gas pipeline from Alaska. We’ve gotten by with the same gas supply levels for a decade, and you can see it in the cost of heating a house even after a 19 percent demand reduction by industrial gas users.

In short, life and prosperity in America require energy, and we’ve got large domestic reserves of it right here in the neighborhood. Maybe that’s the most important aspect of the pipeline agreement — it’s a move to be self-reliant instead of betting more of our future on energy from across the oceans.

Another problem with adopting a cap-and-trade program for the United States is that even if we want one, it is very unlikely that developing nations would do the same. Some argue that America needs to cap emissions unilaterally because doing so will inspire the world’s big polluters like China and India to follow us. China, the planet’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, isn’t interested. Each year, China adds more coal-fired electricity generation than all the power in Texas, and Texas is the U.S. leader in electricity generation.

China is committed to raising its enormous population from poverty, and it has given every indication that it intends to stick with the current policy of breakneck economic development and job creation. China argues that it has the right to grow and raise its standard of living closer to ours, and if we want to reduce worldwide emissions, we should do it by ourselves.

In summary, cap-and-trade works badly in Europe, is DOA in Asia and makes no economic sense in America.

What more needs to be said?

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