Why Cap And Trade Is A Waste Of Time: Poor Countries Won’t Curb Their Emissions

by John Hawkins | July 16, 2009 12:52 pm

There is no global warming occurring. That’s a plain, indisputable fact — or as Al Gore might put in, an inconvenient truth.

But, let’s set that all-important fact aside and make three assumptions commonly made by global warming alarmists, all of which are untrue.

1) Global warming is occurring.

2) Manmade greenhouse emissions are causing global warming.

3) The Cap and Trade bill that passed the House reduces American greenhouse emissions dramatically enough to do America’s part in reducing global warming.

In other words, global warming isn’t occurring, man wouldn’t be causing it if it were, and the Cap and Trade bill that passed the House doesn’t even significantly cut greenhouse gasses — but, let’s assume the opposite.

Here’s the issue: the United States is just one nation out of many. Even if the environmentalist kooks and the people lining their pockets with global warming profits, like Al Gore, are right — we need the whole world, especially large developing nations like India and China, to reduce greenhouse gasses to make a difference.

However, as Shikha Dalmia[1] notes in a column at Forbes, it’s simply not going to happen,

In fact, there is a perfectly good reason developing countries are unwilling to act on climate change: What they are being asked to do is more awful than climate change’s implications–even if one accepts all the alarmist predictions.

Consider what would be necessary to slash global greenhouse-gas emissions just 50% below 2000 levels by 2050–a far less aggressive goal than what the enviros say is necessary to avert climate catastrophe. According to U.S. Chamber of Commerce calculations, even if the West reduced its emissions by 80% below 2000 levels, developing countries would still have to return their emissions to 2000 levels to meet the 50% target. However, Indians currently consume roughly 15 times less energy per capita than Americans–and Chinese consume seven times less. Asking them, along with the rest of the developing world, to go back to 2000 emission levels with a 2050 population would mean putting them on a very drastic energy diet.

The human toll of this is unfathomable: It would require these countries to abandon plans to ever conquer poverty, of course. But beyond that it would require a major scaling back of living standards under which their middle classes–for whom three square meals, cars and air-conditioning are only now beginning to come within reach–would have to go back to subsistence living, and the hundreds of millions who are at subsistence would have to accept starvation.

In short, the choice for developing countries is between mass death due to the consequences of an overheated planet sometime in the distant future, and mass suicide due to imposed instant starvation right now. Is it any surprise that they are reluctant to jump on the global-warming bandwagon?

…The Waxman-Markey climate change bill that just passed the U.S. House of Representatives wants to force developing countries to accept this fate by resorting to the old and tired method of protectionism. Should this monstrosity become law, starting in 2020 the United States will impose carbon tariffs on goods from any country that does not accept binding reductions. But this is a path to mutually assured economic destruction–not to combating climate change.

For starters, by 2020, when these tariffs go into effect, India and China–with GDPs projected to grow anywhere from 6% to 10% annually–will have much bigger economies with huge domestic markets that they are increasingly opening to each other. Thus they might well be better off forgoing access to the U.S. market than accepting crippling restrictions on their growth.

Also, by then they will also have more economic clout on the world stage to enforce their own ideas of who ought to take moral responsibility for climate change. The West’s case for restricting Indian and Chinese exports rests on the claim that these countries’ total emissions will exceed those from the West within the next few decades. (China’s emissions are already at par with those of the U.S., the biggest emitter).

But these countries have, and will continue to have, far lower emissions on a per-capita basis, given that China’s are now around one-fifth those of the United States and India’s one-twentieth. Thus they would have an equally valid case for imposing countervailing restrictions on American exports based on per-capita emissions. The West might well be the bigger loser in this economic warfare if it is barred from accessing new, growing markets.

What environmental activists are demanding is that nations like China and India commit to permanently living in grinding poverty and miserable conditions in hopes that it’ll stop global warming, which wouldn’t be as bad grinding poverty for those nations, is set to occur in a hundred years, and probably won’t happen anyway.

What are the chances of that happening? Zero.

Global warming wackjobs deal with this fact, which completely destroys all their arguments for cap and trade, an energy tax, etc., by sticking their fingers in their ears and screaming, “la-la-la, I can’t hear you!”

The very fact that ecowacks simply can’t deal with this question in any sort of a rational way should tell you how sound their thinking about this problem is at its core.

  1. Shikha Dalmia: http://www.forbes.com/2009/07/14/g8-climate-change-india-opinions-columnists-shikha-dalmia.html

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