While world leaders gathered at the Paris climate conference promised to curb pollution, little has been said about the cost and economic impact of such measures.
On Monday a noted Danish environmentalist testified at a congressional hearing that all the pledges taken together would have a damning effect on the worldwide economy: a cost of $1 trillion per year for the next 85 years, to yield a decrease in warming of less than 1 degree Fahrenheit.
“Global warming is a problem,” said Bjorn Lomborg, president of the Copenhagen Consensus Center, an environmental think tank. “But every catastrophe has been used as a way to bludgeon us to say we should cut carbon emissions as the only solution.”
Lomborg, the author of Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist’s Guide to Global Warming, testified before the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology by video from the summit in Paris.
If enacted, all the pledges made in Paris would reduce carbon emissions by 56 gigatons by 2030, a fraction of the 6,000 tons needed to reduce temperatures by just 2 degrees Fahrenheit, he added.
The United States will spend $154 billion to $308 billion per year to reduce emissions up to 28 percent in the next decade. China’s tab will be $200-$400 billion and the European Union $305-$610 billion. The world as a whole will spend up to $1.8 trillion a year, Lomborg said.
The end result would be a reduction in the sea level by 1/100th of an inch – the thickness of three sheets of paper, said committee Chairman Lamar Smith, R-Texas, quoting from an Environmental Protection Agency document.
“Congress has repeatedly rejected the president’s extreme climate agenda,” Smith said. “So the administration instead attempts to create laws on its own. Now the administration has packaged up all these regulations and promised their implementation to the U.N.”
If President Barack Obama tries to spend money on climate regulations without the approval of Congress, he would be violating the law, testified constitutional law attorney Andrew Grossman.
“The U.S. Constitution provides no amount of money be withdrawn from the Treasury except by law,” Grossman said. “An agreement with binding financial commitments cannot be executed on the president’s sole authority.”
But one of the most chilling results of Obama’s climate agenda is shifting control over a large segment of the economy from the private sector to the government, said Oklahoma Republican Rep. Frank D. Lucas.
“The net effect is giving the government control over both the production and consumption of energy, which is a major expansion of economic power,” Lucas said. “With the federal government … picking winners and losers, from this vantage point it’s almost unimaginable what the consequences could be.”
The sole witness advocating climate change measures was Andrew Steer, president and CEO of the World Resources Institute, a research organization. He pointed to America’s Energy Star program that he said has saved households $360 billion on their electric bills since 1992.
“This has nothing to do with government vs. the private sector,” he said. “Cities over the last 100 years have been designed for automobiles rather than people. In the U.S., we lose $1 trillion per year due to what’s called urban sprawl. Houston spends 14 percent of its citizens’ income traveling back and forth to work. Copenhagen spends 4 percent. Having a more compact and connected city [is the answer]. … It won’t happen immediately but by 2030 – you watch.”
Steer’s projections of sea level rise and air temperature increase were double the figures cited by Lomborg. He also testified that going green would be good for commerce, not bad.
Lomborg, however, pointed to existing electricity rates in Germany, which leads the world in renewable energy, and Denmark, where 140 percent of its electricity demand came from windmills this year.
“Germany and Denmark are the most expensive countries in the world,” Lomborg said. “A lot of people in Europe are no longer able to pay their electricity bills. People are energy poor and have to make decisions which rooms to heat during the winter.”
Four hours after the hearing ended, the House voted to block Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which would place additional ozone restrictions on power plants. The Senate passed the measure last month. Obama has promised to veto it.
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