President Obama has announced what he calls “an historic agreement” in a climate change deal with China. In his commitment to reduce carbon emissions 26 percent to 28 percent below 2005 levels, the president is committing Americans to higher energy prices, a weaker economy and a lost competitive advantage.
China’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is akin to a pledge from a broke, addicted gambler to his bookie to pay later. China is telling the United States to make the economic sacrifices and restrict its energy use now, and China will start reducing its emissions beginning in 2030. A few thoughts on why this is a raw deal for both countries:
- China’s gross domestic product per capita has increased from a little more than $300 in 1990 to almost $7,000 today (which still isn’t that much). The use of carbon-emitting conventional fuels has been a staple in such rapidly accelerating growth. Despite the claim that China will peak its carbon dioxide emissions more than a decade and a half from now, there’s no proof China will have a true inclination then to curb economic growth to restrict climate emissions.
- China’s lack of intent to tackle true environmental problems should be a red flag to this commitment. For instance, consider the black carbon soot problem from burning coal that China won’t tackle. If China won’t even continually use scrubbers to handle the soot problem because of the restraints it would impose on industrial productivity, despite the direct adverse health impacts, why should it be trusted to reduce a nontoxic, colorless, odorless gas?
- Where’s India’s seat at the table? By the time China peaks its carbon emissions output, India likely will have overtaken China as the most populous country. Even if climate change were a problem, China’s commitment would still have only a marginal impact on global temperatures.
- China and India have hundreds of millions without access to electricity. The commitment and pressing issue for these developing economies should be to give their people a better standard of living, not reduce carbon emissions.
- Economic growth and affordable, reliable energy are a priority for the people living in China, but action on climate change is simply not. The United Nations’ “My World” survey has more than 5.18 million votes submitted from nearly every country and territory around the world. Individuals are presented with 16 issues and asked to select the six that “are most important for you and your family.” Dead last among the choices was “action taken on climate change.” Action taken on climate change also was least important to individuals in the least developed countries. Much higher (fourth) was reliable energy at home.
- Plenty of valid reasons exist for why action on climate change ranks at the bottom. Climate models used by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and others predicted accelerated rates of global warming. But the conditions scientists have actually observed don’t match up with those predictions. Even as carbon dioxide emissions around the world have increased, average global temperatures have plateaued for the past 18 years. The climate is changing, as it always has, but the risks are proving to be exaggerated, the models flawed and the excessive regulations to restrict energy use will come with significant costs and insignificant environmental impact.
As China commits to carbon emission reductions far into the future, the Obama administration is unilaterally imposing regulations that will drive up energy bills for American families and businesses today.
Along with the federal government’s war on coal, Obama is planning to use more executive orders to regulate aspects of the economy and limit individual choice under the pretense of addressing climate change. It’s far past time for our elected officials to stand up and prevent the federal government from implementing these economy-squeezing regulations.