Tuesday, August 07, 2007

$533 billion climate change scare story

No wonder support for dramatic action to curb the excesses of US energy consumption to aid the reduction of greenhouse gases is on the weak side among US consumers, politicians and producers when figures like this are thrown about.

I am too lazy to do the maths but $533billion over 21 years as a percentage of total US output is probably not that severe and could be achieved. Moreover, the figure is probably way out. The US has one of the most adaptable and dynamic economies on the world - it would not surprise me to see the US benefiting as it becomes the technological leader in all things "green" leading to a stronger and cleaner economy in the long run. The Porter hypothesis (that increased regulations can lead to increases in output and not reductions) is well known.

These stories are of little help. There is widespread academic support for increased gasoline (petrol) prices in the US - such scaremongering undermines this worthy Pigovian cause.

Senate Climate Bill Shaves $533 Billion Off US Economy

WASHINGTON - A Senate bill to cut US greenhouse gas emissions would raise energy prices and also reduce American economic output by more than half a trillion dollars over two decades, according to a government report released Monday.

Congress is expected to consider climate legislation this fall that would fight global warming. Many businesses worry the US economy would suffer under a measure to impose tough mandatory cuts in emissions.

One proposal, introduced by Sens. Joseph Lieberman and John McCain, would gradually reduce total US emissions by the year 2050 to 60 percent below 1990 levels.

The bill would require companies to report their yearly greenhouse gas emissions and submit a matching number of government-issued allowances to equal the emissions spewed. Companies that emit more would have to buy allowances from cleaner companies that produce fewer emissions.

However, the proposal would cut into the US economy and raise gasoline and other energy prices paid by consumers, according to an analysis of the legislation by the Energy Information Administration.

The legislation "increases the cost of using energy, which reduces real economic output, reduces purchasing power, and lowers aggregate demand for goods and services," the EIA said.

With companies trying to meet the shrinking emissions levels, US economic output would be $533 billion lower over the 2009 to 2030 time period, the agency said.

In the transportation sector, gasoline and other petroleum products would cost more as oil refiners buy allowances to cover the emissions spewed by their facilities.

"The cost of the allowances will be included in the prices of the fuels," the EIA said.

Gasoline prices are forecast to be 23 cents a gallon higher in 2020 and 41 cents more in 2030 because of the required emission cuts, the agency said.

The EIA said the fuel price increases would not be large enough "to create dramatic shifts in consumer behavior," but there would be more demand for fuel efficient vehicles.

Coal would have the highest cost increase, rising 129 percent by 2020 and 245 percent by 2030, because burning coal, especially to fuel power plants, results in large emissions of greenhouse gas emissions that would require expensive allowances to offset.

As a result, average electricity prices would be 10 percent higher in 2020 and 21 percent higher in 2030, the EIA said.


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Steve said...

Doing our part in slowing down global climate change for the same price as the war in Iraq which has only made us less secure?

Sounds like a bargain!