Whatever the results of the Copenhagen conference on climate change, one thing is for sure: Draconian reductions on carbon emissions will be tacitly accepted by the most developed economies and sloughed off by many developing ones. In essence, emerging economies get to cut their “carbon” intensity–a natural product of their economic evolution–while we get to cut our throats.
[…]Our leaders will dutifully accept cuts in our carbon emissions–up to 80% by 2050–while developing countries increasetheirs, albeit at a lower rate. Oh, we also pledge to send billions in aid to help them achieve this goal.The media shills, scientists, bureaucrats and corporate rent-seekers gathered at Copenhagen won’t give much thought to what this means to the industrialized world’s middle and working class. For many of them the new carbon regime means a gradual decline in living standards. Huge increases in energy costs, taxes and a spate of regulatory mandates will restrict their access to everything from single-family housing and personal mobility to employment in carbon-intensive industries like construction, manufacturing, warehousing and agriculture.
You can get a glimpse of this future in high-unemployment California. Here a burgeoning regulatory regime tied to global warming threatens to turn the state into a total “no go” economic development zone. Not only do companies have to deal with high taxes, cascading energy prices and regulations, they now face audits of their impact on global warming. Far easier to move your project to Texas–or if necessary, China.
Now consider this Wall Street Journal article regarding the EPA decision to call carbon dioxide a threat to public health.
An endangerment finding would allow the EPA to use the federal Clean Air Act to regulate carbon-dioxide emissions, which are produced whenever fossil fuel is burned. Under that law, the EPA could require emitters of as little as 250 tons of carbon dioxide per year to install new technology to curb their emissions starting as soon as 2012.
The EPA has said it will only require permits from big emitters — facilities that put out 25,000 tons of carbon dioxide a year. But that effort to tailor the regulations to avoid slamming small businesses with new costs is expected to be challenged in court.
Legislators are aware that polls show the public appetite for action that would raise energy prices to protect the environment has fallen precipitously amid the recession.
Congressional legislation also faces plenty of U.S. industry opposition. Under the legislation, which has been passed by the House but is now stuck in the Senate, the federal government would set a cap on the amount of greenhouse gas the economy could emit every year. The government would distribute a set number of emission permits to various industries. Companies that wanted to be able to emit more than their quota could buy extra permits from those that had figured out how to emit less.
Proponents of the cap-and-trade approach say emission-permit trading will encourage industries to find the least-expensive ways to curb greenhouse-gas output. But opponents say it will saddle key industries with high costs not borne by rivals in China or India, and potentially cost the U.S. jobs.
There will be an economic impact on ordinary Americans from the Democrats trying to “do something” about global warming. The economic impact will not be felt primarily by liberal elites in government.