America's $100 Billion Climate Change Flop
A Commentary By Stephen Moore
For at least the last 20 years, politicians in Washington, at the behest of green energy groups, have spent some $100 billion of taxpayer money to fight climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. How is that going for us so far?
A recent Associated Press story, based on the latest data on global carbon emissions, provides a pretty accurate report card: "Carbon Dioxide Emissions Reached a Record High in 2022."
The article tells us: "Communities around the world emitted more carbon dioxide in 2022 than in any other year on records dating to 1900, a result of air travel rebounding from the pandemic and more cities turning to coal as a low-cost source of power. Emissions of the climate-warming gas that were caused by energy production grew 0.9% to reach 36.8 gigatons in 2022, the International Energy Agency reported Thursday. (The mass of one gigaton is equivalent to about 10,000 fully loaded aircraft carriers, according to NASA.)"
You've got to almost shriek out loud when you read this line: "Thursday's (IEA) report was described as disconcerting by climate scientists."
"Disconcerting"? That's putting it lightly. We are the furthest thing from being climate change alarmists, but when you spend $100 billion of taxpayer money and achieve absolutely nothing, President Joe Biden and his green allies should be arrested for criminal fraud.
Where did all the money go? Tens of billions of dollars have lined the pockets of left-wing environmental and social justice groups that have been emitting a lot of hot air but no results. Green energy companies have milked taxpayers of tens of billions more, even as wind and solar only produce about 12% of our energy.
Is this the greatest ripoff of U.S. taxpayers in history?
I've often said that I doubt all the doomsday predictions of global warming are accurate, but if they are, we are goners. Because nothing the Left is doing on climate change is making even the tiniest bit of difference, as the new report shows. What it is doing is giving politicians and activists a chance to virtue-signal. Does it even matter to them that none of their schemes are working?
The most obvious flaw in the green strategy is that few, if any, of the big polluters are cooperating despite the assurances from Biden's climate change ambassador John Kerry. For the umpteenth time: The United States is not the problem -- China is. Its pollution levels are three times higher than ours. Soon India will surpass the U.S. in carbon emissions.
Even the top scientists who study climate change admit that without progress from China, nothing America does to reduce emissions will reverse the global trends. The U.S. has reduced our emissions more than any other nation, and the problem continues to get worse. And yet, the rest of the world blames the U.S.
All we are accomplishing in the Biden war on fossil fuels is kneecapping our own domestic energy industry while the rest of the world consumes more fossil fuels than ever before. Instead of the oil and gas produced in Texas or North Dakota, it's coming from Russia, Iran and OPEC. The energy source that is growing the fastest now is coal.
The only way to combat climate change is not through more command-and-control government action. That never works. The COVID-19 crisis and the incompetent government response should have taught us that lesson. We need more growth and better technology to deal with a changing climate. The leftists want less growth and have even been backing "degrowth." Since when is making America poorer the solution to any problem?
In the wake of this epic policy failure, the Democrats aren't backing off. Biden's latest budget calls for $500 billion more for climate change over the next decade. Talk about throwing good money after bad. We shouldn't be too surprised because, as Milton Friedman used to remind us, anytime a government program isn't working, the politicians' response is: "We aren't spending enough money."
If congressional Republicans are smart (a big if), they will not appropriate one penny more for this epic public policy flop. If we want to save our country's future for our children, the first step is to stop adding to our $32 trillion national debt.
Stephen Moore is a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation and an economist with FreedomWorks. His latest book is "Govzilla: How the Relentless Growth of Government is Devouring our Economy."
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