Hysteria and greed create costly energy policies that will not save the planet

Those pushing for more action – and more money – to reduce greenhouse gas emissions sound a lot like Dr. Smith in the 1960s television series “Lost in Space”: “We are doomed, doomed I mean!”

Last week, President Joe Biden said that climate change “is literally, not figuratively, a clear and present danger.” UN Secretary General António Guterres said we only have eight years to save the planet or the world will commit “collective suicide”.

The world is suffering from a “climate emergency” and a “climate catastrophe”. Every heat wave, storm, flood, drought and blizzard is no longer time, but is instead irrefutable proof of our impending end.

Those overwhelmed by hysteria cannot think or act rationally. Yet politicians and policy makers, including Biden, are bent on igniting more flames, like serial arsonists.

The reason is simple: money.

Many politicians are certainly aware that the draconian policies they seek – a ban on fossil fuel production, the forced electrification of homes and businesses, the mandatory adoption of electric vehicles, and complete dependence on wind and solar energy – will not work. much less will they save the planet.

President Joe Biden speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington on Wednesday, July 27, 2022.
Biden said climate change “is literally, not figuratively, a clear and present danger” last week.
AP / Susan Walsh

The latest BP Statistical Review of World Energy shows that since 2000, the world CO2 emissions increased by more than 10 billion tons, more than the combined emissions of North America and the European Union. China and India, which together account for nearly 40% of these emissions, are building dozens of coal-fired power plants each year. In total, nearly 200 new coal-fired power plants are under construction in Asia, which will emit more than 1 billion tonnes of CO2 every year.

And the expansion of coal is not limited to Asia. African nations want to significantly increase energy production. South Africa is completing the 4,800-megawatt Kusile coal plant, as well as finishing the Medupi plant of the same size last year, to reduce the blackouts that have plagued the nation for years.

With world natural gas prices rising rapidly, other African countries are likely to turn to coal for their growing energy needs. No matter how draconian the energy policies adopted by the United States and Europe, developing countries will continue to build the energy resources they need.

So why pursue policies that will impoverish millions of people and have virtually no impact on the climate? Because, loaded as they are with green energy subsidies, they offer virtually limitless opportunities for self-enrichment to those who sell them.

Although one of the most expensive generation resources known, Biden has issued an executive order to promote offshore wind development in the Gulf of Mexico and along the southeastern coast. But the offshore wind developers are almost entirely European companies, which will collect not only production tax credits, but also Team Biden’s new 30% investment tax credit. (Billions of subsidies for electric vehicles and charging infrastructure are also available, in addition to existing subsidies.)

Officials have even enacted legislation to stifle local opposition to massive wind and solar projects in rural counties, to the benefit of developers at the expense of their citizens. The New York Accelerated Renewable Energy Growth and Community Benefit Act of 2020, for example, effectively foils state provisions on internal rules. Wind and solar developers have filed lawsuits against small rural communities, many of which lack the resources to fight back.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, center, speaks during a briefing at the White House in Washington, May 16, 2022
Pete Buttigieg said the Department of Transportation will use about $ 1 billion to remedy racial inequalities in highway projects across the country.
AP / Susan Walsh

And governments will spend billions of dollars to combat “environmental racism,” such as Transport Secretary Pete Buttigieg’s plan to target “racist” highways. Biden’s budget proposes billions more for the Environmental Protection Agency to spend on compliance and awareness of victims of “environmental crimes,” few of which will provide significant benefits, except for the well-connected.

No wonder Bjorn Lomborg calls the doomsday crowd the “climate-industrial complex”.

This week, meanwhile, second-quarter gross domestic product data is likely to show the US in recession. The latest consumer confidence data, which has declined over the past two months, is also expected to come out. The Federal Reserve just raised interest rates again. Expensive and physically unfeasible large-scale green energy policies will only accelerate economic decline. Maybe Dr. Smith was right after all.

Jonathan Lesser is the president of Continental Economics and an adjunct associate of the Manhattan Institute.

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