Saturday, October 24, 2009

Obama's Climate Speech at MIT

President Obama spoke at MIT yesterday, touting the benefits of the cap and trade legislation pending in Congress. According to the President,

"Such legislation can transform our energy system into one that is far more efficient, clean and independent -- making the best use of resources we have in abundance, through clean coal technology, safe nuclear power, sustainably grown biofuels and energy we harness from wind, waves and sun," Obama said.

The Washington Post coverage goes on to say,

But the legislation has stalled in the Senate, where critics say that curbing greenhouse gas emissions linked to climate change could lead to higher energy prices.

The President's claims for cap and trade legislation, and the Post's comment on this legislation, illustrate precisely what is wrong with it.

The President's comment does not say, "Cap and Trade will make energy more expensive; that is good because then people will use less of it."

Rather, the President's description is a deliberate obfuscation: the cap and trade approach allows some advocates to pretend, and some voters to believe, that we can reduce carbon emissions for free by magically becoming more energy efficient or using alternative energy.

That is nonsense. Cap and trade may reduce energy emissions (although it may not, because the offset provisions could virtually gut its impact), but if it does so, it will be by raising energy prices.

A better way to raise energy prices, however, is carbon taxes. Anyone who believes the U.S. should reduce its use of fossil fuel should advocate for those, not cap and trade.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yoram Bauman has a great post: http://www.standupeconomist.com/blog/economics/carbon-cap-be-careful-what-you-wish-for/

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