NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


September 11, 2006

The new CO2 reduction mandate in California is the state's latest bout of feel-good environmentalism that even supporters admit will accomplish very little, says the Wall Street Journal.

The self-congratulation took place despite an understanding that:

  • By 2020 California is expected to account for only 1.3 percent of total world-wide CO2 emissions.
  • By contrast, China is expected by 2020 to increase its share of global greenhouse emissions to more than 22 percent of the world's total, surpassing the output of the entire United States.
  • Even if it reaches its CO2 goals, the state will have reduced global emissions by only 0.3 percent.

What is really accomplished here, says the Journal, is the ultimate in political symbolism. California's politicians understand that none of this will register on the global temperature dial.  They also know the Kyoto Protocol has proven to be a failure, as European countries routinely ignore their CO2 limits.

And even symbolism can have consequences, and California's economy will be lucky to escape this unscathed, says the Journal.

  • The state's high energy prices and strict pollution controls long ago forced utilities to tighten up, and this latest round of regulation will force many out of the state.
  • Those that do stay will thus pay more for the privilege, passing those costs along to consumers via higher energy prices and more expensive products.

Source: Editorial, "California Dreamin,'" Wall Street Journal, September 11, 2006.


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