NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

How to Lower American Living Standards to that of North Korea

September 28, 2015

California governor Jerry Brown, along with other prominent democrats such as President Obama, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders want to cut carbon-dioxide emissions by 80% by 2050 (80 by 50) to levels of that of developing countries such as North Korea.

Earlier this month the California Assembly rejected a bill that would have required the state to reduce emissions by 80%. In addition, all of the candidates seeking the Democratic nomination for president support this emissions reduction program.

What would 80 by 50 mean for individuals?

  • Residents of California are responsible for the emission of about 9.42 tons of carbon dioxide per capita per year, the program would cut those emissions to 1.88 tons by 2050.
  • Achieving 80 by 50 on a national basis will be even more painful, as the national average is 16.15 tons per capita.
  • Wind and solar energy cannot be the solution. Their land-use requirements are enormous, they can't store large quantities of electricity and their transmission is intermittent.
  • Nuclear energy is doing more to cut carbon-dioxide emissions than any other form of energy, but Democratic politicians and their supporters decry it.
  • None of the plan's supporters has provided a cost estimate but it's likely that it would cost more than $5 trillion.

In short, the leading Democrat contenders for the White House, have endorsed an agenda that will have a massive cost. Yet not one of them has provided a credible plan for achieving such reductions without wrecking the economy. They do not even discuss a plan that is affordable and technically viable because that is a very unlikely scenario.

Source: Robert Bryce, "How to Lower U.S. Living Standards," Wall Street Journal, September 21, 2015.

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