NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Greenhouse Gas Controls Offer Economic Pain, No Gain

August 11, 2003

Climate change activists are exaggerating the certainty in the linkage between human action and climate change and advocating policies that are likely to deprive society of the economic productivity it needs to protect environmental quality, according to a new study by the Fraser Institute.

Among the study's major findings:

  • Increasing energy efficiency and conservation generally means higher energy and technology costs.
  • Imposing higher costs of energy generally slows economic growth, which is itself a protective factor in human health and environmental quality.
  • Increasing the amount of energy produced from "renewable" power sources generally means more expensive energy, and in any event, cannot come close to providing the power needed for industrial societies.
  • Accelerating fuel switching beyond the point where it is economically efficient diverts resources that could be used to secure safety elsewhere, ultimately leaving society poorer and correspondingly less healthy and environmentally protected.

The study concludes that while the threat of rapid climate change is certainly one to be taken seriously, it is important to clearly understand what is happening to the climate. The general population should know what the causes of observed changes are before we take actions that will divert scarce resources into potentially fruitless, or even harmful, policies.

Source: Kenneth Green, "Greenhouse Gas Reductions: Not Warranted, Not Beneficial," Public Policy Sources Number 68, July 2003, Fraser Institute.


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