Statement by David A. Ridenour, Vice President of The National Center for Public Policy Research, at the "Just Say No to ClimateCare" rally held on the West side of the U.S. Capitol, October 30, 1997
Last week, President Clinton announced his strategy for the current negotiations in Bonn and the upcoming negotiations in Kyoto. I like to call it Clinton-Lite: It has half the controversy of his previous approach, but the same bad economic aftertaste.
The plan calls for bringing down greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2008-2012 using tax incentives and through the development of an tradeable emissions permit scheme -- a system supposedly less economically disruptive because it would permit companies to exceed limits on greenhouse gas emissions by permitting them to purchase unused permits from overseas.
The key difference between these tradeable permits and their leading alternative, a carbon tax, seems to be that one is called a tax while the other is called a permit, making the later less controversial, more politically feasible. But whether a company must buy permits or pay a tax to emit carbon dioxide makes little difference. In either case, the economy will be slowed, disposable income will drop, and people will be made to suffer. A study by the respected econometrics firm The WEFA Group found that the cumulative Gross Domestic Product loss over 20-years of a Clinton-style permits scheme would be over $3.3 trillion.
At The National Center for Public Policy Research, we're particularly concerned about the impact sharp restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions will have on the poor and minorities.
One study suggests that returning emissions to 1990 levels by 2010 will slow Gross Domestic Product growth by one percent annually, reduce income and wages by between five and ten percent per year and worse, change the distribution of income against the poor. The poorest 20% of Americans stand to lose up to 10% of their incomes while the wealthiest fifth could gain up to 2% in their income. With minorities earning on average just 70-75% the salaries of whites, they make up a disproportionate number of the poor and thus have the most to lose.
Tragically, such income losses can have dire implications for public health as people use additional income for such things as health care, better nutrition, and safer, better housing. Its been estimated that for every $5-$11.5 billion in regulatory costs, one person dies prematurely each year. Assuming it costs $200 billion per year to stabilize our greenhouse gas emissions, between 17,000 and 40,000 Americans could die prematurely.
Sadly, such a sacrifice would be made despite the fact that both satellite and weather balloon data indicate that the temperature of the planet has been declining over the past 18 years.
The balance of evidence -- to use the U.N.'s lingo -- now suggests that some scientists will do anything to ensure that their access to federal grants for global warming research continues. We must not place their greed above the needs of America's most disadvantaged citizens.
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