We are often told that the costs of global climate change will disproportionally fall upon the poor. Unfortunately, the same is also true of many efforts to address global climate change.
Consider the example of renewable portfolio standards in Oregon, which were implemented as part of the state’s broader efforts to decrease fossil fuel use and combat climate change. Todd Wynn of the Cascade Policy Institute writes:
In 2007, Oregon legislators passed Senate Bill 838 which established a state Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), effectively forcing utility customers to purchase renewable energy. A recent economic analysis by Cascade Policy Institute reveals this bill has significant negative consequences…”
Specifically, Wynn notes that “[i]n 2010, approximately one in 30 Oregonians had their electricity cut off due to inability to pay.” Some of the blame can be attributed to the recession, but rising energy costs caused by renewable portfolio standards certainly worsened the financial hardships faced by low-income Oregon residents.
A new study published by economists at Suffolk University finds:
[T]hese mandates [mean that] the average Oregonian household will pay an additional $1,706 in higher electricity costs; the average commercial business will spend an extra $9,641; and the average industrial business an extra $80,115 over the period of 2015-2025. Overall, the mandate will cost Oregonians nearly $7 billion more than conventional energy sources until 2025.
The Oregon experience cautions policymakers around the world to consider the potential impacts of global climate change in light of the current reality of poverty. Policies that cause economic pain in Oregon—which had a per capita income of $36,125 in 2009—would wreck economic devastation upon developing countries. GDP per capita figures for India and China in 2009 were merely $3,200 and $6,800, respectively.
Harming the poor today in hope of helping the poor tomorrow is a dangerous foundation for public policy. Forcing low-income individuals out in the cold is never acceptable—and we must adjust our pursuit of renewable, low-emission energy sources accordingly.
You have no doubt heard about the UN’s climate conference in Copenhagen next month. Chief among the bad ideas being touted by environmental activists and politicians in the run-up to that meeting is a proposal to permit trade restrictions on the grounds that they will help to prevent climate change (for example by encouraging governments to sign up and comply with an international agreement to restrict emissions). Pascal Lamy, director of the World Trade Organization, has even sanctioned this approach, saying that the world’s priorities should be “climate first and trade, second.” And – surprise surprise – uncompetitive industries and other vested interests have jumped on the bandwagon.
Trade – along with the increased wealth and the better, less costly products and production processes that it yields – offers people in poor countries the possibility once and for all to address chronic problems such as drought-induced famine and poverty-induced diseases. Without trade, people will be much less able to adapt themselves to the climate they face now and in the future. Meanwhile, imposing restrictions on trade will inhibit specialisation and innovation, which may slow down the development of low-carbon technologies. In other words, trade restrictions are neither desirable nor are they an effective way to prevent climate change.
This petition against green protectionism is sponsored by IPN and the Freedom to Trade Campaign. If you agree, then use our online signup form to add your name (and then to confirm, click on email link that is sent to you.)
We call upon the World’s leaders to resist calls for green protectionism. Trade enables specialisation, which results in the development of new technologies and leads to the creation of wealth. In the past two decades, trade has enabled over a billion people to escape poverty. Trade is the most powerful weapon in humanity’s armoury to fight poverty and environmental ills, including climate change. Trade restrictions are not desirable, nor are they an effective means of addressing climate change.
SIGN THE PETITION: online sign-up form
Today Sustainable Development released its second report, Costly, ineffectual and protectionist carbon tariffs. The research paper looks at the cost of carbon tariffs that the EU and US are considering introducing to offset the cost of domestic carbon price signals. Our research found that a potential US carbon tariff on carbon-intensive imports is likely to be set at approximately ten per cent.
The report also finds carbon tariffs would:
* harm the same industries they seek to protect;
* be ineffective in offsetting the cost of domestic carbon price signals and addressing potential carbon leakage
* be administratively impossible to implement
* likely breach the obligations of WTO members to treat all imports equally and equivalent to domestically produced products.
This report has been produced by the Australian think tank, the Insititute for Public Affairs.
Critics said that conflating population control with efforts to tackle climate change was overly simplistic. Caroline Boin, an analyst at London-based think tank International Policy Network, also said the report was patronizing to women in the developing world.
“Whatever the problem, UNFPA repeats the same old mantra — the culprit is population and the solution is condoms,” she said. “Food scarcity, water shortages, and health problems in poor countries truly are threats for women. Population and climate control policies are not the solution, and if anything, will give governments an excuse to remain complacent in addressing poverty.”
Article Link: http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/americas/11/18/climate.change.women/
“It requires a major leap of imagination to believe that free condoms will cool down the climate,” said Caroline Boin, a policy analyst at International Policy Network, a London-based think tank.
She also questioned earlier efforts by the agency to control the world’s population.