In a previous post, CO2 Cap-and-Trade Meets the (China) Dragon, I described China’s rising greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions as a “one-country negation” to the Waxman-Markey climate bill (HR 2454). “The expected growth of coal-fired generation in China over the next 20 years will result in a net increase in CO2 emissions from their power sector of more than ten times that of reduced U.S. emissions due to coal constraints,” I concluded. This is good, not bad, insofar as dung and wood are terrible things to burn.
Given China’s path, unilateral U.S. actions like Waxman-Markey are futile, symbolic measures. Indeed, U.S. industry would move to China to transfer emissions (called “leakage“) under a stringent U.S. carbon-dioxide regime.
A PR Moment from China
The Chinese government recently announced its intent to reduce the energy efficiency of its economy (GJ/$GDP) by 20%, invest something like $586 billion in renewable energy technologies, improve the power grid and other infrastructure by 2020, and phase out its older, less efficient coal-fired power plants with newer models, including supercritical (higher pressure boiler) technologies.…
Jim Manzi has a very good post introducing the analysis of costs and benefits of Waxman-Markey. Here I want to follow up on Manzi’s great start, by showing that Chip Knappenberger’s estimate of the climate benefits of Waxman-Markey (W-M) actually erred on the side of optimism in its assumptions.
Specifically, Knappenberger very conservatively ignored the problem of “leakage”–he didn’t model the fact that unilateral U.S. carbon caps would actually increase the rate at which other countries’ own emissions grow. What’s worse, even if the entire world signed on to the aggressive emission schedule in W-M, the resulting environmental benefits would be achieved at a staggering cost in terms of lost economic output.
No matter how you slice it–whether the U.S. goes it alone, or the rest of the world signs on too–the environmental benefits of W-M are swamped by its economic costs.…