Inslee’s emissions proposal is unrealistic

Source:  Kitsap Sun

In appearances before both Senate and State House committees, Governor Inslee strongly supported legislation that would dramatically reduce the state?s CO2 emissions, citing the rising threat of climate change. The bills, SB 5802 and HB 1915, would determine how the state would meet its previously established goal to reduce CO2 to 1990 levels by 2020, 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2035, and 50 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.

The question is whether these reductions, even if they could be achieved, would actually have any measurable effect on global climate ? and to what extent would the state?s economy and the lifestyle of its citizens be impacted. The answer is troubling.

An analysis of U.S. CO2 emissions by the Science and Public Policy Institute shows that this state emits 77.5 million metric tons per year (2009), which is about 0.26 of a percent of the total global emissions. Using Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assumptions, the report calculates that if this state?s CO2 emissions were to be entirely eliminated, it would potentially affect world temperature by only 0.0012 degree Centigrade by the year 2050. The report also states, ?If the U.S. as a whole stopped all CO2 emissions immediately, the impact on projected global temperature rise would be approximately 0.08 degree Centigrade by the year 2050.?

And even those small gains would not be realized because of trends in worldwide energy consumption. Energy expert Peter Huber says: ?We rich people can?t stop the world?s 5 billion poor people from burning the couple of trillion tons of cheap carbon they have within easy reach. We can?t even make any durable dent in global emissions ? because emissions from the developing world are growing too fast.? Huber notes that China is adding 100 gigawatts of coal-fired electrical capacity a year. ?That?s another whole United States? worth of coal consumption added every three years, with no stopping point in sight.?

Let?s look at where the CO2 cuts would have to be made. In this state, a whopping 55 percent of fossil fuel use is in transportation. So a major thrust would be to force people out of their cars and onto public transportation. But this is wistful thinking. In the Puget Sound Region, under the state?s aggressive sustainable growth policies, over half of transportation spending is already on public transportation projects, yet over 95 percent of daily trips are by car because public transportation simply doesn?t work for most people. And there is little possibility of changing this demographic because, as public policy consultant Wendell Cox notes, only about seven percent of Seattle?s jobs are accessible by transit in 45 minutes.

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