Scholar discusses ‘crisis’ of pro-climate change campaign at property rights forum

Scholar discusses ‘crisis’ of pro-climate change campaign at property rights forum

Bozeman Daily Chronicle (MT), February 19, 2010

Policy scholar Steven Hayward told attendees of a property rights forum in Bozeman Thursday that proposals to drastically cut greenhouse gasses emitted by the United States are “economically insensible and undemocratic” and are facing a crisis in public support.

Hayward, a senior fellow of the American Enterprise Institute and co-author of the annual Index of Leading Environmental Indicators, said President Barack Obama’s goal of cutting America’s greenhouse gas emission to a fifth of what they were in 2005 by 2050 would require U.S. citizens to return to 1910 levels of emissions, when the country had 92 million people.

The goal set by Obama would mean the entire county could emit 1 billion tons of CO2 tons in 2050. With Census Bureau predictions putting the 2050 population at about 420 million, per capita emissions would have to fall to 2.5 tons per person, Hayward said.

“The only countries that can match this are Haiti, Somalia and Belize,” he said. The target is “completely out of the realm of reality.”

Hayward gave the luncheon address, entitled “Property Rights and the Global Commons: An Alternative to Kyoto-Copenhagen Climate Policy,” at a forum sponsored by the Montana Policy Institute and the Property and Environment Research Center.

Hayward said the “cap and trade” legislation currently stalled in the U.S. Senate, which would require companies to purchase permits to emit carbon dioxide, threatens property rights by mandating energy efficiency standards in homes and commercial structures. It would also give the federal government unprecedented regulatory powers over the energy industry, he said.

As of Thursday, three companies — British Petroleum, ConocoPhillips and Caterpillar –announced their decision not to renew memberships in the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, saying proposed climate change legislation would harm the motor fuel and natural gas industries.

Hayward spoke mostly about the “green fatigue” that he said has set in, especially after the hacking of e-mails exchanged by some climate change scientists that were made public last year. He compared the affect of “Climategate” on the global warming movement to the emergence of the Pentagon papers on the Vietnam War.

“It changed the conversation fundamentally,” he said. “It’s the issue that ate their movement alive.”

Lauren Russell can be reached at [email protected] or 582-2635.

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