While the rest of the country indicated by electing Donald Trump that it has moved on from the ideology of global warming alarmism, California won’t budge. Though Gov. Jerry Brown appeared to strike a cooperative tone with the new president, he also said only days after the election that the state will “continue to confront the existential threat of our time — devastating climate change,” a position exactly opposite of Trump’s.
Polls shows that Americans have buried climate change when ranking the country’s most important issues. California, though, is a political outlier. While the rest of the country has moved on from pursuing the European socialist model, California remains committed to that agenda.
But California is California, and no one should be surprised that its political leaders are moving to a different rhythm. Or as Brown said, the state is going to “stay true” to its principles. Yet he isn’t abiding by principle. He’s engaged in raw politics. And it’s an utterly futile, and costly, gesture.
One, California alone can’t save the world. If tomorrow Brown ordered that in 2017 every power plant, automobile and industry would be shut down across the state, there would be no change in the global temperatures a year from now or a decade from now or even in a century. California’s human greenhouse gas emissions are only a small slice — 1 percent — of the world’s total.
In fact, there’s no guarantee that even if every country in the world duplicated California’s emissions regime, the effect that is ostensibly desired by the global warming alarmist community would be achieved. We’re simply expected to take political activists at their word that cutting human greenhouse gas emissions will keep global temperatures within the limits they have designated as acceptable. But we’ve seen what their word is worth. Their forecasts of disaster that are based on unreliable computer models simply haven’t manifested themselves.
Two, restricting greenhouse gas emissions — in a state that will regulate cattle flatulence, as well as desktop computer and monitor use, to trim emissions — will take a heavy economic toll, and the framework for trouble is already in place. Senate Bill 32, which Brown signed into law in September and requires greenhouse gas emissions to be cut to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 after first reducing them to 1990 levels by 2020, will cost the economy tens of billions of dollars a year. San Francisco-based Energy and Environmental Economics reckons that reducing emissions between 26 percent and 38 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 — never mind 40 percent — could cost the state’s economy $23 billion a year.
Three, SB32 will aggravate the state’s already stubborn housing crisis. Under the law, builders will have to comply with a “de facto requirement that all new construction be built to zero net energy standards,” Former Sen. Dave Codgill, president and CEO of the California Building Industry Association, and Chris Kutzkey, president of the California Realtors Association, wrote in September in the Los Angeles Daily News.
“This means that every new house and unit will need to produce as much energy onsite as it consumes. This goal comes with a steep cost,” they warn, citing an analysis conducted by the Capitol Matrix Consulting that found “the incremental cost to achieve ZNE at over $58,000 per home.” That’s a big bite for a modest home, enough to price many hopeful buyers out of the market, leaving developers with diminished financial incentives to build.
Four, if “California principles” means following the Clean Power Plan intended to cut greenhouse gas emissions, expect higher electricity bills to follow. The plan will hurt the poor the most — no surprise there — with some seeing their costs jump a full 9 percent, according to a Pacific Research Institute report.
Brown might think he’s operating on principle, but he’s simply following progressive convention, which always produces wretched outcomes.