Energy

Washington’s CO2 Tax Plan Averts Less Than 2/1000 Of A Degree Of Warming

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Michael Bastasch Energy Editor

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee’s newest proposal for a tax on carbon dioxide would have no measurable impact on future global warming, according to a federal government climate model.

Even if Washington state immediately stopped emitting carbon dioxide, only 2/1000 of a degree Celsius of future projected warming would be averted by the end of the century. There’d be such a small impact on future projected warming, it would be impossible to get reliable measures.

“That would be the global temperature effect in the year 2100 if Washington were to reduce its [greenhouse gas] emissions to zero immediately,” American Enterprise Institute scholar Benjamin Zycher, who crunched the numbers, wrote Thursday in National Review.

“That figure comes from the Environmental Protection Agency’s climate model, under a set of assumptions that exaggerate the effects of emissions reductions,” Zycher wrote of the 2/1000 of a degree figure.

Reducing carbon dioxide over years and decades, which a carbon tax does, would have even less of an impact. For comparison, the United Nations projects more than three degrees Celsius of warming — even if major countries meet their global warming goals.

It’s not surprising one U.S. state’s effort to fight global warming would have such a small impact on global temperature. In fact, the Paris agreement “would yield a reduction of 17/100 of a degree,” if fully implemented, Zycher noted.

Washington is one of more than a dozen states pledging to honor the Paris climate accords, that former President Barack Obama’s administration joined in 2016. President Donald Trump, however, announced the U.S. would leave the agreement, that committed the U.S. to cutting greenhouse gas emissions 26 to 28 percent by 2025.

“Those effects, by the way, would be too small to be measured reliably,” Zycher wrote.

But Inslee, a Democrat, is adamant on his state becoming the first to tax carbon dioxide, that scientists blame for global warming.

When announcing his tax, Inslee warned the state only had weeks to save the children from warming.

NOW WATCH:

Inslee proposed a carbon tax plan — his second — in January. The plan would charge large industrial facilities $20 per ton of emissions starting in 2019. The tax would rise 3.5 percent a year above inflation, according to the plan.

“The tax would generate an estimated $1.5 billion in new revenue over the first two years and an estimated $3.3 billion over the next four years,” reads Inslee’s plan. “The policy will also provide incentives that will by the third year generate more than $500 million a year in clean energy investments by utilities.”

About half the carbon tax revenues would go towards “measures that support the transition to a clean energy economy,” like grants for electric buses, green energy incentives and commercializing certain technologies.

Thirty-five percent of the revenue would go towards flood and stormwater management, irrigation and forest fire mitigation. Fifteen percent would go towards poor families, making their homes more efficient and offsetting high energy bills.

There’s also a handout to electric and natural gas utilities in the form of a tax credit to fund things like “electric vehicle charging infrastructure; new renewable energy and energy efficiency resources; and development and commercialization of technologies that otherwise reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the energy sector.”

Inslee’s proposal, however, avoids angering the state’s largest employer — Boeing. Inslee’s tax proposal would not tax jet fuel. When asked why not, Inslee replied, “We have to get the votes to pass the legislation to do this.”

“Whatever Inslee’s spending preferences for the revenues, interest-group competition within the legislature guarantees that good intentions would yield quickly to ordinary pork-barrel politics,” American Enterprise Institute’s Zycher wrote. “With no prospect of environmental improvement and little of real beneficial spending, what is the rationale for a tax on ‘carbon?’ Why not on zucchini?”

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