Consumer Group Reacts to President’s Global Warming Speech: A Tax by any Other Name Smells Just As Foul

Global warming mania went into overdrive today as President Clinton unveiled his plan to deal with the as yet unproven threat of global warming, a market-oriented consumer advocacy group charged today.

“The president is wrong to claim that global warming science is complete and that there is unanimous agreement among qualified climate scientists concerning the threat of global warming,” says Paul Beckner, president of Citizens for a Sound Economy. Citing a recent American Viewpoint survey of U.S. state climatologists in which 58 percent of those surveyed said they disagreed with President Clinton’s claim that “global warming is for real,” Beckner argues that American workers and their families are being needlessly forced to lower their standard of living for the “sake of a solution in search of a problem.”

Reacting to the president’s plan to enact a carbon-emission trading program, Beckner argues that carbon trading constitutes “hidden taxes” in that measures such as carbon and energy taxes raise the effective price of fossil-fuel use for everyone.

According to Beckner, “The American people should not be fooled by an emissions-trading scheme that has the words ‘market-based’ attached to it. If it walks like tax — and bites like a tax — it’s a tax. “Such a trading scheme would also cripple our economic growth by permanently limiting our industrial output. The administration has already admitted that.”

According to the economic consulting firm, WEFA Inc., the GDP lost from reducing emissions to 1990 levels — just in the year 2010 — is equal to 227 billion 1992 dollars. That is approximately equal to total federal, state and local expenditures on elementary and secondary education.

Addressing the President’s assertion that developing nations will have to become “meaningfully involved” in carbon reductions, Beckner wonders, “What does that mean? We are still faced with a situation in which the United States will be legally bound to bear the brunt of emissions reductions under hard targets and timetables — the developing nations are being held to no such binding commitments.” CSE has argued in recent months that the exemption of developing nations such as China, India and Brazil will create powerful incentives for U.S. industry to export jobs and capital to those countries with no reduction commitments.

Says Beckner, “Without the absolute and unconditional commitment of the developing world to the same carbon-reduction requirements U.N. negotiators are seeking to impose on the developed world, the effort to halt global warming will be fruitless.” According to the Clinton administration, as much as 70 percent of world greenhouse-gas emissions will come from developing countries over the next few decades.

“Even with their commitment, the legitimate climate scientists as well as the environmental groups are saying it will change nothing,” Beckner says in citing the American Viewpoint survey. Six out of 10 climatologists disagreed that actions by developed nations to reduce man-made carbon dioxide emissions by 15 percent below 1990 levels will prevent global temperatures from rising. “President Clinton’s plan,” which calls for reductions to 1990 levels by 2012, “doesn’t even do that,” observes Beckner.

“It remains to be seen why President Clinton is seriously considering this economically suicidal plan,” Beckner concludes.

Citizens for a Sound Economy is a 250,000-member free market-oriented grassroots advocacy group based in Washington, D.C.