As part of North Carolina, Orange County is in a state whose emissions from energy generation have fallen — dramatically — all century long.

By extension, Orange County is a part of the United States, the nation leading the world in reducing emissions.

Nevertheless, Orange County Commissioners voted to raise property taxes by 1/4-cent in order to “combat climate change.”

Before delving any further in the details, let’s take a look at the big picture. Orange County, North Carolina, occupies 401 square miles. The globe whose climate this tax increase is intended to affect occupies 196,900,000 square miles.

So Orange County is 0.000002 of the surface of the Earth. That’s 2 millionths of the size of the Earth. What could something that infinitesimal do to change the world’s climate — using a quarter-cent property tax increase?

The implied rationale for the tax increase is provided in a quotation from The Guardian (U.K.) in an article entitled “We have 12 years to limit climate change catastrophe, warns UN.” Another reason could be that, “As a signatory to the Global Covenant of Mayors, the County is expected to produce a Climate Action Plan within the next 2 years.”

Items include:

  • $150,000 per year on weatherization programs
  • Up to $100,000 to devise the “Climate Action Plan” that would “provide robust information to inform the County’s transition to renewable energy and other GHG emission reduction activities”
  • Install rooftop solar on county buildings (estimates from 2017 for three buildings came in at over $820,000)
  • Slight increase in construction costs by focusing on energy conservation and renewable energy installation in new county buildings
  • Hire third parties to analyze, recommend, and upfit existing county buildings with “adjustments needed to restore the building’s [energy] performance to its original performance or better” (estimated cost of $0.75 to $2.00 per square foot)
  • Use performance contracting (presumed revenue-neutral but would “require a significant amount of staff time to coordinate with contractors and with departments”)

So, are these the policies in a 401-square-mile area that is keeping the world from narrowly averting catastrophe? Would they do anything to move the climate needle at all?

Could Orange County do anything to influence the world’s climate, with or without resorting to higher taxes? Do the math; the answer is a clear no.

The costs of it will have impacts, though. It will make it more expensive to live in the county.

And what will people be buying? Nothing but county leaders being able to say we have a plan to mitigate climate change.