by Jon Sanders
Director of the Center for Food, Power, and Life, Research Editor | John Locke Foundation
Orange County Commissioners have voted to raise property taxes by 1/4-cent in order to “combat climate change.”
Before delving into 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 surface of the planet. 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.”
Potential items include:
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?
For that matter, is there anything Orange County could do 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 a little more expensive to live in the county.
And what will taxpayers be buying? Nothing. But county leaders being able to say we have a plan to mitigate climate change.
Is Orange County an enemy to the planet’s climate? That, too, is a no.
To the extent that emissions are responsible for climate change, recall that Orange County is part of North Carolina, a state whose emissions from energy generation have fallen — dramatically — all century long.
As part of North Carolina, Orange County is also part of the United States, the nation leading the world in reducing emissions:
The real problem is that all the climate good Orange County is already doing is being obliterated in minutes by the emissions fuming forth from the likes of China, India, Turkey, the European Union, and others.
Orange County leaders stand a better chance of producing some climate impact by sending strongly worded missives to China, India, Turkey, the European Union et al. telling them to get their acts together. Plus, it shouldn’t require higher property taxes to do that.