by Jon Sanders
Research Editor and Senior Fellow, Regulatory Studies, John Locke Foundation
Since the start of the 21st century, energy-based emissions have been falling dramatically in North Carolina, thanks to market forces.
Oddly despite all that, Gov. Roy Cooper issued an Executive Order this week to “Address Climate Change and Transition to a Clean Energy Economy.” I’ll be discussing the ramifications and limitations of this EO in future posts (hint: lots of cronyism, believe it or not), but here I would like to address the huge flaw in the governor’s reasoning from the outset.
Think about the big picture here. The governor wishes to use executive authority to alter the climate. That is the stuff of comic books.
The State of North Carolina occupies an area that amounts to about 27 one-hundred-thousandths (0.00027) of the surface of the Earth. We could cease all productive activity and emissions and still have no impact on the planet. We could all disappear like the Lost Colony and the global climate wouldn’t change a whit.
The idea that we could save the climate by cutting our emissions reductions just a mite faster than we already have been doing for two decades is daft.
The State of North Carolina is part of the United States of America. The U.S. could also cease all productive activity and emissions yet have no impact on the planet.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s own metrics, had the Obama-era “Clean Power Plan” been put into place, here’s how much of future temperature rise it would have averted by 2100: only 0.018 degrees Celsius.
Less than 0.02 degrees Celsius is an indistinguishable change. You’d have to extend past the decimal point to the hundredths in order for it not to be counted as zero.
In 2014, then-Secretary of State John Kerry told an audience at Johns Hopkins University this: “Even if every single American biked to work or carpooled to school or used only solar panels to power their homes – if we reduced our emissions to zero, if we planted each of us in America a dozen trees, if we somehow eliminated all of our domestic greenhouse gas emissions, guess what? That still wouldn’t be enough to counteract the carbon pollution coming from China and the rest of the world.”
That said, the U.S. is leading the world in emissions reductions, again thanks to market-driven factors. Yes, it’s true, the U.S. is not part of the Paris climate accords. Supposedly that’s a reason behind Cooper’s EO. But it is clear the U.S. is outperforming all the other nations who are.
Overall U.S. CO2 emissions are at their lowest level since 1992.
U.S. CO2 emissions per capita are at their lowest level since 1950. So why act as if Paris matters?
Furthermore, many of the major players in the world aren’t just trailing the U.S. in emission reductions, they’re still increasing their emissions. Some by a tremendous amount. Look at China, look at India, and hello, look at the European Union.
Whatever reduction in emissions we make in the great State of 0.00027th of the Earth, they’re being obliterated immediately by those belching giants.
So there can be no reasonable expectation of measurable climate impact from this or any EO. Cooper’s order is a futile gesture that seems more inspired by virtue-signaling, base pandering, crony greasing, and PAC pleasing.