By John McClaughry
My friend Marlo Lewis of the Competitive Enterprise Institute writes that after a speech opposing the Curbelo carbon tax bill in Congress, a reporter asked him for his views on climate change. Marlo replied, “The most important issue in climate change research is climate sensitivity” — how much long-term warming results from a doubling of carbon dioxide-equivalent greenhouse gas concentration.
In its 2007 report, the UN IPCC concluded that 3°C was the “best estimate” of climate sensitivity. But in its 2013 report, IPCC said climate sensitivity is “likely” to range from 1.5°C to 4.5° Centigrade. That was also the likely range in the IPCC’s First Report in 1990. No improvement in accuracy over 27 years.
During the Obama administration, the Environmental Protection Agency developed a climate policy impact estimator called MAGICC, which allows us to calculate the decrease in average global temperature from any quantity of emission reductions under alternative climate sensitivity guestimates.
Even assuming high sensitivity, the Curbelo carbon tax bill would avert warming of less than three hundredths of a degree Centigrade by 2050, well below the MAGICC program’s eleven hundredths of a degree error range. That means the bill’s maximum climate impact is literally undetectable.
Yet to achieve such inconsequential results, the Curbelo bill would force a household of four to spend about $1,000 more each year for gasoline and utilities, and hit the U.S. economy with $800 billion-plus in new taxes, according to the Columbia University report promoting the plan.
That’s a really dumb idea, and the argument for a Vermont carbon tax is even dumber.
John McClaughry is vice president of the Ethan Allen Institute. Reprinted with permission from the Ethan Allen Institute Blog.