Global warming alarmists have spent time and money that spans decades and has cost billions of dollars, yet all their tactics and messaging haven’t moved the public-concern meter above “who cares?” So-called “climate change” does not even register near the top of environmental problems that most Americans worry about – much less among all policy issues – according to Gallup polling.
That doesn’t mean the fear-mongers have given up, of course, as the latest effort by environmental pressure group Ceres illustrates. The activist group – which exerts its influence via shareholder activism (claiming $10 trillion in assets) in pursuit of their definition of a “sustainable” global economy – last week sent a letter endorsed by 223 companies to President Obama, in support of EPA’s controversial proposed standard for existing power plants to limit carbon dioxide emissions. Some of the largest and most recognized corporations signed on, including Adidas, IKEA, Kellogg Company, Levi Strauss & Co., Mars Inc., Nestle, Nike, Starbucks, and Symantec – as well as numerous “green”-minded and renewable energy businesses.
“Our support is firmly grounded in economic reality,” the Ceres-engineered letter read. “We know that tackling climate change is one of America’s greatest economic opportunities of the 21st century and we applaud the EPA for taking steps to help the country seize that opportunity.”
The letter signers cite a study – co-published by Ceres (!), Calvert Investments (a manager of “sustainable and responsible” equity funds) and the World Wildlife Fund – as proof that fighting global warming and spending on expensive, inefficient renewable energy are economically beneficial. How so? Because 60 percent of the top global companies have “set a renewable energy goal, a greenhouse gas reduction goal, or both.”
You might think a study that hypes industries’ adoption of windmills and sunshine as electricity generators would explain how their investments in “innovation” benefit the bottom line. But instead it’s the tired old refrain that surrounds renewables: dependence on taxpayer subsidies and government mandates. “Government incentives…have been a key driver for renewable energy investment,” the report says. Instruments such as renewable energy certificates (which are like subsidy coupons), power-purchase agreements, and government incentives – all under a coercive government mandate that utilities buy the costly power they generate – are critical to corporations’ adoption of alternative energy.
So when the “corporate world” touts its approval of the unilateral rule by Obama’s EPA to force power plants to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, it’s part of a top-down regime to create artificial markets that make their feel-good renewable energy “investments” financially supported. It’s no surprise that corporations based on the liberal West Coast such as Levi Strauss, Nestle, Nike and Starbucks – who all have an enviro-reputation to uphold – have joined dozens of renewable energy companies in the Ceres missive. They have their interests to protect.
“The new standards will reinforce what leading companies already know: Climate change poses real financial risks and substantial economic opportunities and we must act now,” the Ceres corporations wrote to President Obama. “We applaud your administration for its commitment to tackling climate change and we encourage your timely pursuit of the finalization and implementation of these standards.”
The EPA rule is highly controversial. A coalition of conservative groups spearheaded by the Competitive Enterprise Institute argued that the so-called “Clean Power Plan” is not implementing law enacted by Congress, but instead is making law itself – a Constitutional violation of separation of powers. They also contend the plan is unlawful as it violates several sections of the Clean Air Act, by applying standards and requirements that the law does not authorize.
“The CPP is illegitimate and unlawful…,” the groups stated in a comment to EPA. “Its implementation costs are likely much greater than EPA estimates. It will increase electricity prices and raises reliability concerns. Its putative climate benefits are illusory. The regulation should be withdrawn.”
In keeping with President Obama’s 2008 promise that electricity rates must “necessarily skyrocket” under his plan to reduce the nation’s use of coal (at the time he was thinking cap-and-trade), EPA estimated the cost of compliance with CPP would be up to $8.8 billion, which the conservative groups said was “implausibly low.” Virginia’s state regulatory agency estimated that just one utility, Dominion Power, would need to spend up to $6 billion to meet its required targets.
And in a report by the Institute for Energy Research, analyst Daniel Simmons noted that EPA failed to estimate the amount of temperature change effected by the CPP. So instead climate scientists Chip Knappenberger and Pat Michaels applied EPA’s model to the plan, and estimated that the amount of heat avoided by the year 2100 would be an infinitesimal .02 degrees Celsius.
The bottom line is the global warming agenda is not about economics or a planet endangered by climate affected by fossil fuel usage. It’s about shaping a government regulatory behemoth to benefit a few actors in the renewable energy industry who cannot make it in a free market.
If groups like Ceres are not badgering the government, then they are harassing businesses. When it comes to climate, the evidence that there’s been no global warming for 18 years, and that the public doesn’t care, does not matter.
Paul Chesser is an associate fellow for the National Legal and Policy Center and publishes CarolinaPlottHound.com, an aggregator of North Carolina news.