LC 894: doing nothing

Legislative Concept 894 wasn’t released until yesterday. The major bill that Oregon Democrats want to pass first is still in the oven, but even the ingredients for the latest attempt to pass cap and trade remained secret when the legislative session began. That ought to be a red flag for everybody.

The goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions “to at least 45 percent below 1990 emissions levels by 2035 and to at least 80 percent below 1990 emissions levels by 2050.” In other words, it seeks to have zero impact on climate change.

It will not be hard for the sponsors of whatever bill this legislative concept becomes to get leading scientists to testify about the reality of anthropogenic global warming. But they will be hard-pressed to find a reputable scientist that will stake his reputation on the claim that passage of this bill would have a material effect on climate change.

One does not need to have a Phd to do this math. Just take out a calculator, and follow these steps (using 2017’s data):

Enter the amount of carbon human activity in Oregon emits today (65 million metric tons).

Subtract from that the amount of carbon Oregon would be allowed to emit in 2050 (11.2 metric tons).

Divide that number by the amount of carbon emitted globally (32,580.4 metric tons).

What does that give you? Effectively zero!

Think about what this result demonstrates. The legislation seeks to get us down to 80% of Oregon’s 1990 emission level by 2050, hoping to slowly ease into the cost, but that also significantly reduces its effect on climate change.

My math problem here is far more radical. Imagine how much it would have cost Oregon’s economy if we were to have met that 2050 goal in 2017. For all that pain it would only mean reducing global CO2 emissions by less than a quarter of one percent, meaning we would still suffer all the harms of climate change, which will still occur anyway, and we would have simply impoverished ourselves on top of that.

Eric Shierman lives in Salem and is the author of We were winning when I was there.