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You can't be the first, but you can be the last

Laboratories of democracy. That's how our Founding Fathers envisioned the states' role in a federalist system of government. Individual states would try different laws and people could respond by "voting with their feet" and leaving or adopting the successful laws in other states. One-size-fits-all governance is rarely a recipe for satisfaction across a large population. Interestingly, as Congress and President-Elect Obama are preparing to enact legislation to restrict US emissions of so-called greenhouse gasses, we can look across the Atlantic at "laboratories of climate change legislation" who have already attempted to reduce CO2 emissions for a preview of what we can expect in the US.

German President Angela Merkel was the country's first Environmental Minister. As such, hopes were high that she would lead the EU towards even more ambitious CO2 restrictions. Merkel is now fighting to reverse key goals that she once championed.

German industry, in particular, has complained that it faces "carbon leakage" -- the relocation of steel, aluminium and cement production to countries much less scrupulous about pollution and free from targets and emissions trading.

Mrs Merkel arrives in Brussels today demanding free carbon credits for 90 to 100 per cent of German factories until 2020 - blowing a hole in a key climate change scheme.

Hmmm...less scrupulous about pollution and free from targets and emissions trading...who could that be? Seems Mrs. Merkel has been mugged by reality:
Jan Kowalzig, a climate change campaigner with Oxfam in Germany, said: "Angela Merkel was the first Environment Minister that Germany ever had. We were surprised at how progressive she was at first but she has now come back more to her conservative party position. In the context of the elections next year, she is giving the impression that German jobs are more important than climate change."

Well you're not going to pay for those generous social programs with an agrarian communal economy. Germany's economy, like the US, has long been driven by heavy manufacturing. Merkel's position clearly demonstrates that carbon rationing is not possible while maintaining economic growth.

One factor unique to the US in relation to Europe is the geographical size of our country. America's size dictates that in the normal course of business operations goods and people must travel long distances. That means a significant portion of our energy use will always be required to move products to market. Lower population density means more people commuting long distances to and from work. Any carbon rationing scheme in the US will result in even higher costs because of this reality.

Facts aren't slowing down the push for budget-busting climate change legislation in Washington. Taking a break from splitting atoms with his mind, designated head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (?!?) John Kerry stated:

The U.S. Senate will let President-elect Barack Obama sign up to a U.N. pact to fight global warming in late 2009 even if U.S. climate laws are not yet in place

Which is a complete 180 from 1997 when Al Gore signed the Kyoto Protocol (which exempted developing nations) despite a 95-0 vote in the Senate passing the Byrd Hagel Resolution declaring the US wouldn't ratify any climate change resolution that exempted developing nations. Thank goodness the Senate has elevated Master of the Obvious (D-Mass) to head up the Foreign Relation Committee, you just can't get a well-thought-out, practical articulation of policy from just anybody. The sharp-as-a-sack-of-wet-mice Kerry went on to explain:
"What's important is that we go to Copenhagen understanding that no treaty is going to pass the U.S. Senate unless it is a global solution. China, India, Russia -- all countries have to be part of the solution"

So what you're saying is the current Senate position is exactly the same as it was in 1997? Zounds, it's almost like Byrd and Hagel never left.

Amazingly, as industry-heavy nations in Europe are maneuvering to exempt themselves from job-crushing carbon limits our newly elected leaders in Congress and the White House are salivating over the prospect of sacrificing the US economy on the altar of global warming. We can only hope Angela Merkel's acceptance of economic reality reverberates across the pond with sensible people in the House and Senate. As with all government programs, once a carbon rationing bureaucracy is in place sending it to the ash heap of history will be impossible.

Posted by Baron Von Ottomatic


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Comments (3)

Seems Mrs. Merkel has... (Below threshold)

Seems Mrs. Merkel has been mugged by reality

Excellent point.

Let's hope a similar mugging takes place in the Senate as they vote on the auto bailout.

Apparently, you don't under... (Below threshold)

Apparently, you don't understand logic. What Kerry was saying was that because the Clinton Administration did not figure in actually getting the treaty ratified by the Senate in their negotiations, Kyoto failed in the U.S. What is new this time, is that the Senate will partner with the Obama Administration to make sure the treaty will have a prayer to pass.

Germany is superior to the U.S. in reducing CO2. Angela Merkel is not backing away from stopping global climate change. These are negotiations after all. Acting like a conservative in Germany has much of anything in common with a Flat Earth conservative in America is preposterous.

li,The underlying ... (Below threshold)
Baron Von Ottomatic:


The underlying political reality is the same now as it was in 1997 - the Senate will not ratify any climate change treaty that exempts India and China. Obama and the Senate can conspire to foist the job-killing monstrosity on the US all they want, when China and India balk it will die with Obama's signature on it just like Kyoto did with Al Gore's.

Considering China is opening a new coal-fired power plant ~ every five days and believes they have every right to be as prosperous as we in the West they aren't going to agree to any sort of carbon rationing at the expense of economic growth.

To the extent Germany is "superior" to the US in reducing CO2, that superiority is based on choosing a baseline year (1990) that predates the collapse of the Soviet Union and subsequent shuttering of industry in the former East Germany. Merkel wants to exempt 90-100% of German industry from carbon limits until 2020. How is that not backing away from climate change?

And what happens in 2020? They just shut down all industry?

Carbon trading has had zero net effect on aggregate EU carbon production, just shuffled carbon intensive industries from the west to the east. The United States would be foolish to indulge in job eradication in a futile effort to address a non-problem.






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Section Editor: Maggie Whitton

Editors: Jay Tea, Lorie Byrd, Kim Priestap, DJ Drummond, Michael Laprarie, Baron Von Ottomatic, Shawn Mallow, Rick, Dan Karipides, Michael Avitablile, Charlie Quidnunc, Steve Schippert

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In Memorium: HughS

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