Cut Carbon Through Innovation, Not Regulation

By  John Barrasso, New York Times, Friday, December 18.

Leaders from nearly 200 countries met in Katowice, Poland, last week and agreed to rules to carry out the Paris climate accord. Now that the 22,000 delegates have returned home, there are three truths they need to recognize to make actual progress in the hard work of lowering carbon dioxide emissions across the globe.

The first is, the climate is changing and we, collectively, have a responsibility to do something about it. Second, the United States and the world will continue to rely on affordable and abundant fossil fuels, including coal, to power our economies for decades to come. And third, innovation, not new taxes or punishing global agreements, is the ultimate solution.

People across the world are rejecting the idea that carbon taxes and raising the cost of energy is the answer to lowering emissions. In France, the government just suspended a planned fuel tax increase after some of its citizens took to the streets in protest. And in the United States, the results of November elections showed that these plans and other government interventions are just as unpopular.

Voters in Washington State rejected the creation of an expensive tax on carbon emissions. In Colorado, a ballot measure to severely restrict drilling was defeated. And in Arizona, voters rejected a mandate to make the state’s utilities much more dependent on renewable energy by 2030 — regardless of the cost to consumers. All three of these states elected liberal Democrats to Congress on election night.

The United States is currently on track to reduce emissions to 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2025, according to one recent analysis. That’s roughly two-thirds of the way to the original United States target under the Paris climate agreement.

The nation is leading the way not because of punishing regulations, restrictive laws or carbon taxes but because of innovation and advanced technology, especially in the energy sector.

Over the past decade, American energy-related carbon dioxide emissions have been falling. Technology breakthroughs have led to an American energy renaissance and a growing economy. As our economy has strengthened, we have lowered emissions.

While the United States cut its emissions in 2017, global emissions moved in the opposite direction. Emission levels increased in China and India, and even rose in the European Union in 2017.

Making energy as clean as we can, as fast as we can, without raising costs to consumers will be accomplished through investment, invention and innovation.

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