After months of talk, we finally saw the outlines of Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s “Green New Deal” this week. Hoo boy, is it a doozy.
The New York Democrat’s 14-page resolution aspires to achieve “net-zero greenhouse gas emissions” in just 10 years. It leaves no part of the economy untouched in pursuit of this “massive transformation of our society.”
Among the measures necessary are eliminating air travel, “retrofit[ing] every building in America,” getting rid of cars with combustion engines, building “charging stations everywhere,” and, of course, eradicating fossil fuels and nuclear energy sources entirely.
Oh, and also banning steaks. Cows farts are warming the climate, you guys. Kill all the cows.
Also, you may not have realized that a government-guaranteed job, free education, a house, a union, and free money for those “unwilling to work” (actual quote) are integral to fighting climate change, but according to this resolution, they are. Get woke, people.
In their fact sheet, Ocasio-Cortez and Ed Markey (D-Mass.), who has introduced the U.S. Senate companion, acknowledge that banning air travel and retrofitting every home in America will, you know, cost a lot. But don’t worry, they’ve thought of that. The Federal Reserve will just “extend credit” and “new public banks can be created” to extend more credit! Money. You just print more of the stuff when you need it, right?
As a serious policy proposal, this Green New Deal is as absurd as it is terrifying. “If a bunch of GOPers plotted to forge a fake Democratic bill showing how bonkers the party is,” tweeted Wall Street Journal’s Kimberly Strassel, “they could not have done a better job. It is beautiful.”
But the mocking aside (and, let’s be clear, there is much to mock about a policy proposal that legitimately contemplates bovine flatulence), there are also legitimate policy objections to point out.
Ban All the Cars and Cows? Nothing Will Happen
In an interview with National Public Radio, Ocasio-Cortez called on the United States to “lead” on the solution to global climate change. But the United States already has. So much so that completely eliminating all CO2 emissions in America would moderate warming by—wait for it—less than .02 degrees Celsius by 2100. If the entire industrialized world totally eliminated all CO2 emissions, only .03 degrees Celsius of warming would be averted by the end of the century.
Former Secretary of State John Kerry said it best when speaking at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change:
The fact is that even if every American citizen biked to work, carpooled to school, used only solar panels to power their homes, if we each planted a dozen trees, if we somehow eliminated all of our domestic greenhouse gas emissions, guess what—that still wouldn’t be enough to offset the carbon pollution coming from the rest of the world.
If all the industrial nations went down to zero emissions—it wouldn’t be enough, not when more than 65 percent of the world’s carbon pollution comes from the developing world.
In other words, we can ban cars, steaks, air travel, and fossil fuels—that is, generally impoverish ourselves as a country and make our lives miserable—and it will still have minimal impact on climate change.
We’ll be Woke, But Broke
The Green new deal may drag us all into collective wokeness—but it will do so while sending us into a black hole of brokeness.
Look no further than the domino effect in Europe, which has been after the 100 percent renewable energy pipe dream for decades. Contrary to all those government mandates “creating jobs”—which Ocasio-Cortez claims her Green New Deal would do—the exact opposite has happened.
Spanish researchers in 2009 found that 2.2 jobs were destroyed for every green job created. In the United Kingdom, studies showed that 3.7 jobs in the general economy were lost for every one green job forced into existence by the government. And despite renewable mandates in Germany—literally, a requirement that a growing percentage of the country’s energy comes from renewable sources—employment in the renewable sector continues to decline. Energy prices, on the other hand, have risen by a stunning 70 percent in the more than 15 years these policies have been imposed.
It is well documented by now that mandating the use of renewable energy, which, in many cases, is not economically viable without a substantial government subsidy, raises energy prices.
But that gets to the more insidious aspects of the Green New Deal—renewable policies are regressive. They hit the poor the hardest.
Nowhere is that more amply on display than in the “yellow vest” riots in Paris. Late last year, President Emmanuel Macron imposed a new green fuel tax designed to discourage the use of cars. The French, who already have half of their gross domestic product eaten by up taxes, erupted.
Rural France, which has a shockingly low standard of living, was burdened the most. In poorer households, energy taxes take up a larger percentage of income. And cars, particularly in rural areas, are vital to getting back and forth to work. A Stanford study quantified the costs of climate change regulation, finding that it is ultimately “the lowest income group” who “pays, as a percent of income, more than twice what households in the highest 10 percent of the income distribution pay.”
One wonders if Ocasio-Cortez, a self-proclaimed advocate of the under-privileged, is aware that simple economics require her Green New Deal be financed on the backs of the poor.
The Ocasio-Cortez/Markey resolution is absurd on its face. A bovine holocaust and a ban on air travel are not serious policy proposals designed to spur a substantive debate about our country’s energy policy. But that hasn’t stopped leading Democrats from endorsing the plan.
The shape of the Democratic future is becoming plain: a meatless, car-less, plane-less existence where we shuffle to work every day so that we can pay our gargantuan energy bills and support those “unwilling to work.”