“The climate crisis is one of the greatest challenges of our lifetime” - Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr., quoted in the CLEAN Future Act Press Release
According to a 2019 survey of U.S. adults conducted by the Pew Research Center, affordability of healthcare, drug addiction, affordability of college education, and the federal budget deficit all ranked higher than climate change when asked about “very big” problems facing the country.
“But it also presents one of the greatest opportunities to empower American workers with new, good paying jobs and return our economy to a position of strength after a long, dark year of historic job losses and pain.” - Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr.
In classic, problem-reaction-solution Hegelian Dialectic, the CFA offers a “solution” in the form of government intervention amounting to $565 billion by citing a problem that was created at least in part due to hasty, knee-jerk government intervention. The historic job losses and pain could have entirely been avoided - if not certainly minimized - had it not been for the oppressive shutdowns that were imposed in some states.
As an example, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Florida has a COVID-19 case count of around 9,160 per 100,000 residents and 152 deaths per 100,000 residents.
On the other hand, in the state of California, which imposed stricter restrictions on businesses and tightly enforced a statewide mask mandate, the data shows similar case and death counts compared to Florida. According to the CDC data, California has approximately 8,964 COVID-19 cases and at least 141 deaths per 100,000 residents.
In Florida, which has had no statewide mask mandates or restrictions on businesses, more than 1.9 million cases and over 32,000 deaths have been reported. Overall, California has seen more than 3.6 million confirmed cases since the pandemic began as well as at least 56,573 deaths.
“Today’s introduction of the CLEAN Future Act promises that we will not stand idly by as the rest of the world transitions to clean economies...” - Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr.
This claim is demonstrably false, since the U.S. leads the industrialized world in decarbonization. According to the 2019 BP Statistical Review of World Energy, since 2005 annual U.S. carbon dioxide emissions have declined by more than 850 million metric tons. That is by far the largest decline of any country in the world over that timespan and is nearly as large as the 870 million metric ton decline in annual emissions for all of Europe. At the same time, China's carbon dioxide emissions grew by 3.7 billion metric tons, and India's grew by 1.25 billion metric tons.
As an example, see the figure below showing China’s increased reliance on coal of ~3X between 2000 and 2019.
The press release mentions the term “carbon pollution” which is misleading. “Catastrophic consequences” of climate change is also mentioned which is alarmism and not conducive to effective legislation.
There are pollutants released from combustion of fossil fuels such as coal, or diesel. These include sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and particulate matter. These are indeed pollutants, and decades of innovation supported by responsible environmental regulations has reduced such pollution here in the U.S. Meanwhile, such environmental standards do not exist in countries like China on whom the U.S. consumer base is increasingly dependent upon, both in the civilian and the military sector.
Carbon dioxide, on the other hand, is a product of combustion and is a natural byproduct of several biological processes - including breathing! While carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas and in increasing quantities will lead to temperature increases through changes in the Earth’s radiative forcing patterns, there is no long-term data to suggest that this would lead to “catastrophic” climate change as the press release claims. In fact, with regards to the expected economic consequences from climate change, past U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports have stated that “...for most economic sectors, the impact of climate change will be small relative to the impacts of other drivers,” and that “changes in population, age, income, technology, relative prices, lifestyle, regulation, governance and many other aspects of socio-economic development will have an impact on the supply and demand of economic goods and services that is large relative to the impact of climate change.”
A recent review of IPCC baseline estimates compared to observed CO2 emission rates and projections from the oil and gas industry concluded that the IPCC baselines have consistently overestimated emissions.
“The CLEAN Future Act includes sector-specific and economywide solutions to achieve these targets, authorizing $565 billion over ten years to enable deep decarbonization...” - one pager published with CFA announcement
Yale economist and Nobel laureate, William Nordhaus, won the prestigious award for his work on “integrating climate change into long-run macroeconomic analysis." In other words, he analyzed the costs of climate change relative to the cost of implementing climate policy that may come in the form of directly incurred costs, and overall reductions in GDP. Indeed, an informed conversation on climate change can not occur if the discussion focuses solely on the costs from the impacts of climate change, since this is one of two costs in the equation. Costs of damages incurred from climate-related natural disasters is one of the oft-cited statistics to urge climate action. However, as Ohio State University economist Jay Zagorsky points out, “even with inflation adjustment, a key reason we have more costly disasters is simply that the economy is much bigger today” and that “when the economy was smaller disasters caused less economic damage ... as there were fewer homes, factories, and office buildings to destroy.” As it turns out, the coastal population of the U.S. in tropical, hurricane-prone areas has exploded in recent decades Image source.
Despite the growing coastal population and the growth in infrastructure that can be destroyed due to climate disasters, the economic cost of climate disasters as a percentage of GDP has decreased overall. Image source. It is important to note that 2/3rd of global climate disaster losses since 1980 are attributable to landfalling hurricanes in the U.S. - consistent with the rise in coastal population and infrastructure.
While climate change will have an impact on the global economy, it would not be the sort of harrowing apocalypse that many climate alarmists like to conjure up. As mentioned earlier, the IPCC’s language on this is pretty unambiguous, in that, the relative impact of climate change will be small in comparison to changes in other socioeconomic and technological factors as it relates to the welfare of everyday people.
Implementing climate policy also has a real cost - one that escalates with every proposal for stricter regulations in order to achieve more lofty targets. Nordhaus’ work has focused on egalitarian welfare and a cost-benefit analysis point of view to find the lowest overall cost to society from both the effects of climate change and cost of implementing policy propositions.
The UN’s best estimates of the cost of unmitigated global warming by the year 2100 is ~4% of global GDP. While this is a problem, it is not an emergency! In our eagerness to enact climate policies, we could easily end up making the world worse off -- even if we tackle climate smartly, the policies could end up costing as much as 16% of global GDP or more. Meanwhile there are other, more pressing issues that are killing people today and have yet to be addressed meaningfully.
TITLE I — NATIONAL CLIMATE TARGET
First title sets national climate goals of 50% decarbonization relative to 2005 levels by 2030, and 100% “clean energy economy” no later than 2050.
Following the failure of the much-lauded 1997 Kyoto protocol, it would be ill-advised to set lofty domestic emissions targets with no global enforcements.
To recap: The Kyoto protocol split the world into developed and developing nations where the rich ones were to adopt legally binding targets: the E.U., for example, was to reduce emissions 8% by 2012. China and India got a pass despite having large populations since their per capita emissions were much lower compared to rich nations and they were still growing. What followed was a failure of epic proportions! The U.S. refused to ratify the treaty, and Senators rightfully complained that with no emissions restrictions on China, U.S. factories would simply move there. George W. Bush formally withdrew from Kyoto in 2001. Soon thereafter, Canada failed to hit its targets and also withdrew without any penalties. Most European nations, Japan, and New Zealand did stay in the treaty, although it made little difference. In the years since, countries like China and India have grown at an incredible rate and burned so much coal that global emissions have soared, swamping the meager cuts that rich countries made.
In the chart below, it is difficult to deduce any impact that Kyoto may have had on global CO2 emissions.
Here, it is worthwhile to consider the effects of setting domestic emissions targets and strictly enforcing them through government regulation. Germany provides a great comparison point with their Energiewende program.
In 2000, Germany launched a deliberately targeted national program to decarbonize - a plan more ambitious than anything seen anywhere else. The policy, called Energiewende, accompanies the rise of the Green Party and public opposition to nuclear power. These attitudes are not shared by the country’s two large neighbors: France and Poland. France built the world’s leading nuclear industrial complex with hardly any public opposition, meanwhile Poland is content with burning coal.
In 2019, Germany's Federal Court of Auditors determined the program had cost €160 billion over the last 5 years and criticized the expenses for being “in extreme disproportion to the results.” Despite widespread initial support, the program is perceived as “expensive, chaotic and unfair,” and a “massive failure” as of 2019. The U.S. cut emissions by just as much but without requiring the ridiculous government spending or repressive domestic energy policy. Image source.
Germany meanwhile has some of the highest electricity costs in Europe - almost twice that of France. In fact, there is a significant correlation between cost of electricity and renewable energy adoption rates. Image source.
A similar correlation has been shown to exist for states in the U.S. where the retail cost of electricity has grown as solar and wind increasingly penetrated the generation mix.
With as many as 29 states and Washington D.C. having adopted Renewable Portfolio Standards, there has been an increase in retail cost of electricity to consumers while insignificant reductions in CO2 have been observed.
TITLE II — POWER
With 100% zero-carbon electricity still in the distant future, this title in the bill introduces “zero-emission electricity trading credits.”
The function of these credits is to make reliable energy providers who are otherwise profitable to pay out to highly unreliable and inefficient green energy providers in the retail energy sector in hopes of making green energy profitable and increase adoption. However, given the intermittency of most renewable energy sources, and ergo their inability to consistently meet demand during peak hours, such credits will only go toward adding complexity in the distribution systems and increasing costs to consumers.
It is also instructive to observe the real-world effects of Renewable Energy Certificates. Big tech companies such as Apple and Google claim that they are either already powered by 100% renewable energy or are close to getting there. This is because a plant that sells renewable energy to the grid is awarded an REC for every MWh of clean power that it generates. It is also interesting to note that RECs, functioning as market-based trading instruments, are supposed to represent the property rights to “environmental, social, and other non-power attributes” of renewable energy. The company that owns that plant can then sell these RECs to other companies — this is intended to incentivize the development of clean power sources, and allows the purchasers to claim that the renewable energy was generated on their behalf. The term used to describe companies engaging in practices like this is “greenwashing.”
Only problem - in practice this does not work as well as anticipated. RECs are supposed to be a revenue source for renewable energy producers that helps them produce more renewable energy. But that is not always the case. The REC market is independent of the electricity market and is generally in oversupply in most U.S. states, with the average cost of an REC remaining lower than $1/MWh for most of the last decade.
This makes RECs so cheap that they do not amount to a meaningful revenue source for renewable energy producers - and they make insignificant contributions to additional investments in green energy. Buying RECs also does not mean that companies are reducing their use of fossil fuels or avoiding carbon emissions. A zero-emission electricity trading credit would lead to much of the same while increasing transmission complexity and thus cost of electricity to consumers.
TITLE III — EFFICIENCY
Trying to legislate efficiency into law has been known to be an ineffective means of reducing resource consumption since the early 1800s. This phenomenon has a name - Jevons paradox!
Of course, the onset of this phenomenon is dependent on the supply-demand curves for any given commodity. As an everyday example, economists have observed that increases in fuel efficiency for cars leads to increased travel which increases demand for fuel. Another study showed that regulating energy efficiency is more regressive than energy taxes in the U.S.
Despite enforcing strict efficiency standards for cars, the E.U. has not been able to significantly curb emissions from vehicles. While emissions from electricity have reduced slightly, it has come at a disproportionate cost to consumers, as discussed in the previous section. Recently, the European Federation for Transport and Environment discussed in its report that gains made from enforcing efficiency standards were being offset by trends of “bigger, heavier, and higher performance” cars. The report blamed carmakers and their “pursuit of higher profit margins.” The report also extensively mentioned the strict efficiency and emissions standards that Europe set more than a decade ago. It turns out, ironically, that the emissions standards set by E.U. lawmakers have priced small cars out of the market.
In the 80s, Jevons paradox was revisited in regards to energy use in the U.S., particularly with respect to home appliance efficiency standards being adopted in California.
The hypothesis that improvements in energy efficiency work to increase energy consumption is known as the Khazzoom–Brookes postulate and has been broadly shown to be supported by neoclassical growth theory - the mainstream theory of technological progress, capital accumulation, and economic growth that is the working principle of the current U.S. economy. Example study.
According to economist Harry Saunders, increased energy efficiency increases energy consumption in two ways. First, increases in energy efficiency makes the use of energy relatively cheaper. This encourages increased use as shown above with fuel efficiency of cars - known as the rebound effect. Second, increased energy efficiency increases work done with the same energy and thus increases real incomes and leads to increased economic growth. This pulls up energy use for the whole economy.
At the microeconomic level looking at individual markets, even with the rebound effect, improvements in energy efficiency usually result in reduced energy consumption. That is, the rebound effect is usually less than 100%. However, at the macroeconomic level, more efficient and hence comparatively cheaper energy use leads to faster economic growth, which increases energy use throughout the economy. Saunders argues that taking into account both microeconomic and macroeconomic effects, the technological progress that improves energy efficiency will tend to increase overall energy use.
Much of this title deals with increasing building efficiency codes by making use of better lighting, heating, air conditioning, etc. The title also includes provisions for rebates for various energy efficiency appliances, including for replacing some appliances. Since the bill eventually delves into transportation as well, it would be well served to include the oft-referenced car lifecycle CO2 emissions to illustrate the idea of “sunk carbon costs” and “hidden emissions.”
When someone thinks about emissions from cars, it’s a fair bet that they are picturing a gas-guzzling SUV driving down the highway with one passenger. Often overlooked is the process of extraction, mining, and manufacturing that goes into constructing new vehicles, as well as the amount of energy required in the process - nearly all of which currently comes from hydrocarbons.
The carbon footprint of manufacturing a car is complex. From digging ores out of the ground and conducting metallurgy, to manufacturing parts, transporting and assembling them - there are quite a few sources of carbon in making a car. Many components have to be brought together like rubber tires, upholstery, electronics, and even paints. This involves a global supply chain with complex transportation and logistics networks. Every stage in the process requires energy. Additionally, car companies have offices and other infrastructure with their own carbon footprints, which must also be allocated proportionally to the cars that are manufactured. However, given that the manufacturing stages of a car are somewhat invisible to consumers, people tend to forget about the impact on the environment from vehicle production. As long as primary energy of the world is predominantly served through hydrocarbon sources, there is no escaping these facts.
According to the EPA, the average passenger car in the U.S. emits ~4.6 metric tons of CO2, annually. Author Mike Berners-Lee contends that the carbon footprint from manufacturing a car rivals its lifetime tailpipe emissions. His work estimated that the manufacturing of a basic spec Citroen C1 - a 67hp, four-door hatchback sold in the E.U. - emits 6 tons of CO2. The same estimate placed the carbon footprint of a brand new fully-spec’d Land Rover Discovery at 35 tons of CO2. He contends that for each mile driven, the embodied emissions of a Land Rover that ends up being scrapped after 100,000 miles may be as much as four times higher than the tailpipe emissions of a Citroen C1. With that in mind, he suggests that unless one needs to travel long distances regularly, or if they own a real gas-guzzler, it generally makes sense to keep old cars for as long as they are reliable. If a car lasts 200,000 miles instead of 100,000, the emissions for each mile the car is driven in its lifetime drops by as much as 50%, due to the initial manufacturing emissions. Extending vehicle lifetimes to reduce carbon emissions is also supported by empirical studies.
Coming back to the idea of enforcing efficiency in building codes, a recent analysis of rental units in 10 U.S. cities concluded that efficient features increased rent anywhere from 6% to 14%. The slightly reduced CO2 emissions are offset by increase in rents. Here again, there are hidden CO2 emissions in the manufacturing of energy-efficient appliances, although they may be lower as a fraction of emissions from usage than in the case of cars.
TITLE IV — TRANSPORTATION
As mentioned in the previous section on Efficiency, there are embodied emissions in the manufacturing of energy-efficient vehicles. Therefore, a forced transition program, no matter how subsidized it may be, at any level may not yield substantial overall reductions in emissions for the dollars spent.
While electric vehicles (EV) do not have any tailpipe emissions, they do embody significant emissions in their manufacturing. Overall, if hydrocarbon electricity is used to charge an electric vehicle, the best case is an emissions reduction relative to a gas-powered vehicle of ~50%. Of course, as the electricity generation mix continues to decarbonize, the emissions from use of existing EVs and that from construction of new EVs will reduce. However, this is a long-term evolution of the larger electricity generation system that should occur naturally, as has been the case in the U.S. over the last two decades without requiring the far-reaching government intervention being proposed in the CFA.
TITLE V — INDUSTRY
It is laudable that embodied emissions in the production of ubiquitous construction material such as cement, steel, glass etc. is finally being recognized. Steps should be taken to ensure that lifecycle analysis does not burden startups and small businesses, but rather is conducted predominantly by larger businesses who exert considerable influence over their supply chains.
Interesting to note, however, is that the forms of generation being heavily promoted - solar, wind, and hydro - are the worst offenders in terms of requiring these carbon-intensive resources.
It is not surprising, therefore, that natural gas plants have some of the lowest overnight capital costs.
With natural gas, the high cost of the fuel in the 90s along with technological advances led to widespread adoption of hydraulic fracturing and directional drilling techniques which in turn had the effect of making the fuel cheaper. As a result, natural gas has increasingly replaced coal in the electricity market in the last couple of decades and is the main driver of reductions in American CO2 emissions.
The figure below compares lifetime emissions and land intensity of various energy sources, and it is clear that nuclear power offers the best of both worlds. Advanced nuclear (indicated with an A) promises even higher energy density and lower lifecycle CO2 emissions. However, the nuclear power sector is saddled with regulations that have, at least in part, prevented a similar response to economic pressures as seen with fracking and natural gas. A recent study evaluating global nuclear construction costs found that increased regulations in America offset gains from the “learn-by-doing” effect and led to increased construction costs and lead times.
It must therefore be recognized that without a significant contribution from a zero-carbon and resource-efficient energy source such as conventional and advanced nuclear reactors, there is no viable pathway to reducing carbon emissions to the extent that is being promoted by global climate agreements such as the Paris Climate Accords.
All of the scenarios considered by the IPCC require significant addition of nuclear power to transition to a zero-carbon economy. Even the perennially anti-nuclear Union of Concerned Scientists admits that a zero-carbon economy is impossible without contribution from nuclear.
As with Kyoto before it, the Paris Climate Accords are unfortunately little more than a symbolic gesture of recognizing the role of CO2 in regulating some aspects of global climate. The emissions restrictions to be adopted are voluntary for most nations while the U.S. and E.U. push for deep decarbonization at home. As described earlier, this will have little impact on reducing global greenhouse gas emissions while eliminating many sectors of Western economies. A recent cost-benefit analysis of the UN’s sustainable development goals concluded that inefficient renewable energy, promotion of energy efficiency, and efforts to meet the 2 degrees-C target ranked among the lowest in socioeconomic and environmental benefits returned per dollar invested.
In fact, the pledges made in the Paris Climate Accords will have little impact on reducing global temperature rise, as only about 60 gigatons of CO2 will cumulatively be curtailed by 2030. Meanwhile, various studies suggest that ~6,400 gigatons of CO2 will need to be curtailed by 2100 to keep the warming to below 1.5 degrees celsius.
TITLE VI — ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE
The term environmental justice shows up more that 120 times in the bill text. Various other terms such as “climate justice” are also used interchangeably.
While it is noble to want to do right by people who are most vulnerable to the anticipated economic impacts of climate change, government intervention will only serve to increase cost of consumption and reduce competitiveness of U.S. industries in the global economy which would hurt job growth.
It is instructive then to briefly look at the effects of previously implemented clean energy tax incentives and programs in the U.S. According to a 2016 study by economists at UC Berkeley that was sponsored by the National Bureau of Economic Research, more than 60% of the tax incentives from federal clean energy programs went to the top quintile. Most egregious were tax credits from electric vehicle adoption programs where more than 90% of the benefits went to the top quintile.
Where then is the “justice” proclaimed here being afforded to the more than one hundred million taxpayers who saw little benefit from green energy tax credits. These taxes subsidized purchases for wealthy Americans - those who could most afford them. Meanwhile, billions in tax dollars that could have been used to fund other government programs aimed at pollution, healthcare, education, environmental conservation etc. were lost to ideological green adoption programs.
While “renewable” energy plants like solar photovoltaic or onshore wind turbines do not require fuel once installed, their construction does require large inputs of critical minerals that are not mined in the U.S.
The 981-page text of the CLEAN Future Act legislation makes almost no mention of the minerals needed to achieve these lofty goals. The word lithium shows up only once. Meanwhile, graphite, cobalt, rare-earth elements etc. are not mentioned anywhere.
Lithium, graphite, and cobalt are all necessary inputs in batteries used in everything from mobile phones to electric cars. The U.S. can provide for an environmentally-friendly and economically viable domestic supply chain but there is no political movement while environmental regulations continue to stifle genuine progress. More than 70% of the cobalt, meanwhile, is mined in the Democratic Republic of Congo - a country with an annual per capita GDP of $600 - with child labor in dangerous working conditions. China, on the other hand, enjoys an uncontested monopoly on rare-earth minerals - controlling more than 90% of global supply. In the past, China has used this dominance to bully other nations.
In all cases, the U.S. has domestic production capacity that can be harnessed in environmentally responsible and economic ways. But excessive regulations continue to prevent investment. For example, a National Mining Association study reported that processing of mining permits takes five times longer in the U.S. than in Canada or Australia - countries that have equally stringent environmental regulations. Similar regulatory inefficiency is blamed for why American industry became increasingly dependent on China for rare-earth minerals.
Meanwhile, the net effect of government regulation has been lowered environmental standards overall, and the exodus of a critical industry out of the U.S. The Chinese rare-earth industry is widely known for being environmentally destructive. What was a reasonable industry that could have used some light touch regulation, instead was forced out of the country at almost precisely the same time when the market for rare-earths exploded globally.
Moreover, China is increasingly offshoring its own mining industry while controlling the refining industry. The CCP is mopping up mining rights all around the world for mines whose product is destined to refineries in China. This way, the most important parts of the supply chain are still under Chinese control while the environmental liability from mining is offshored.
Continuing on the same path would ultimately lead to a sort of “green imperialism” where rich countries extract valuable minerals from poorer countries and offshore land-intensive power generation in the name of environmentalism and climate change. It is reasonable to argue that as demand for minerals such as lithium and cobalt soar, countries which possess large reserves of these minerals will increasingly seek to nationalize their resources (as was recently the case with Mexico).
TITLE VIII — ECONOMY-WIDE POLICIES
This title lays out policy propositions to modify and enforce emission standards for various greenhouse gases with far-reaching implications for the economy at large.
As discussed earlier, it makes little sense to enact and enforce regulations for greenhouse gases at home while we continue to rely heavily on the world’s biggest polluter for most of our goods. China’s ambitions are clear, and there is recent historical evidence along with plenty of economic analysis to suggest that enacting stringent emission standards in the U.S. without extracting binding commitment from other nations - especially those that are our military and economic adversaries - is inadvisable and destined for failure.
Economy-wide policies that the government can enact should focus on simplifying the tax code, enforcing existing antitrust regulations, and promoting a 100% GDP increase within the next decade with an “all of the above” energy strategy. This would make the U.S. economy more resilient to climate change and provide America with the tax base necessary to subsidize clean energy policies abroad.
TITLE VIII — Subtitle B. Clean Energy and Sustainability Accelerator
Perhaps of greatest concern of all the legislative proposals in the CFA is the plan to create an “Accelerator” for investing in sustainable energy and for aiding the clean energy transition. The proposed accelerator, however, relies on taxation and redistribution. It is to be administered by a panel of politicians and will oversee a fund of $100 billion.
If politicians could allocate capital more efficiently than individuals or corporations acting in a free market economy, then the U.S. flag would have been emblazoned by a hammer and sickle many generations ago. The proposition to establish an Accelerator is rooted in the best of intentions, as is the rest of the bill, however this proposition is particularly concerning due to its centrally planned economy approach. The Accelerator would comprise a board of seven politicians - three presidential appointees and four selected by the three appointees - who will make decisions to invest $100 billion appropriated from the U.S. Treasury. It is not too far-fetched to suggest that the selection process will become political and the investing decisions of the board may likely reward projects with politically connected backers rather than those with technological merit.
The $100 billion fund will draw from tax money that could otherwise be spent elsewhere in more economically and socially beneficial ways. Moreover, unlike private investors whose aim is to further invest in productive opportunities and offload bad investments, the Accelerator bearing no risk of failure could continue to invest in unproductive technologies or forego productive ones due to biases. Then there is the risk of discouraging private investment. With a $100 billion fund, projects would be drawn away from private investment and towards the Accelerator. With no incentives to earn returns, the Accelerator could always offer more favorable terms than private investors. This could drive out private investment from clean energy where investments are at an all-time high. Conversely, if the Accelerator does see success, companies that were unable to secure funding from the Accelerator but otherwise possess technological merit would find themselves unable to attract private funding. All in all, the $100 billion in public investment will be offset by losses in private investment. If these private investment losses exceed $100 billion, then the Accelerator would have a net-negative effect on investment in a burgeoning field - not any different than the results of previous government interventions as described throughout this document.
TITLE IX — WASTE REDUCTION
It is counterintuitive to discuss waste reduction after much of the bill has discussed means by which the government can accelerate adoption of the latest energy-efficient vehicles and appliances which will inevitably lead to large amounts of non-recyclable waste.
Then there is the vast amounts of non-recyclable waste generated from the disposal of decommissioned solar panels and wind turbines that is accumulating across the country. For illustration, the figure below shows the largest offshore wind turbine compared to some famous structures. That is a lot of molded fiberglass-balsa wood composite fused with non-recyclable resin that is destined for landfills without any remedy in sight.
The CFA proposes large-scale government intervention in the economy to aggressively reduce U.S. emissions of greenhouse gases.
While the CFA can be lauded for making an attempt to put forth bold policy proposals when the discussion around climate change has been mostly rhetorical, there are many missteps here that make the overall package largely impractical. Enacting laws to curb emissions domestically will have little impact on global emissions if the rest of the world does not match these reductions. The CFA would be much better off focusing on removing barriers to investments in clean energy and simplifying the regulatory landscape rather than the current approach of bundling disparate policy proposals into a large bill with far-reaching impacts. The bill contains several sensible proposals that can be negotiated and passed in a bipartisan manner to build momentum on addressing climate concerns. Such an incremental policy approach will create an atmosphere of lively debate to evaluate provisions which could lead to the implementation of low-cost climate policy first and help build confidence in both lawmakers and public to pursue more bold legislation. Only a framework of cooperation from both parties will lead to sustained progress on the issue of climate change. This can become possible only if the alarmist rhetoric is cut back and a sensible discussion of the data is undertaken to enact policies that will make the American economy more resilient to impacts from climate-related events and make the average American more prosperous and thus less susceptible.