Fletcher in the News

California’s Clean-Energy Future: A ‘Medieval Society’? Prof. Everett Weighs In

The California legislature passed in July an extension of the state’s carbon dioxide cap-and-trade program, which Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law.

Brown has called for an international climate summit next September in San Francisco, and Senate President Kevin de Leon has pushed for a law that would virtually outlaw fossil fuel use in power plants after 2045.

The cap-and-trade legislation, Assembly Bill 398, demands that greenhouse gas emissions be cut to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. It is an extension of the cap-and-trade program that initially required greenhouse gas emissions to be reduced to 1990 levels by 2020.

Bruce Everett, a Tufts University professor who specializes in energy and environmental policy, told TheDC that a “little common sense . . . suggests that California’s climate policies will have some negative effects on the state’s economy.”

While “the impacts of climate policy are difficult to isolate from the effects of other anti-business policies, such as high taxes and extensive regulations,” Everett says that “California’s climate policies have the effect of raising energy costs in a state that is already losing part of its economic base, particularly manufacturing.”

He further argues there is no tradeoff, no environmental return for the economic losses.

“The science behind catastrophic climate change is weak, and small carbon dioxide reductions in California are likely to have zero impact on overall atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations. In other words, some cost for no gain,” Everett argues. “Doesn’t sound like a good policy to me.”

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