Most legislation or regulation that spends hundreds of billions of dollars aimed at a purpose is extensively analyzed or scored to that purpose. OK, the numbers are often, er, a bit unreliable, but at least proponents go through the motions and lay out assumptions one can examine and calculate differently. Tax and spending laws come with extensive analysis of just how much the government will make or spend. This is especially true when environment is concerned. Building anything requires detailed environmental assessments. An environmental review typically takes 4.5 years before the lawsuits begin.
In this context, I'm amazed that climate policy typically comes with no numbers, or at least none that I can find readily available in major media. We're going to spend an additional $250 billion or so on climate policies in the humorously titled "inflation reduction act." OK, how much carbon will that remove, on net, all things included, how much will that lower the temperature and when, how much and when will it quiet the rise of the oceans?
Finally, I have seen one number, advertised in the Wall Street Journal,
Our contributor Bjorn Lomborg looked at the Rhodium Group estimate for CO2 emissions reductions from Schumer-Manchin policies. He then plugged them into the United Nations climate model to measure the impact on global temperature by 2100. He finds the bill will reduce the estimated global temperature rise at the end of this century by all of 0.028 degrees Fahrenheit in the optimistic case. In the pessimistic case, the temperature difference will be 0.0009 degrees Fahrenheit.
Bjorn's twitter stream on the calculation.
Maybe you don't like Bjorn's numbers and the IPCC model. (Not exactly a right-wing operation). Maybe you don't like the Rhodium group's analysis. A quick reading left me the impression its thumb might be on the wildly over-optimistic side of what this rathole of pork can produce, and of experience with what the similar past ratholes have produced:
Our preliminary estimate is that the IRA can cut US net greenhouse gas emissions down to 31% to 44% below 2005 levels in 2030—with a central estimate of 40% below 2005 levels—compared to 24% to 35% under current policy. The range reflects uncertainty around future fossil fuel prices, economic growth, and technology costs. It will also meaningfully reduce consumer energy costs and bolster US energy security over the medium-term,
10% of 2005 levels is a lot. Subsidies reduce consumer costs, but not the cost to society overall. Clever. How one can claim that clamping down on fossil fuels and subsidizing windmills and solar panels helps energy security with the German example before us is a good question. Bjorn's point is that even with this immense thumb on the scale, the actual climate benefit is tiny. If you disagree, fine, produce some alternates.
(BTW, politicians who tell you we need to do something about climate to turn off heat waves and stop forest fires are either lying or profoundly ignorant. Nothing even Greta Thunberg proposes will actually lower temperatures in our great grandchildren's lifetimes. Read carefully, "reduce the temperature rise." Not "reduce temperatures." )
But why are these numbers being produced by think tanks and private researchers, who often have agendas to push? Why are we doing all this after the fact? Shouldn't these numbers be proclaimed, debated, and analyzed ahead of time? We have a Congressional Budget Office that scores the financial impact of legislation. Why is there no Congressional Climate Calculation Office that scores how much carbon proposed legislation will save, and how much it will lower 2100 temperatures? The SEC wants to mandate that every company calculate and disclose carbon emissions, so it surely does not think it an insuperable task. If you have to do a full 5 year NEPA environmental assessment to build a road or conduct a controlled burn, why do you not have to do the most minimal calculation to save the environment?
It is astounding that we are asked to spend gargantuan amounts of money, and severely reduce economic prosperity along the way especially in poor countries, to address the climate during our great-great-grandchildren's lives, yet proposed legislation and regulations do not calculate and advertise what the actual benefits of policies are are in a public, quantifiable, and transparent way.