Climate Policy And Keeping The Poor Poor

Fifteen years and more of no global warming, and President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry are doubling down once again on their anti-carbon energy policies.  I'm old enough to remember the time when the government thought that getting cheap electricity to the people was a good idea.  Now the idea is to make it more expensive.

So we have John Kerry speaking yesterday in Jakarta, Indonesia:

“We should not allow a tiny minority of shoddy scientists and science and extreme ideologues to compete with scientific facts,” Kerry told the audience at a U.S. Embassy-run American Center in a shopping mall.  “Nor should we allow any room for those who think that the costs associated with doing the right thing outweigh the benefits.  The science is unequivocal, and those who refuse to believe it are simply burying their heads in the sand,” Kerry said. “We don’t have time for a meeting anywhere of the Flat Earth Society,”

Well, as John Hinderaker says today about Kerry (in the context of yet other idiocies, his remarks on Syria), "He doesn't have a high enough IQ for difficult work."  My question is, can we at least acknowledge that the "costs" of the war against carbon energy include intentionally keeping the poor poor?

At the Center for Global Development, Todd Moss has a recent post that examines what has been going on at the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) in the way of financing electricity-generating projects in poor countries.  Turns out that for multiple years OPIC has been almost completely forbidden to invest in fossil fuel projects.

Indeed, over the past five years, OPIC has invested in more than 40 new energy projects and all but two (in Jordan and Togo) are in renewables. 

Of course, because so-called "renewables" are more expensive than carbon-based energy,  the consequence of that policy has been that the same amount of investment provides access to electricity to far fewer people.

The CGD analysis shows that a $10 billion OPIC portfolio focused on 100% off-grid renewables would provide energy access to 70 million less people than if that portfolio was 100% natural gas.

And it's not just in the poor countries.  Here in New York City, Con Edison utility bills have spiked this month.  Why?  According to Bloomberg Business Week, even as fracking brings down the price of natural gas, there is inadequate pipeline capacity to bring that gas to the major cities of the Northeast.  So it's the transmission costs that have spiked.  Here in Manhattan we have the so-called "Sane Energy Project" fighting tooth and nail to prevent construction of pipeline capacity to bring "fracked" gas into the city.  Well congratulations guys, your electricity and heating bill just doubled!  OK, we can't blame this one on Obama and Kerry.  But will these guys ever figure out that there is cause and effect here?