With the Trump administration backing off schemes to impose huge reductions in "greenhouse gas" emissions on the populace, some of the blue states are stepping up to "save the planet." Or so they claim. The leaders are California and New York.
The California Air Resources Board ("CARB") has just announced its next moves. On December 14 CARB approved something called its 2017 Climate Change Scoping Plan, and issued a big press release to tell the world about it. From the press release:
Building on the state’s success in decarbonizing its economy, the California Air Resources Board today approved a bold plan to accelerate the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions over the coming decade while improving air quality and public health, investing in disadvantaged communities, and supporting jobs and economic growth. “At a time when science shows us that climate change is happening faster than anticipated, California is responding with a bold plan that rises to meet this global challenge,” said CARB Chair Mary D. Nichols. “It builds on proven actions and presents a template for other jurisdictions who are also committed to preventing the worst impacts of a warming planet.”
The "bold" goals are to reduce these evil "greenhouse gas" emissions back to 1990 levels by 2020, and then by an additional 40% by 2030, and then by 80% by 2050. Can we get an idea of how that is going, and of how much it is likely to cost? I'm spending quite a bit of time here trying to find answers to those questions, and all I can say is, it looks to me like the entire state of California has agreed to a suspension of critical thinking on these issues.
For example, we can look to something called the California Energy Commission, a state agency with jurisdiction over things like electricity production and usage. One thing they are charged with is tracking progress on the goals for producing more electricity from "renewables." So they have put out a big report, just updated this month, called "Tracking Progress -- Renewable Energy." This is 30 pages, chock full of rah! rah! Soviet-style statistics of how much new wind and solar electricity capacity they have been installing. But with the continuing need for back-up from fossil fuel sources to make the electric grid work, does increasing wind and solar capacity actually reduce GHG emissions to any significant degree? You won't find an answer to that question here. As an alternative, go to page ES3 of the CARB Scoping Plan linked above, and you will find that -- despite massive installation of wind and solar capacity now providing some 17% of California's electricity -- California's GHG emissions at the latest measurement remain above the 1990 level, and all of the supposed 40% and then 80% reductions that are promised are allegedly going to occur between 2020 and 2050. Oh, and the peak of emissions was about 480 MMTCO2e in 2005, less than 10% above the 1990 (and projected 2020) level of about 440 MMTCO2e. So after 20 years or so of effort, they haven't yet succeeded in reducing emissions by 10%; but they're going to achieve a 40% reduction in the next 12 years, and 80% in 32. Sure!
Meanwhile, for better or worse, in New York we have a state government that is going down more or less the same path. The difference is that not every single person in this state has suspended critical thinking -- only about 99.7% of them. And thus we have an August 2017 Report from Jonathan Lesser of the Manhattan Institute titled "New York's Clean Energy Programs: The High Cost of Symbolic Environmentalism." First, what so-called "clean energy" goals has New York adopted? From the MI Report:
In 2016, the New York Public Service Commission (NYPSC) enacted the Clean Energy Standard (CES). Under the CES, by 2030, 50% of all electricity sold by the state’s utilities must come from renewable generating resources. At the same time, emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG)—principally carbon dioxide (CO2) but also such gases as methane and chlorofluorocarbons—must be reduced by 40%. The CES also incorporates New York’s previous GHG emissions reduction mandate, established by Executive Order in 2009,2 which requires that the state’s GHG emissions be reduced 80% below 1990 levels by 2050 (the “80 by 50” mandate).
So the "goals" are more or less the same as those of California. And now, are the goals achievable, and at what potential cost? Key finding:
Given existing technology, the Clean Energy Standard’s 80 by 50 mandate is unrealistic, unobtainable, and unaffordable. Attempting to meet the mandate could easily cost New York consumers and businesses more than $1 trillion by 2050, while providing scant, if any, measurable benefits.
A trillion dollars -- that's real money! And for "scant, if any" benefits. This is climate politics at its best. There are lots of other conclusions illustrating the total absurdity of the proposed program. Here is one of my favorites:
Even with enormous gains in energy efficiency, the mandate would require installing at least 100,000 megawatts (MW) of o shore wind generation, or 150,000 MW of onshore wind generation, or 300,000 MW of solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity by 2050. By comparison, in 2015, about 11,300 MW of new solar PV capacity was installed in the entire United States. Moreover, meeting the CES mandate likely would require installing at least 200,000 MW of battery storage to compensate for wind and solar’s inherent intermittency.
No problem! And now, let's assume that the most alarmist of the climate models are completely accurate in their predictions. How much global temperature rise can the state of New York avoid by going down this road?
The primary reason for the CES, to reduce GHG emissions, will not lead to any measurable impacts on climate and thus no climate-related benefits.
None, nada, and zilch. But of course there's this:
Lower-income New Yorkers will bear relatively more of the above-market costs necessary to achieve even the interim  CES goal.
Oh, and meanwhile the world carries on building some 1600 coal power plants (mostly in China, India and Africa). They are laughing at the likes of California, New York and, for that matter, Europe.
The good news is that there is a 0% chance that these ridiculous carbon-reduction programs will be carried through to conclusion. I'm just wondering why I got picked to be the guinea pig in an experiment so obviously doomed to failure.