Stumble Joe made a foolish promise yesterday when he proposed reducing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by half of their 2005 levels in the next nine years.
What would the U.S. have to do to achieve Mr. Biden’s new emissions pledge? Start with some perspective. The Obama regulatory fusillade got the U.S. only about halfway to his Paris pledge—and most of the reductions during his Presidency were from natural gas displacing coal in power due to market forces.
Amid last year’s Covid-19 lockdowns, greenhouse gas emissions fell to about 21% below 2005 levels. In other words, even with the economy shut down and a large share of the population stuck at home, the U.S. was less than halfway to Mr. Biden’s goal.
Some green groups have done their own back-of-the envelope analysis of what it would take to achieve Mr. Biden’s 10-year plan. Take a recent Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) report that argues for a “strong whole-of-government approach.” This includes eliminating new gas-powered cars by 2035, presumably by ramping up corporate average fuel economy (Cafe) standards. Mr. Biden has also proposed sweetening federal tax credits for buying electric cars—currently $7,500—but soon consumers will have no choice but to buy them when their gas vehicles expire.
The Biden goal will require the electric grid to be totally rebuilt in 10 years. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, the U.S. will also have to double its share of carbon-free power to 80% from 40% today—half of which is now provided by nuclear—to have any hope of achieving Mr. Biden’s pledge.
All coal plants would have to shut down, and natural gas plants would be phased into obsolescence. Wind and solar energy would have to increase six to seven fold. The Obama Clean Power Plan, which the Supreme Court blocked in 2016, looks modest by comparison. It sought to reduce CO2 power emissions by 32%. Most homes would also have to be electrified. So if you like your gas stove, you won’t be able to keep it. Farmers would also have to adopt “climate-smart agriculture and forestry,” EDF says.
This small sampling of practicalities doesn’t even begin to describe the grandiosity of this foolishness. The unintended consequences alone will be huge. And for what? Eighty-five percent of the world’s C02 emissions will continue unabated. The burden Stumble Joe would place on us will solve nothing.