Joel Kotkin
Forbes
Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Whatever the results of the Copenhagen conference on climate change, one thing is for sure: Draconian reductions on carbon emissions will be tacitly accepted by the most developed economies and sloughed off by many developing ones. In essence, emerging economies get to cut their “carbon” intensity–a natural product of their economic evolution–while we get to cut our throats.

The logic behind this prediction goes something like this. Since the West created the industrial revolution and the greenhouse gases that supposedly caused this “crisis,” it’s our obligation to take much of the burden for cleaning them up.

Plagued by self-doubt and even self-loathing, many in the West will no doubt consider this an appropriate mea culpa. Our leaders will dutifully accept cuts in our carbon emissions–up to 80% by 2050–while developing countries increasetheirs, albeit at a lower rate. Oh, we also pledge to send billions in aid to help them achieve this goal.

The media shills, scientists, bureaucrats and corporate rent-seekers gathered at Copenhagen won’t give much thought to what this means to the industrialized world’s middle and working class. For many of them the new carbon regime means a gradual decline in living standards. Huge increases in energy costs, taxes and a spate of regulatory mandates will restrict their access to everything from single-family housing and personal mobility to employment in carbon-intensive industries like construction, manufacturing, warehousing and agriculture.

You can get a glimpse of this future in high-unemployment California. Here a burgeoning regulatory regime tied to global warming threatens to turn the state into a total “no go” economic development zone. Not only do companies have to deal with high taxes, cascading energy prices and regulations, they now face audits of their impact on global warming. Far easier to move your project to Texas–or if necessary, China.

Full story here.



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