Heritage’s Ben Lieberman Sets The Record Straight On Europe’s Cap And Trade Experience

Posted on Sat 07/11/2009 by


By Nick Loris

As of late, when it comes to policymaking in Washington D.C., the trendy thing to do has been to point to Europe. Our Members of Congress are doing it with two of the largest reform policies currently on the table: health care and energy. With regards to energy, advocates of a cap and trade program to reduce carbon dioxide emissions say if Europe can do it, so can we. But the reality is, we’re lucky Europe’s gone through with a cap and trade program, because it is a perfect example of what not to do.

Testifying before the Committee on Foreign Relations, The Heritage Foundation’s Senior Policy Analyst in energy issues explained:

Most western European nations are currently learning, the hard way, that ratcheting down carbon emissions [through cap-and-trade] is very difficult and expensive…To the limited extent European nations have reduced emissions below business-as-usual levels, it has hurt their economies. Almost every western European nation has had higher unemployment and energy costs than America, and a weaker overall economy, even as emissions were rising. Far from seeing evidence of the new green economy some are now promising, we are seeing that cap and trade has contributed to the harm. For example, Spain has been cited repeatedly as the example of a successful clean energy economy and source of green jobs, but it is rarely mention that Spain currently has 18 percent unemployment.”

Heritage analysis of the Waxman-Markey legislation that recently passed the House predicts costs averaging nearly $3,000 annually for a family of four, overall lost gross domestic product of $393 billion annually, and $9.4 trillion cumulatively by 2035, as well as over a million lost jobs. Even the Washington Post described Europe’s emissions trading scheme (ETS) as “exhibit A” in what not to do.

Cap and trade supporters can make excuses all they want for ETS’s poor record in Europe. But the bottom line is pretty clear, Lieberman said:

The record in Europe suggests that the Heritage Foundation and others predicting high costs for Waxman-Markey are right, while those predicting postage stamp per day costs are wrong. If it really were postage stamp cheap, Europe’s emissions reduction record would be much better, and there would be no need to make excuses for it.”

For more, visit Heritage’s cap and trade Rapid Response page.

Contributing Author Nick Loris writes at The Heritage Foundation and he is a Research Assistant at The Heritage Foundation’s Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies.

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