An economic critique of the Green New Deal

Benjamin Zycher analyzes the proposed Green New Deal for the American Enterprise Institute. The proposal wilts under even a small level of scrutiny.

[N]otwithstanding the assertions from GND proponents that it is an essential policy to confront purportedly adverse climate phenomena, the future temperature impacts of the zero-emissions objective would be barely distinguishable from zero: 0.173°C by 2100, under the maximum Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change parameter (equilibrium climate sensitivity) about the effects of reduced GHG emissions. Under an assumption consistent with the findings reported in the recent peer-reviewed literature, the effect would be 0.083°C by 2100, a policy impact not measurable against normal variation in temperatures. This conclusion is not controversial and suggests strongly that the GND’s real goal is wealth redistribution to favored political interests under the GND social-policy agenda and a dramatic increase in government control of resource allocation more generally.

A GND policy would yield no benefits in its central energy, environment, and climate context, but it would impose very large economic costs. Simple correlations among variables do not demonstrate causation, but the historical data on energy consumption and production, growth in gross domestic product, employment, rising incomes and energy consumption, and poverty make it clear that the GND would yield large adverse effects in each of those dimensions. In particular, because rising incomes result in greater energy demands and because the GND intellectual framework views conventional energy as a social “bad,” parameters that increase individual and national incomes — such as education and health investment, technological advances, and investments in productive plant and equipment — also must be viewed in a negative light. Accordingly, one logical corollary to the GND policy agenda is a reduction in such direct or indirect investments in human capital. Thus does the GND reveal the essential antihuman core of the modern opposition to conventional energy.

Mitch Kokai / Senior Political Analyst

Mitch Kokai is senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation. He joined JLF in December 2005 as director of communications. That followed more than four years as chie...

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