- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 20, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Although climate change ranks at or near the bottom of issues most important to the American people, the Obama administration continues to push it like its agenda on radical wealth redistribution depends on it. Because in many ways, it does.

The latest move is the climate agreement reached in Paris last December, which will become effective on Earth Day, April 22, with a ceremony at the United Nations headquarters in New York involving at least 162 countries.

The deal set a target of keeping global temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels. In order to achieve that, the signatory nations will have to undertake the massive and expensive switch to clean energy and low-carbon infrastructure. The Obama administration intends to enforce the agreement by imposing the EPA’s Clean Power Plan (CPP) and other mandates.

The agreement’s cheerleaders reveal its true objective — global wealth redistribution — when they argue that it’s about reducing worldwide poverty.

“It’s a simple relation: More carbon equals more poverty,” says Christiana Figueres, the United Nations’ climate chief. “Net zero emissions is the only way to make poverty eradication possible.”

Climate change mandates aren’t really mostly about climate; they’re really mostly about coercing wealth from the industrialized world and transferring it to the underdeveloped one. The rich irony is that contrary to the agreement’s proponents that it will “eradicate poverty,” green energy mandates actually hurt the poor the most.

It’s called green energy poverty, and the policies stemming from the Paris agreement will cause utility rates to rise dramatically, inevitably causing economic pain for countless energy users.

Green energy poverty is defined as a household in which 10 percent or more of the residents’ income is spent on household energy costs (excluding gasoline and other transportation-related costs). Higher green energy costs leave families with less money to spend on other necessities such as housing, groceries, transportation and health care. This disproportionately hits poor minority families and seniors on fixed incomes, much like a regressive tax.

The Obama administration’s CPP, for example, will increase Hispanic poverty by more than 26 percent and black poverty by more than 23 percent, according to a study by the National Black Chamber of Commerce. As the energy burdens for blacks and Hispanics grow, their household incomes will decline by increasing amounts each year. It’s estimated that by 2035, cumulative job losses for blacks will total about 7 million and for Hispanics about 12 million.

According to AmericasPower.org, energy bills already consume, on average, a whopping one-fifth of low-income Americans’ income. Percentage-wise, lower-income and middle-income households spend more than twice the average of higher-income households on energy. And lower-income families in particular spend three times more proportionally on energy than households with higher incomes.

Consider California, home to billionaire and climate activist Tom Steyer, who has financed major pushes for green energy mandates. According to the Institute for Energy Research, household electricity bills in California run about 40 percent higher than the national average and are the ninth-most expensive in the nation, thanks to a law requiring green energy to comprise 33 percent of the state’s electricity supply by 2020. Mr. Steyer testified in favor of a 2015 measure that would have raised the target to 50 percent by 2030.

A Manhattan Institute analysis indicates that 1 million California households now live in energy poverty. California currently has the nation’s highest poverty rate, which is now 50 percent higher than Mississippi.

Further, the oppressive costs come without significant benefit in terms of public health or environmental protection. According to the Cato Institute, the CPP, for example, will only mitigate .018 degrees Celsius of warming over the next 85 years, or less than two one-hundredths of a degree Celsius by the year 2100.

Europe’s experience should serve as a warning. It has been subject to green energy mandates for years, and the economic impact hasn’t been pretty.

During the past eight years, electricity in Europe has become 42 percent more expensive, according to Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. Eight million French households are no longer able to pay their electricity bill, and some 350,000 German residences have had their power cut off, up 13 percent from 2011. German consumers’ electricity bills have doubled since 2000, when a renewable-energy levy was tacked onto every residential electricity bill to subsidize owners of turbines and solar panels. The World Health Organization estimates that 30 percent of European winter deaths may be attributable to living in insufficiently heated homes.

Despite what the climate change bullies want you to believe, expensive, unreliable, tax-supported “green energy” fuels don’t help to “eradicate poverty.” They actually overwhelmingly hurt the poor, which suits their agenda by driving ever-more people into government dependency.

That’s a real-world consequence of green policies that serves neither the climate nor the impoverished but certainly serves the radical wealth redistributors of the climate brigade.

Monica Crowley is editor of online opinion at The Washington Times.

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