Energy Subsidies

Green Subsidies Have Close to Zero Effect on Emissions


Credit: Timo Newton-Syms/wikimedia

A study conducted over two years by the National Research Council has concluded that subsidies for green energy have had close to zero effect in reducing US greenhouse gas emissions.

From Fox News:

After a survey of expert literature on the tax and subsidy topic, coupled with extensive customized computer modeling work, the study declared that "their combined impact is less than 1 percent of total U.S. emissions" over the next 25 years, and they are a lousy bargain to boot:  "Very little if any GHG reductions are achieved at substantial cost with these provisions."

So much so, in fact, that the study concluded "current tax expenditures and subsidies are a poor tool for reducing greenhouse gases and achieving climate-change objectives."  They "achieve small reductions in GHG emissions and are costly per unit of emissions reduction."The full cost was something the study was unable to make entirely clear.

It estimated that the federal government had spent some $48 billion in just the past two years on "tax expenditures"-meaning subsidies, credits, and other incentives—related to the energy sector, and also noted that few were specifically enacted to reduce greenhouse gases.

The report highlighted the unintended consequences of the incentives given to the biofuels sector. Professor of economics at Yale, William D. Nordhaus, who chaired the committee responsible for the report, said, "tax credits for biofuels encouraged the consumption of motor fuels because they lower prices, and this effect appears to offset any reduction in the GHG intensity of motor fuels that occurs because of the incentives to blend biofuels with gasoline."

Last month, President Obama gave a major speech on the issue of climate change, unveiling a raft of new measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The speech was hailed by Al Gore as "a terrific and historic speech, by far the best address on climate by any president ever." The plan includes limiting the amount of carbon that can be emitted from power plants and a gargantuan increase in funding for clean energy technology of $7.9 billion. There is as yet no compelling reason to assume this massive increase in spending will be any more successful in finding an efficient green alternative to fossil fuels than the past several years of failure. 

Since subsidizing failing projects and burning taxpayers' money has become the raison d'etre of the Obama administration, don't expect any reconsideration of policy after this report. 

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  1. ‘Last month, President Obama opened his yap and continued his habit of lying through his teeth’

  2. Greenies don’t seem to like green things that really work anyway.
    They loved natural gas until it was deregulated and got cheap across state lines.
    They’ve never liked nuclear, in my lifetime anyway.
    As wind gets better, they like it less and less.
    I even heard some gripes about solar’s land use recently.

    1. “I even heard some gripes about solar’s land use recently.”

      I should follow it more closely, but the folks in the desert Southeast CA are pissed that land which is used for nothing at all is to get a solar farm. They just want to look at the parched land, ’cause it’s ‘natural’.
      So, yeah, the greenies are getting to be honest about how they prefer the neolithic life. For YOU.

    2. As wind gets better, they’re start to care about all the birds the windmills kill…

      They’ll ignore the fact that the best places for solar plants are deserts, where there isn’t much else anyway, and the local wildlife is all “Least concern (Read – Pest Species)”…

      Nuclear is by far the cleanest but “Radiation!”

      They’ll probably hate Fusion once it reaches commerical viability. (It’s getting closer)

      1. Curious as to how you define “closer” with regards to fusion and commercial viability. Last I heard it wasn’t even technically viable yet.

        1. Yes, it still requires more power than it generates, but the ratios are improving.

        2. Shit buddy, we haven’t had fusion power in the past, we probably will at some point, ipso facto shazaam we’re getting closer/

    3. Yep, I think I’ve mentioned that in an “environmental studies” class I took to fill a requirement, the question was posed, “But wouldn’t the development of, say, efficient biofuels make people think they can consume as much as they want?”

      I thought that was the point… no, apparently it’s just an anti-consumption religion.

  3. BUT OIL SUBSIDIES!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. After watching Germany massively subsidize their green revolution, it is alarming (meh, par for the course) that anybody thinks that solar and wind will do anything but destabilize the grid and massively increase electricity costs (and not lower CO2 if that is the goal with this crap).

    Germany — Insane or Just Plain Stupid?

    1. See also California who is determined to return to the dark ages.

  5. “Green Subsidies Have Close to Zero Effect on Emissions.”

    Facts Have Close to Zero Effect on Environmentalists.

    1. *Farts*, on the other hand , ….

  6. A political philosophy should have a positive vision and not just be a critique of (constant ranting about) someone else’s. What is the libertarian plan to reduce emissions? From what I gather, it’s to stick your fingers in your ears and say “lalalala.”

    1. There is no plan to reduce emissions other than to allow those harmed by emissions to sue using whatever institutions handle torts in the particular flavor of libertarianism one is considering.

      1. Or you could reduce the emissions of sockpuppets by ignoring their moronic statements. Aren’t you busy emitting gases yourself right now anyway?

        1. I have an idea. We should promote an annual event where everyone simultaneously holds their breath for one minute, all at once. This would symbolically reduce carbon emissions.

          1. Symbolically is the best kind, because it requires no effort or sacrifice!

            1. I know! I feel symbolically better already!

            2. What should we call it, Suffocate for Mother Nature Day? The Breathless Minute for Gaia?

        2. You debated Tulpa, Episiarch. I tu quoque you. I tu quoque you to hell!

      2. So libertarianism is a miserable failure as a political philosophy, completely incapable of handling real-world problems? I thought so!

        1. I thought you said you avoided discussing topics about which you knew nothing?

    2. Step 1 – Honestly determine if there is an actual issue to be addressed.

      If you complete step 1, we can talk about what Step 2 might be.

        1. He said “honestly”.

          1. The scientific process is the apex of honesty.

            1. If only those you worship followed it.

    3. Yeah Tony, just because the programs cost a fortune, make our power grid unreliable and really hurt a lot of people, doesn’t give Libertarians the right to point out that they don’t even reduce emissions.

      You really are a comedy act sometimes.

    4. What is the libertarian plan to reduce emissions?

      There’s a lot of question begging in those few words.

      1. Denying a problem exists in the face of overwhelming evidence that it does is an admission of failure on your part. Maybe you should just rid yourself of this obviously failed approach.

      2. A lot of butthurt too.

    5. Libertarianism, unlike other political philosophies, does not pretend to have all the answers to every field, including science and engineering. This issue- one of discovering efficient renewable energy sources- is one rightfully reserved to scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs (not mutually exclusive) who are interested in alternative energy. It has nothing to do with politics.

  7. Last month, President Obama gave a major speech on the issue of climate change, unveiling a raft of new measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

    Mush from the Simp.

  8. Maybe those subsidies are not really intended to have an effect on emissions.

    Of course, it’s probably just a weird coincidence that some close friends of the administration got rich working at Solyndra before it went tits up.

  9. I have never heard anyone say anything good about biofuels subsidies. On the contrary they are always criticized when brought up. And yet they simply will not die. Why exactly does agriculture hold so much sway in DC despite the tiny fraction of Americans actually involved in it?

    1. Concentrated and intense support, diffuse and mild opposition.

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