In a recent column (March 24, “Northeast cap-and-trade compact raises taxes behind â€˜green’ smokescreen”), M.D. Harmon suggested that Maine should leave the multistate Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative because the slow rise in global warming makes it unnecessary. It is instructive to compare this view with the view of experts.
Consider three quotes from the recent executive summary from the Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change:
â€¢ “Increasing magnitudes of warming increase the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts.”
â€¢ “The overall risks of climate change impacts can be reduced by limiting the rate and magnitude of climate change.”
â€¢ “Prospects for climate-resilient pathways for sustainable development are related fundamentally to what the world accomplishes with climate-change mitigation. … Delaying mitigation actions may reduce options for climate-resilient pathways in the future.”
Pretending that the problem does not exist is rarely good policy, especially, as in this case, when it involves doing away with a mitigation (emissions reduction) program that has overseen a 45 percent reduction in greenhouse gases in the power sector. Additionally, using the carbon price revenue to reduce energy costs of Maine businesses has made those businesses much more competitive. Not only would a delay in mitigation actually result in higher costs, but it would weaken the future competitiveness of Maine businesses.
This seems to explain why such strong, broad opposition arose the last time the idea of abandoning RGGI went before the Maine Legislature.