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Rethinking The Green New Deal


Published on: January 30, 2020

The Green New Deal’s promises for revising energy policy come at an unprecedented cost. There are less disruptive methods of reducing greenhouse gases, such as a revenue-neutral carbon tax. By making the price of fossil fuels better reflect their negative side effects, carbon taxes would give consumers more of a reason to buy low-carbon alternatives.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What would it take to replace all gas-powered cars with zero-emission vehicles in the United States?
  2. How should Congress encourage progress toward the most cost-effective solutions to reduce carbon emissions?

Additional resources:

  • Read “A Closer Look at the Left’s Agenda: Scientific, Economic, and Numerical Illiteracy on the Campaign Trail” by Michael J. Boskin, available here.
  • Read “The Green New Deal Is a Pipe Dream, Not a Serious Policy Proposal” by Lee Ohanian, available here.
  • Read “The Green New Deal and the Politics of pessimism” by David Davenport, available here.
View Transcript

The Green New Deal promises to shift the country to 100% renewable energy, replace all gas-powered cars with zero-emission vehicles, and make every home and business energy efficient.

The promises would be unprecedentedly costly. The taxes or debt needed to finance the promised subsidies would dwarf all previous government programs. The changes would also be disruptive. Industries and jobs would be lost in a deluge of new regulations.

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions and delivering a cleaner environment is something we should all want. But there are less disruptive and more cost-effective methods for meeting these goals.

Instituting a modest, revenue-neutral carbon tax with other taxes reduced dollar for dollar, could better ensure the price of fossil fuels reflects their negative side effects. Higher carbon prices would give consumers more reason to buy emission-free alternatives, and they would encourage inventors and entrepreneurs to develop new technologies that further reduce demand for carbon-emitting vehicles and energy sources.

Subsidies and regulations that force specific technologies, like wind or solar power, on the whole country will harm the economy and slow the overall progress toward the best solutions. We don’t know what those best solution will be, but providing the right incentives to find them is our best hope of delivering a greener future.