If you happen to catch Arnold Schwarzenegger’s speech to the U.N. on climate change today, please remember as you listen that the governator is full of it. Once again, the movie star turned politician will tell a crowd of politicians that fixing the climate will be a boon to the economy. It’s not, and he knows it.Unfortunately, his false promises are catching on. Republican governors Charlie Crist (Fla.) and Tim Pawlenty (Minn.) have echoed Schwarzenegger’s claims. And in today’s Financial Times, former President Bill Clinton spoke of climate change mitigation policy, saying, “there is way more economic opportunity than cost here.”
There isn’t. The fact of the matter is that energy use is causally linked with economic production, and emissions are the byproduct of energy use. Therefore, if you curb emissions, you necessarily curb economic productivity.
We can reduce emissions by developing non-fossil fuel energy sources. But it will be expensive — independent studies estimate reducing emissions would cost the U.S. economy almost $2 trillion. By obscuring the costs of reducing emissions, Schwarzenegger creates unfounded expectations.