The unintended consequences of declaring a climate emergency

Madison Double


Published: August 06, 2022 12:01 AM

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent those of

President Biden is toying with the idea of ​​declaring climate change a national emergency. Supporters want him to introduce drastic changes to tackle climate change – bypassing congressional approval.

But as the old saying goes, haste is wasted. We just need to remember the untested environmental policies that sounded good but ended up creating an even bigger mess.

Consider California. Golden State dumped all of its incentives into solar power beginning in 2006. In contrast, most new construction in California included solar panels. Although lawmakers know solar has been relatively untested. Solar power is noticeably less efficient than fossil fuels—especially in a situation known to suffer from blackouts. And create a problem of toxic waste.

according to new report From the International Renewable Energy Agency, California’s rapid transition to solar power has created a toxic waste disaster for the state. The average life of solar panels, especially those installed since 2006, is only 25 to 30 years. With the first batch of solar panels reaching the end of their life cycle, only 10% have been recycled. A Harvard Business Review study revealed that California’s recycling capacity is “sadly ill-prepared for the potential deluge of waste.”

And despite taxpayer subsidies, California gets only 15 percent of its electricity from solar panels.

Next, consider plastic. We’ve all heard about alternatives that are supposed to be better for the environment. Plastic water bottles have been a major target of environmentalists, with many cities and agencies banning the containers.

a New study From McKinsey and Company pours cold water on this idea. The study suggests that alternatives to plastic may similarly lead to worse outcomes for the planet.

The study revealed that plastic products have a lower greenhouse gas footprint than their alternatives in 13 out of 14 cases.

And it wasn’t even close. Greenhouse gas emissions savings ranged from 10 percent to over 90 percent.

Local governments’ ban on plastic bottles is another example that proves that governments often act to look good rather than do good.

Replace plastic with glass? search from Imperial University of London It was estimated that replacing all plastic bottles used in the UK with glass would create additional greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to the production of 22 large coal-fired power plants.

Why can’t aluminum be replaced with plastic? Aluminum is obtained from bauxite mines while neighboring cities are coated with toxic dust. These airborne particles lead to everything from destroying farmland to cancer in those who breathe dust. It also results from the production of aluminum cans my weakness Carbon dioxide as a plastic bottle and is an important source of global emissions of perfluorocarbon (PFC), which contains 9200 times Global warming potential of carbon dioxide.

Unlike glass, aluminum, and plastic, canned water cans are nearly impossible to recycle because they are made of adhesive layers of plastic, aluminum foil, and paper. study from Danish Environmental Protection Agency I found it better for the planet to burn the cartons than to recycle them.

They are not just alternatives to the bottle. a report In the New York Times I found that local governments’ rush to replace plastic bags with cotton bags is yet another unintended and unintended environmental disaster caused by rash judgment. Emissions from producing one bag of cotton are 20,000 times higher than emissions from one plastic bag.

iden has used by Executive to increase production of solar panels. A national emergency declaration can be allowed to take More extreme stepslike pieces Oil and gas importsand the completion of offshore drilling. The ambiguity of the emergency may allow Biden to limit the production of any “harmful climate productsAccording to one of the experts.

It’s important that we get environmental policies right the first time — and the potential for unexpected problems is high if Biden unwisely tries to declare an “emergency!” Climate change is a slow-moving issue. There is no need to race another set of bad decisions.

Madison Dibble is the communications director for the Center for Accountability in Science.