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We Must Reject Our Elites’ Failed, Top-Down Environmentalism

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

By Cynthia Lummis

Human ingenuity, not global climate initiatives, will promote prosperity and secure our future. 

Last month in Davos, Switzerland the World Economic Forum (WEF) held its 54th annual meeting where world leaders suggested countries should make significant concessions to address climate change. 

Ideas included having wealthier nations pay for so-called climate action in poorer nations and the phasing out of fossil fuels globally. It is not countries that sacrifice, however, but rather real people who lose opportunities for sanitation, food security, transportation and reliable electricity needed for clean water, home heating and many industries.

Much of the meeting’s climate-change talk echoed views expressed at the most recent United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) in Dubai last December. 

Chief among the talking points in Dubai and Davos was the world needs to transition away from fossil fuels. As is the case with many extreme climate policies, there was little to no acknowledgment of the harm and trade-offs from such initiatives. 

For decades, climate extremists have tried to scare the public into huge, immediate sacrifices to address what they perceive as a crisis. They willfully ignore the significant and life-altering consequences of making such sacrifices, and they also ignore the reality a better tomorrow results from greater human ingenuity and abundance today.

Let’s assume governments all over the world did, in fact, mandate the phasing out of fossil fuels, as was pushed by COP28 and WEF 2024 attendees and supported by U.S. Special Climate Envoy John Kerry. 

This would mean we’d give up essential resources – coal, natural gas and oil – which currently meet more than 80 percent of the world’s energy needs, even though we lack reasonable and ready alternatives.

At home and abroad, people would face far higher prices to purchase even basic goods and services, such as food, housing and medical care. This would also eliminate reliable and affordable electricity.

Unfortunately, the current administration championed unrealistic pledges, and its latest regulatory proposals will limit Americans’ ability to buy gas-powered vehicles, help kill off coal and natural-gas power plants and severely limit the use of appliances such as gas stoves which are fueled by clean, affordable natural gas. 

All of this at a time when Americans are already shelling out more than ever to keep up with rising energy costs.

For the Biden administration, it apparently doesn’t matter these rules would have a disproportionate impact on the poor, increase prices for consumer goods and undermine the electricity grid. 

Nor do they apparently care these policies would erode Americans’ basic freedoms. Everything is about addressing climate change, no matter the cost to the American people.

What does all of this pain get us? Virtually nothing. 

According to the Heritage Foundation, which relied on a clone of a widely used Energy Information Administration model, even if all Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development countries eliminated all of their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, “the world average temperature increase would be mitigated by no more than 0.5 degrees Celsius in 2100.”

Translation – these life-changing and economy-killing proposals would offer a practically undetectable level of improvement and this is only if we achieve the wildly unrealistic zero-emission scenario.

Instead of focusing on unrealistic and extreme measures, we should empower nations to deploy all-of-the-above energy practices which create the resources and ingenuity necessary to address any challenges resulting from changes in the climate.

It is time to end this administration’s assault on domestic energy. 

Congress should adopt legislation such as the Protecting Our Workers from Exploitation and Retaliation (POWER) Act, which would prohibit any administration from blocking energy or mineral leasing and permitting on federal lands and waters without prior congressional approval. 

Deposits of rare earth minerals needed to produce batteries capable of reducing GHG emissions are being discovered in quantities sufficient to end our reliance on China. Yet, the Biden administration’s permitting restrictions prevent the U.S. from meeting its own needs. 

The POWER Act gives us the best chance, short of a new administration, to limit further damage to our domestic energy production while putting America back in the role of world energy leader.

The next time world leaders meet and make promises about the future, Americans should begin and end with a focus on freedom. It is freedom and a bedrock faith in human ingenuity that have been the recipe for countless breakthroughs and solutions to what appeared to be a crisis.

Either we position ourselves to solve problems as they emerge or we – and future generations – will bear the full brunt of them.

Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) is the Senate Western Caucus chair and Kent Lassman is the Competitive Enterprise Institute president. This opinion column was originally published in the National Review on Feb. 13.

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