Climate Change Legislation Caps Poor, Not Emissions
By David Rosales
Members of my congregation are concerned about losing their jobs. Small businesses in our community are struggling to survive. Poor and single-parent families I counsel are stretching to make ends meet.
Ironically at this time of economic difficulty, the House of Representatives has passed a bill to reduce global warming emissions through a cap-and-trade system. This legislation would cap the amount of carbon emissions permitted, which would decline over time.
Firms that reduce their emissions below the allowed amount would be able to trade their remaining credits to other companies. President Barack Obama is calling on the Senate to act, and Senate leaders say a vote will come this fall. The President’s goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent by 2020 and by 83 percent by 2050.
But the cap-and-trade system will create huge job losses and negatively impact an already failing economy. A report by the National Association of Manufacturers estimates that limiting emissions by the projected amounts for 2050 will reduce U.S. gross domestic product by $269 billion with 850,000 job losses by 2014. Moreover, jobs in energy and manufacturing which will be lost will be replaced with less paying renewable energy jobs. According to a study by the University of Massachusetts, the average wage in “green energy” jobs is about 65 percent less than regular energy jobs.
And the jobs that will be lost because of cap and trade will likely go overseas to countries that do not have emissions caps. Ironically, cap and trade is likely to increase greenhouse gases, not reduce them.
Since energy is the largest sector of the U.S. economy, there is no doubt that imposing limits on energy will affect all other sectors of the economy. As some Republicans and Democrats who oppose the bill rightly argue, consumers will end up paying “hidden taxes” in other areas (like food, transportation, and housing). For example, an independent study by the Heritage Foundation finds that every American family, on average, will have to pay about $1,241 a year in additional energy costs as a result of cap-and-trade. That’s over $100 per month, all for a possible decrease in global temperatures of less than one-tenth of one degree by 2050.
When the prices for daily commodities increase, it’s the poor who suffer the most. They are the ones who will have the greatest difficulty making ends meet. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are more than 37 million people living in poverty, with 24 percent of African-Americans and 21 percent of Hispanics falling in this category. Due to the current economic recession, these numbers are likely to increase. Experts predict that more than nine million families will fall into poverty. With the cost of living increasing due to taxes imposed from this pending legislation, low-income families will have a hard time putting food on the table. Small business owners will also struggle to stay afloat.
As stewards of creation, we have a responsibility to care for the earth and the people in it—especially those most in need. This is why I am part of the WeGetIt.org campaign. The campaign is a national coalition of pastors, Christian leaders and policy makers aimed at enlisting one million Christians on a new, historic mission to care for the environment and the poor.
The poor should not be neglected or suffer from careless legislation that punishes the weak in the name of questionable environmental policy. People and nature can and should flourish together. But this requires that we responsibly pursue innovative solutions to environmental challenges. True compassion fulfills God’s mandate to have dominion over the earth while caring for the poor. By following this mandate and rejecting ill-advised notions like cap and trade, we can be both doers and hearers of the Word.
David Rosales has served over 30 years as Senior Pastor of Calvary Chapel of the Chino Valley, a fellowship of 9,000 people. He is an author and can be heard daily on the radio through his national program, A Sure Foundation.Print This Post
July 16, 2009 Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.