Here’s How Environmentalists Are Hurting The Poor

Andrew Follett

A slew of impending and costly global warming policies will ultimately harm the people they most aim to help, according to a growing number of environmentalists and academics.

“Green taxes are mostly regressive — percentage-wise they affect and hurt the poor the most. Just look at Germany’s energy policy, the so-called Energiewende. It is failing the poor, while being a poor way to help the climate.” said Bjørn Lomborg, director of the Copenhagen Consensus Center, to the Daily Caller News Foundation. “Germany’s ‘renewable energies reallocation charge’ has contributed to electricity prices for households increasing 83% (in real terms) since 2000. This charge has increasingly reallocated money from the poor to the rich.”

Even the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change assumes in its various scenarios that the people of 2100 will be between 3 and 20 times wealthier than people of today despite assuming the worst possible impacts of global warming. Reducing emissions today for the benefit of people in 2100 is transferring money from the poor to the rich.

Extreme global warming of 2.5 degrees Celsius by 2100 is estimated by economists to reduce the average person’s buying power by a mere 1.3 percent. That’s less than the average annual rate of economic growth. Existing environmental regulations already do more damage to the average person’s buying power than the worst case global warming scenarios.

Studies by academics and think tanks generally conclude that environmentalist inspired public policy likely increases unemployment,slows economic growth, and often leads regulatory incentives which make the problem worse. Raising prices and reducing productivity via environmental regulation harms low-income individuals far more than it harms the wealthy.

Forcing up prices via regulation hurts the poor and ethnic minorities the most, because poor people tend to spend a higher proportion of their incomes on “basic needs” like groceries, power bills, clothing, housing and gasoline than wealthier people do. As essential goods like electricity becomes more expensive, the cost of producing goods and services that use electricity increases, effectively raising the price of almost everything. The higher prices are ultimately paid for by consumers, not industries.

Increases in the price of electricity harm African-Americans and other ethnic minorities far more than they harm the average household, according to a study by the Pacific Research Institute. Existing regulations like the Clean Power Plan are expected to cause the average annual electricity bill to rise from 2.9 percent to 3.8 percent of average household income. For the average African-American household, annual spending on electricity will rise from 4.5 percent to 5.8 percent of household income. Lower-income African-Americans will bear an even larger burden and could spend up to 26 percent of their household income on electricity.

Environmental policies have good intentions, but bad results.

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