Global Warmers 'Shouldn't Make Us All Worship at Their Church,' Says Tax Reformer

By Monisha Bansal | July 7, 2008 | 8:23 PM EDT

( - Discussing energy policy options Thursday, experts in Washington, D.C., disagreed about how to address the emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases blamed by many scientists for climate change.

A tax reform campaigner dismissed both of the more commonly promoted proposals to combat global warming as equally bad.

"Some, pointing to recent increases in Earth's temperature, have argued for strict limits on greenhouse gases such as those imposed under the Kyoto Protocol," Michael Canes, senior research fellow at the Logistics Management Institute, said during a briefing hosted by the George C. Marshall Institute, a science and policy think tank.

Under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, highly industrialized nations agreed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by specified amounts by 2012.

The mechanism was known as "cap and trade" - a government caps the amount of emissions that may be produced, and companies that produce less than that can trade their allotment with those that emit more than the allowed amount.

"U.S. policy to date has not embraced such limits," said Canes, arguing that "cap and trade is a particularly costly means of constraining greenhouse gas emissions."

Canes said constraints on fossil energy use will reduce the growth of the U.S. gross domestic product and that ongoing growth will require more energy use. "We could try to conserve, but eventually we would find that we would want to use more energy," he said.

Canes said fossil fuels, which emit greenhouse gases when burned, currently make up 85 percent of U.S. energy use. It would cost tens of billions of dollars a year "to curb energy use."

Canes said a better option would be a tax on all energy sources that emit CO2 into the atmosphere.

"A carbon tax would be a cheaper means to curb greenhouse gases," he said, contending that it "would be five times more effective" than a cap and trade program.

But Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, said both cap and trade and a carbon tax are "bad ideas."

"Having a conversation about whether you want to have cap and trade or a carbon tax as a way to solve global warming is a little bit like having a conversation about whether you'd rather have the electric chair or guillotine before you've decided whether capital punishment is a good idea or not," Norquist told Cybercast News Service .

"The carbon tax has the advantage over cap and trade in that it is much more honest about what you are doing - raising taxes to change behavior." At the same time, he said, both programs are very similar.

"The people who have a quasi-religious belief in man-made global warming are entitled to their religious beliefs, but they are not entitled to make the rest of us worship in their church," he said.

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