Talking Points on the Environment #11

Why President Clinton's Global Warming Plan is a Bum Steer

In October 1993, the Clinton Administration unveiled its plan to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Designed to counter the supposed threat of global warming, the plan includes 44 initiatives ranging from the imposition of stiffer energy efficiency standards for household appliances to the institution of new recycling programs. If fully implemented, the plan would not only prove to be very costly, but could be ineffective or even counterproductive. Under the President's plan...

The federal government would subsidize paper recycling as a means of reducing emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), a greenhouse gas. But recycling would only reduce CO2 emissions assuming trees absorb CO2 at a constant rate, regardless of their age. They do not. Young, fast-growing trees absorb CO2 at a faster rate than do older trees. If recycling efforts reduce demand for pulpwood used in the manufacture of paper, fewer old trees would be harvested, fewer young trees planted and higher CO2 levels would result.

A new $28 million program would be established to boost beef productivity for the purpose of reducing cow flatulence (a source of the greenhouse gas methane). While increased beef productivity would reduce the amount of methane emitted per pound of beef produced, overall cattle methane emissions could rise. Presumably, increased productivity would result in lower beef prices, spurring greater demand for and production of beef. Thus, overall methane emission could increase.

New "fuel efficiency" labeling requirements would be established for tires in an effort to encourage consumers to purchase more fuel-efficient tires. The Clinton Administration estimates that the program would cost the private sector $2.2 billion, but save $3.9 billion in fuel and reduce CO2 emissions. But it assumes that close to 8% of all Americans will buy new tires in response to the labels --a rather optimistic scenario.

To reduce the amount of greenhouse gases emanating from landfills, a new government program would be established to encourage manufacturers to reduce packaging. But reducing packaging could prove counterproductive. Every pound of paper packaging reduces food waste by an average of 1.41 pounds. Thus, reduction could waste food and increase garbage destined for landfills and consequently increase greenhouse gases.

Information from Heritage Foundation Backgrounder No. 995 by John Shanahan.

Issue Date: August 23, 1994.

Talking Points on the Economy: Environment #11, published by The National Center for Public Policy Research, 501 Capitol Ct NE, Washington, D.C. 20001 Tel. (202) 507-6398, Fax (301) 498-1301,, http://www.nationalcenter/ For more information about Talking Points on the Economy: Environment #11 contact Bob Adams at (202) 507-6398 or

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