It’s a plan based on false assumptions—not facts.
At last week’s city council meeting, Austin city council declared a “climate emergency” and called for immediate mobilization of resources to “restore a safe climate.”
The false assumption here is that one city, or even many cities, could measurably impact the weather. In reality, the council’s resolution is a thinly veiled excuse to grow government and exercise social control.
Hold onto your hats, Austin: It’s about to get a lot more expensive to live here—and despite the claims of city leaders, no more environmentally friendly.
Austin’s climate fear-mongering will have no impact on climate change. Even the global Paris climate accord would only reduce temperatures by 0.17 degrees in 2100, and that’s if every country upheld their end of the bargain, which appears less and less likely by the day. China, for example, plans to add new coal plants and 11 gigawatts of coal power in 2019 and 2020 alone—without the advanced pollution control technologies that have led to the U.S. leading the world in clean air.
At a press conference announcing Austin’s resolution, Councilmember Kathie Tovo lauded the city’s plans as “significant enough to make an impact.” That’s simply not true.
Furthermore, the city’s resolution is based on the feeling—not the fact– that extreme weather events are “increased and intensifying.” The climate is mildly warming, but there is no scientific basis to suggest that this trend will suddenly become rapid or catastrophic. Government weather data reveals no statistically significant rise in the number or intensity of hurricanes. Extreme wet and dry conditions are similarly unchanged.
What has changed is the number of climate-related deaths. Despite the hysterical headlines, global deaths due to these natural disasters have declined 97% in the last century. Despite the world’s population more than quadrupling since 1920, nearly 500,000 fewer people die every year at the hands of hurricanes, wildfires, floods, droughts, and severe weather.
Meanwhile, the six key air pollutants tracked by the EPA have fallen 74% even while our population, economy, and fuel use grew dramatically, and we’re the number one nation in the world for access to clean water.
This is good news our leaders should celebrate. Instead, Austin City Council is fixated on introducing more regulations and spending more of your money on this supposed emergency.
According to the resolution, Austin hopes to subsidize renewable energy sources, levy a carbon tax (thereby raising utility bills for everyone), bully citizens into giving up driving, and launch a public awareness campaign to “ensure that Austin residents understand the potential catastrophic effects of the climate crisis”—one of which, as the resolution itself notes, is a budget shortfall of your tax dollars.
It’s going to be a tough sell. A nationwide AP survey found more than two thirds of Americans are unwilling to pay just $10 more to combat climate change. In Texas, a recent poll from WPA Intelligence found 47% wouldn’t be willing to pay anything more to reduce carbon emissions.
Austin is already the second most expensive real estate market in Texas, and one third of households are forced at least once a year to choose between paying their electric or gas bills and feeding their families. For the poorest among us, those bills hit hard. In Travis County, people below 50% of the poverty level pay nearly 30% of their income for household utilities.
The City of Austin is blissfully unencumbered by the facts, either missing or willfully ignoring the reality that increasing regulations means forcing their constituents to pay more—for no climate benefit whatsoever. For a city that prides itself on creativity and innovation, Austin’s restrictive, top-down climate change initiative is particularly ham-fisted.