Richard Land: Climate Action = Economic Hardship


“Back door attempts in Congress to push through a global warming tax are heating up.

“It is our understanding that the Democrat Senate leadership is planning to move forward with a cap-and-trade bill, which would drastically limit levels of greenhouse gases that electrical, industrial, and transportation sectors can emit, tax them for what they do emit, and slap them with hefty fines if they exceed those emissions levels.

“Such a bill would put the brakes on our already slowed economy, forcing industries and businesses to slash jobs and to pass their taxes onto individuals and families in the form of price increases on commodities and energy. This would make it even more difficult for America to climb out of its current economic troubles. Making this worse, the whole basis for the policy — catastrophic human-induced global warming — is not even settled among scientists, who are growing increasingly skeptical, especially since we have been experiencing a decade-long cooling trend.”

— From email sent by Dr. Richard Land, President of The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission Southern Baptist Convention, March 23, 2009.


As we have written before, the proposal to set a market-based cap on America’s global warming pollution is not a tax. No matter how times they say it, it’s still not true.

In fact, the cap-and-trade idea came out of a concern that a pure tax would not solve our global warming problem and that we needed a better, more flexible policy solution.

A tax is a blunt policy instrument that sets a cost for pollution and charges companies for the amount of pollution they emit. But if a company is willing to pay, they just keep on polluting.

A cap, on the other hand, is an incentives-based policy that sets an economy-wide pollution limit and rewards businesses that meet or exceed the cap. A polluter is required to buy pollution credits only if it is unable to cut emissions to the level set by the cap. And the cap insures that the pollution is held in check.

To put it in simple terms, a tax is a stick with no carrot. A cap is a carrot with a stick.

More on the difference between a cap and a tax.

And, here is a Wall Street Journal op-ed by EDF President Fred Krupp offering more details on the advantages of a cap vs. a tax.

As for the statement that a bill to cap America’s global warming pollution will put the brakes on our economic recovery, this too is false.

We know three things about the cost of global warming action:

And, there is growing evidence that capping carbon will help unleash a green energy revolution, put Americans back to work, and create a powerful engine for long-term economic growth.

Finally, when it comes to whether global warming science is “not settled,” we respectfully suggest Dr. Land stick to discussing America’s spiritual and religious policies and leave debating science to scientists.

The truth is that the basic science of global warming – that burning fossil fuels is increasing the concentration of carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere and creating a global greenhouse effect – is widely accepted [pdf] and has been known for a long time.

The only scientific debate still in play is whether the planet will get a lot hotter or catastrophically hotter. Either way, we believe it is well past time for the U.S. Congress to pass strong legislation to cap and reduce America’s global warming emissions.

Dr. Land and his supporters may have other reasons to oppose global warming action. But, the reasons offered in his action alert email are just not true.

Having said that, we look forward to working with people of all faiths to solve this crisis, protect vulnerable communities here in the U.S. and around the world, and serve as stewards of the Earth and all its living things.

This entry was posted in News. Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.