"The overall goal of the Weatherization Assistance Program is to reduce the burden of energy prices on the disadvantaged." US Department of Energy. "Weatherization Assistance Program Goals and Metrics"
Only when we get sufficiently rich can we afford the relative luxury of caring about the environment… higher income in general is correlated with higher environmental sustainability.” Skeptical Environmentalist, 32-33
Global Priority List for Spending Extra Resources, source: Copenhagen Consensus
For Lomborg, we will only be able to withstand climate change risks if we can effect greater human prosperity.
“Most of this world's population is poor and they're ill-prepared to deal with any contingency that the world throws at them. What we need to focus on is not just adaption specifically for climate change, which is a small part of the problems most people live with right now, but simply making better lives for people that is focusing on getting them more food, getting them better healthcare and making sure their kids get educated
.” Cutting Carbon Emissions Won't Stop Climate Change
When asked if it was possible to separate climate change from issues like health, food security or a safe water supply, Lomborg responded: “We don't need to separate them in the sense that we probably all agree we should tackle some of the really big problems that are out there right now. I'm simply concerned that many people latch on to talking about global warming and that the most important this is spending money on adaptation to global warming.
“But the main problem … is not future sea-level rises, it's the fact that the countries are so poor right now that they are already getting inundated. It's not about climate proofing it in 100 years, it's about dealing with the vulnerability to climate right now, which has nothing to do with climate change but simply something to do with them being very poor. It's more about an emphasis on focusing where you can actually deal with real problems right now rather than a possible problem in 100 years.” Cutting Carbon Emissions Won't Stop Climate Change
Even if we invest, at today's costs, in coastal protection, “the environmental world will likely see more people flooded, simply because it will be poorer and therefore less able to defend itself against rising waters” Cool It, 69
. Lomborg puts the cost of this basic coastal protection at 0.1 percent of GDP for 180 of the world’s 192 affected costal countries. According to Lomborg’s research, costly climate reforms would reduce sea-level rise in 2080 by one-third, at a cost of $20,000 per person.
The priority, then, should be improving human health and prosperity. “Most of this world's population is poor and they're ill-prepared to deal with any contingency that the world throws at them. What we need to focus on is not just adaption specifically for climate change, which is a small part of the problems most people live with right now, but simply making better lives for people, that is, focusing on getting them more food, getting them better healthcare and making sure their kids get educated.” Cutting Carbon Emissions Won't Stop Climate Change
SSBx brought the health impacts of power plants to the fore at state level task forces such as the New York State Climate Action Council, and at Public Service Commission sessions on peaking power plants. Jaime Stein, Environmental Policy Analyst, explains the peaking power efforts: “About two years ago we were asked to participate in the Public Service Commission, which is the State Agency that oversees all utilities... The majority of our energy is through in-city generation. We're a densely populated urban space that has generation happening right next door to residences. So, that generation is owned and operated and profited from by an aggregate of generators called the Independent Power Producers of New York. So with Con Edison, the Public Service Commission, DEC, NYSERDA, and the Independent Power Producers of New York, we participated in this effort around peaking power plants.... This is a perfect example of where [grassroots and top-down thinking] come together: the grassroots folks that exist are the environmental justice communities. ...
“And when you're present in these discussions, you're blown away at the reaction to you saying, "Oh, well, actually the dirtiest peaking power plant is right next door to a school, and hey, one out of three kids has asthma." It is just amazing that the people that own and operate this type of equipment -- and I'm not going to get too negative -- don't really think about the burden that what they're doing puts on the local community
. … You constantly have to say, "No, your emissions are directly linked to triggering asthma. And yes, there are all these other emissions, but we have to start somewhere, and you're highly regulated, and that's why we're talking to you." Jaime Stein, Underdome Interview
SSBx brings to the table a critique of the way cost-benefit analysis (CBA) weighs 'social cost.' Stein explains this process in the Climate action Plan (http://nyclimatechange.us/): “The Climate Action Plan is still relatively new. We're at the stage now when we're weighing every single possible policy... to decrease emissions. Everything is in there from the most egregious carbon capture and storage policy, like pumping it into the Gowanus Canal or something like that, to the very sunshiny solar panels everywhere.... It’s an interesting process right now because over the next month we have to start to prioritize and do cost-benefit analysis around each of those policies.
“And this is another very interesting thing because “cost-benefit analysis” means something very different to an independent power producer than to somebody that represents the community. Just yesterday... they said, "Well, this is the societal cost." I said, "No, it's not. This is the taxpayers' money.
That's what we're saying here. Let's not mix those terms." Somebody from environmental justice, or somebody from a community, an everyday person, when they hear “societal costs,” they don't think “Well, it costs 26 million dollars to capture a ton of C02 in tanks.” No, what if that gets released? What are we talking about then? So, what is going to get really interesting is how we integrate health impacts, social benefits, and all those things into their cost curves, which I see as a huge challenge." Jaime Stein, Underdome Interview
How can these 'costs' be accounted for?
“You can quantify health care and health care costs, and you can also quantify early childhood education and incarceration costs, like how one dollar spent on early childhood education can save three dollars in incarceration. There are groups that are starting to think about how to speak in the terms that cost benefit analysis people speak in.” Jaime Stein, Underdome Interview