by Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger
In reality, the environmental lobby massively outspent its opponents. In just the last two years, by our rough estimate environmental organizations and philanthropies spent somewhere north of $1 billion dollars advocating for climate action. In contrast, the
The propensity to blame skeptics and fossil fuel companies for the serial political failures of the environmental movement should be understood as a tribal defense of the collective green ego, not the logical conclusion of a dispassionate analysis.
And so carbon caps and the soft energy path were repackaged as economic and jobs policy despite little evidence those policies would, on balance, create jobs. In fact, most credible economic models of proposed cap and trade policies, including those produced by government agencies, predicted the opposite. While green groups mostly ignored that evidence and plunged ahead with the cap and trade effort, the jobs question was more than academic. There were real economic consequences to proposals to cap carbon emissions and those consequences had profound political implications for the effort that environmentalists were not going to spin their way out of.
From that point on, the national cap and trade debate was nothing more than Kabuki theatre, with advocates claiming the proposed legislation would significantly reduce emissions and create millions of jobs, and opponents claiming it would wreck the economy. In reality, it would have done neither. Neither the version that passed the House nor the one that died in the Senate would have had much impact on emissions or the nation's energy system for decades.