California is wrong model for world on climate

A participant puts posters on a miniature Eiffel Tower during a protest Wednesday against the first draft of United Nations climate conference agreement.
A participant puts posters on a miniature Eiffel Tower during a protest Wednesday against the first draft of United Nations climate conference agreement. The Associated Press

This week, roughly 40 representatives from California are joining leaders from around the world at the United Nations conference on climate change, as political elites try to impose a universal agreement to fight global warming.

Unfortunately, representatives from the United States – and especially from California – are not serving the best interests of the American people. The California delegation is showcasing the state as a model of “progressive climate policy,” but delegates in Paris would do well to avoid the destructive path California has chosen.

The climate agenda being pursued in California is one of high taxes and stringent regulations that are hampering cheap and abundant forms of energy while propping up costly ones at taxpayer expense. It may please activist billionaires (who don’t seem to have a problem producing their own massive carbon footprint), but it is increasing unemployment, poverty and income inequality in the state.

California has one of the highest jobless rates in the country. Poverty is a staggering 16 percent. Income inequality, a great bogeyman of the left, is worse in California than in all but three other states. California routinely sits at the bottom of lists ranking business environments because of its tax and regulatory policies.

As a result, millions have fled the state. According to federal data, California lost more than $54 billion in taxable income from 1992 to 2014. That’s $5,000 a minute and is second only to New York – another bastion of “progressive” economic policy.

Gov. Jerry Brown and former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger traveled to Paris to impart California’s wisdom on the rest of the planet. That will be a tough sell, especially when most states in this country have rejected these extreme measures.

President Barack Obama is using every means in his power to enact an environmental agenda that is slowing down our economy. Now he is asking Congress for billions of dollars to subsidize the economies of other countries to encourage them to pursue policies that are ultimately not in the best interests of their own people.

Access to cheap, abundant and reliable energy sources such as coal, oil, and natural gas is one of the single most important factors in accelerating human progress – lifting people from poverty, improving their quality of life and creating greater opportunity.

That is precisely what millions in India, sub-Saharan Africa and other parts of the world desperately need. But the Obama administration and the California delegation are pushing those countries to clamp down on coal and other affordable energy while investing in unsustainable “green energy” instead.

Here at home, regulations such as Obama’s Clean Power Plan threaten to increase energy costs while having no impact on the climate. The labyrinth of red tape at every level of government makes it more complicated than ever to do business. Perhaps most ironically, attempts to ban fracking are making it more difficult to access natural gas – never mind the fact that it is the increased use of natural gas, not the billions of taxpayer dollars spent propping up green energy, that is actually helping to improve America’s emissions, since gas is “cleaner” than coal.

The free market creates solutions government bureaucrats never could, but the central planners in California, in Washington, D.C., and Paris would rather not take the chance. The greatest resource we have on this planet is people. For their sake, instead of replicating the California model, it should stand as an example of failure in this once-Golden State.

David Spady is California director of Americans for Prosperity, a free-market advocacy group based in Arlington, Va., that receives some funding from the oil and gas industries.