Pittsburgh’s ‘Climate Action Plan’ bingo

Pittsburgh’s ‘Climate Action Plan’ bingo

The City of Pittsburgh’s latest “Climate Action Plan” is out. Dubbed as “Version 3.0,” it vows to slash energy and water use. City Council adopted the plan 8-0 (with one abstention) last week.

As the Post-Gazette reports it, “the city government will attempt to rely on 100 percent renewable energy, switch to a vehicle fleet of fossil fuel and divest from fossil-fuel companies,” among other things.

The 101-page report is filled with the expected “progressive” jargon of the “climate change” alarmists, led off by the hardly settled assertion that “climate change is a major threat” that has and will continue to wreak havoc on our weather, our health and our food supplies unless government acts.

Of course, silliness abounds in the report. To wit, livestock production is high on the plan’s overview list of contributory causes to “climate change.” Then there’s reliance on a dubious American Lung Association assessment of particulate pollution. (More on that coming Thursday in Policy Brief Vol. 18, No. 21.)

Equally troubling is a proposal that appears to allow government to lord over residential energy and water use that more than whispers “Orwellian.”

Then there’s talk of a need for “education” of the populace. Why is it that when “education” is juxtaposed with “climate change” that the word “indoctrination” comes to mind?

Now, to be fair, there are a number of commonsense recommendations that promote self-reliance. Think of growing one’s own garden, for example. Think, too, of conservation measures that don’t require the ruse of “climate change” to be practiced.

But all this said, while there’s much talk of employing new policies that will promote conservation of natural resources and talk of savings, there’s virtually no cost-benefit analysis of doing so.

From the report:

“Protecting and improving the urban ecosystem in the City of Pittsburgh will provide many benefits to its residents, businesses and communities beyond reducing the impact of climate change.

“Natural ecosystems can not only provide climate benefits but also make our city healthy and more livable. Creating a resilient urban ecosystem will benefit the environment and property owners as well as local and regional communities and economies.

“A successful process will respect and enhance the relationship between nature and the built environment.”

But this assessment asks us to accept as an article of faith that, first, the touted benefits outpace the costs – costs that, second, are not necessarily detailed.

Page 90 of “Pittsburgh Climate Action Plan 3.0,” one dedicated to, by city ordinance and effective June 1, “benchmarking” the energy and water consumption of larger nonresidential buildings, recounts the adage that “You can’t manage what you can’t measure.”

By the same sentiment, thinking people rightfully will be suspect of such proposals and adjudge them as pigs in a poke when, as this report does, fails to measure any benefits against the costs.

Proposing public policies based on a dubious premise – “climate change” – then heralding all the benefits of spending scarce economic resources – private and public dollars – with no real cost-benefit analysis is anathema to sound public policy.

That little to none is found in Pittsburgh’s latest “climate action plan” suggests the costs would be prohibitive and the “benefits” largely illusory. Why else would the report be so filled with the latter but so bereft of the former?

This all reminds a certain scrivener of a grandmother who, on occasion, would call her daughter to boast of her winnings at bingo. Only when Grandma was forced to admit that she spent nearly twice the amount on cards than she recouped in winnings could a proper assessment be made.

Colin McNickle is a senior fellow and media specialist at the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy (cmcnickle@alleghenyinstitute.org).