Based on current U.S. subsidies to promote non-CO2 emission vehicle purchases, what would be the cost to the U.S. taxpayers for supporting a goal of avoiding a +0.01°C global warming increase?
The answer? Over $40 trillion.
To simplify this example, we compare a modern all-electric vehicle (aEV), the Nissan Leaf, to a modern high MPG gas vehicle, the Nissan Versa. Customers are provided a very large tax subsidy for the former, while the latter receives none. (Substitute any all-electric vehicle for the aEV Leaf and any high MPG gas auto for the Versa and the issues remain the same.)
In order to achieve the goal of 0.01°C potential reduction in global warming, how many Leafs would need to be bought instead of the Versa vehicle? And how much would that cost the American taxpayers?
Summary: Some 5.6 billion Leafs would need to be purchased, putting Americans on the the hook for $42 trillion in subsidies.
For those interested, we now go to the arithmetic behind those two answers. (Here is a different analysis approach to the same issue.)
The modern gasoline Nissan Versa achieves a 35mpg rating; with each gallon burnt producing 19 pounds of CO2. If on average, each Versa is driven 12,000 miles per year, a total of 342.85 gallons would be consumed. That amount of gas gallons equals 6,515 pounds of CO2, which converts to 2.96 metric tonnes of CO2 per year per the average driven Versa.
Since 1850, through the end of 2013, there has been 1.44 trillion metric tonnes of CO2 emissions. During that same span, the average annual global temperature has increased by +0.86°C. By dividing this temperature increase by the total metric tonnes of CO2 emissions since 1850, it is determined that one CO2 metric tonne is associated with an increased global temperature of 0.0000000000006.
Put another way, each CO2 tonne hypothetically equates with 6 ten-trillionths of a degree (C). And that means each Versa's 2.96 tonnes of emissions would hypothetically equate to a temperature impact of 18 trillionths of a degree, per year.
How many Versas would have to be sold (instead of the CO2 clean Leaf) to equate to a +0.01°C increase?
5.6 billion Versas.
Now flip the coin. To avoid a 0.01 degree increase, Americans would have to buy 5.6 billion Nissan Leafs, instead of the Versas. For Americans, that's a 'Leaf' in every pot, garage, attic, bedroom, basement and all bathrooms, so to speak. (Hey good news!...only 560 million need to be sold if each vehicle survives 10 years; of course, the batteries will wear out way before then.)
And each and every one of those Leafs would potentially get a $7,500 tax credit, paid for by the American taxpayer - amounting to a $42+ trillion cost for reducing potential warming by a hypothetical 0.01 degree.
Of course, there are other all-electric vehicles sold in the U.S. that are also available with the hefty tax credit. Since 2010, when the $7,500.00 tax credit began, there has been an estimated 100,000 all-electric vehicles sold in the US. A tiny dirt clod on the mountain of 5.6 billion needed. The aEV niche market remains very tiny, for a lot of reasons.
If the 100,000 number is accurate, then it would appear that Americans have already subsidized some $750 million on this 'green' fiasco in order to achieve a hypothetical future temperature reduction, which can't even be globally measured - that's a lot of $$$-something for absolutely climate nothing.
This is just another example of the hugely stupid and expensive 'green' policies that politicians have saddled the American taxpayer with.
Why did this happen?
Frankly, it's mostly due to the mainstream press fanning the flames of mass climate doomsday-cult hysteria. Instead of journalists producing sober and reasoned reporting, they drank the cult's global warming 'kool-aid' and became cheerleaders of wildly irresponsible reporting - essentially hysterical, anti-science claims. (Here's a recent example of mainstream media's insane global warming doomsday-cult style of reporting.)
Prior to this legislation being passed by legislators pressured by special interest groups, journalists could have been investigating the empirical evidence and doing the calculations themselves. Their research would have generated tough questions that could have been posed to the politicos and bureaucrats, forcing a rational and scientific debate. However, it would seem, the "journalists" did no due diligence other than reading and then reporting verbatim the press releases of special interest groups.
So, instead of $750 million flowing into research dealing with, say, children's cancer, Alzheimers, ebola and other important scientific endeavors, the hundreds of millions went to crony-capitalists and the very wealthy. Sadly, even more of this taxpayer lucre will flow for each new aEV sold with no meaningful climate result.
Helloooo, Washington D.C.... maybe new legislative commonsense rules should be imposed for any future 'green' policies and regulations to be considered.
An example: no legislation will even be considered unless the scientific empirical evidence (not computer models/simulations) confirms that any new policy/rule/subsidy will achieve a global warming reduction of at least 0.01 degree within 10 years for a cost that does not exceed $10 billion/year for taxpayers and consumers. 10 years at $10 billion is a $100 billion cost, which is still a ludicrous, mind-boggling amount for such a measly result.
(If readers have ideas for new common sense rules that Congress should commit to in order to avoid any more costly 'green' stupidity, leave a comment or two.
And BTW politicos...if wealthy Americans want to certify their own 'greeness' they can start paying for it on their own dime, not steal from the wallets of less fortunate Americans.
Note: Supposedly, the ludicrously large tax credit for all-EVs is going to expire. The likelihood of this incredible waste of taxpayer money being ended is extremely low since few Washington politicians possess the courage to vote against the powerful corporate welfare lobbyists, while also ending the subsidies to the wealthy purchasers of the Nissan Leaf, Tesla and other aEV cars.
The CO2 emissions expended to manufacture a Nissan Leaf are not included in this analysis; nor the CO2 emissions used to charge the Leaf every night/day; nor the other significant environmental impacts and costs associated with producing batteries for an aELV; nor the taxpayer loans (ie. cost) car aEV companies like Nissan received from the US government.
Download an Excel spreadsheet with pertinent data and calculations used to determine Versa CO2 production, temp impact and taxpayer dollars per 0.01 degree.