A Zero Emission Minnesota Would Have Zero Measurable Impact on Global Temperatures

The upcoming legislative session will no doubt center heavily on budget negotiations, but it is also likely that Governor Walz will continue to push forward with his plan to mandate that 100 percent of Minnesota’s electricity come from carbon-free resources by 2050.

While Governor Walz may talk about how many tons of carbon dioxide could potentially be averted by his plan, it is unlikely he will ever attempt to quantify how much global warming these policies will avert because doing so would show that his proposals will impose massive costs on all Minnesota families and businesses for zero measurable environmental benefits.

According to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, Minnesota emitted approximately 154.2 million tons of greenhouse gasses in 2016, but we could reduce these emissions to zero and still make no measurable difference to future global temperatures. To calculate the temperature impact of a carbon-free Minnesota, we can use the same logic used by the Obama Administration to craft the Clean Power Plan (CPP), which was widely considered to be the administration’s signature climate change initiative.

The CPP would have averted 730 million tons of carbon dioxide annually, which in turn would have averted 0.019 degrees C by 2100, according to the Obama administration’s own climate models. This amount is too small to accurately measure with even the most sophisticated scientific equipment.

Reducing our annual emissions from 154 million tons to zero tons would avert 21 percent of the reductions from the Clean Power Plan. We can then determine the temperature impact of the regulation by multiplying 0.019 degrees C by 21 percent, which gives us a temperature reduction of 0.004 degrees C by 2100, an amount far too small to measure.

It is also important to remember that these temperature reductions will occur on a global scale, and they do not necessarily reflect the changes in temperatures we can expect in Minnesota.

On the contrary, research from Harvard shows that wind turbines can greatly increase surface warming, especially at night, by mixing warmer air columns in higher parts of the atmosphere with cooler air at ground level. The Harvard study also demonstrates that the warming that accompanies the use of wind turbines also greatly exceeds the amount of warming that would be averted from a completely eliminated all greenhouse gas emissions from the states.