January 19, 2006

Kyoto Bad

ThreeSources readers will be shocked, shocked, to learn that European nations are "all mouth and no trousers (as the brits say)" when it comes to treaties. In this instance, it is Kyoto.

President Bush garnered howls from the "International Community," environmentalists, and his domestic political enemies when he admitted that the US was not going to sign (the 0-95 vote in Al Gore's Senate was deemed inconclusive).

Yet the WSJ Ed Page reports that the US is doing much better than the signatory countries in reducing the rate of growth of CO2:

Let's go to the latest numbers from the European Environment Agency in Copenhagen. Most European countries have seen an increase in greenhouse gas emissions since signing Kyoto with great fanfare in 1997. No fewer than 13 out of the 15 original EU signatories are on track to miss their 2010 emissions targets -- by as much as 33 percentage points, in the case of Spain.

Or consider Denmark, home of the EU's environmental watchdog. Rather than reduce levels by 21% as the accord stipulates, Denmark has so far notched a 6.3% increase in emissions since 1990, the base year used in Kyoto. The likely gap between its Kyoto commitment and its emissions levels projected for 2010 is 25.2 percentage points.

The U.S. dropped its signature from Kyoto because arbitrary emissions targets are both pointless and economically damaging. No proof exists that lower emissions reduce global warming. The idea that human activity influences climate change one way or another is far from proven, given the overwhelming role nature itself plays in atmospheric changes. And if the warming trend of recent decades continues -- by no means a certainty -- it might well be a boon to humanity.

US emissions are up 15.8%, far less than the countries that are berating us -- although we've the highest economic growth. And that is the real problem:
The nonsense that passes for debate at U.N. gabfests isn't news. But it is newsworthy that Kyoto's arbitrary targets were mainly cant. Countries that reduce those emissions potentially damaging to health or property do so by investing in cleaner technology. That is possible because of policies that promote economic growth and business investment. Unhampered by Kyoto targets, America's economy is more nimble and better able to adapt to changing technology. We knew Kyoto was bad for the global economy. It turns out it's bad for the environment as well.

UPDATE: Here are links to the postings in mdmhvonpa's comments: Kyoto, American Style and Northeast US Kyoto Redux. The first has a table on all developed countries.

Oil and Energy Posted by John Kranz at January 19, 2006 11:26 AM