Victor J. Donnay of Bryn Mawr admits he joined in the booing and hissing of American delegates to the recent Bali conference on climate change:
I am not surprised that delegates at the U.N. climate change conference in Bali booed and hissed the American delegation. I had exactly the same reaction, with some screaming in anger and frustration thrown in, when I read of the EPA's decision to prevent California and other states from enacting stricter vehicle emission standards ("Pa., N.J. to join suit over EPA rule," Dec. 21).
The federal government's claim that such local initiatives are unnecessary and interfere with the federal government's national efforts is laughable. The Bush administration has done everything in its power over the last seven years to stall and prevent meaningful action to curb climate change. To paraphrase Kevin Conrad, a delegate from Papua New Guinea at the U.N. conference, "If you are not willing to lead, leave it to the rest of us. Get the hell out of the way."
Let's just see about that "stall and prevent meaningful action to curb climate change" statement, shall we?
International Energy Agency data show that over the past 7 years (2000-2006), the annual rate of increase for U.S. CO2 emissions is approximately one-third of the EU's rate of increase. Indeed, over the same period even the smaller EU-15 economy has increased its CO2 emissions in actual volume greater than the U.S. by more than 20%, even while the U.S. economy and population also grew more rapidly.
In fact, data show that U.S. greenhouse gas emissions fell by 1.3 percent in 2006 despite the fact that the U.S. economy grew by 3.3 percent that year. This is significant validation of the U.S. strategy of addressing global warming through technological innovation and market-friendly measures rather than costly, rigid emissions reduction targets. (Link.)
The truth is that those developed nations that actually ratified Kyoto - including those countries whose diplomats booed the United States - saw their greenhouse-gas emissions go up, not down, by 4 percent from 2000 to 2004. In Germany and Britain, the only two major economies to register reductions, emissions fell due to factors having nothing to do with Kyoto or global warming.
When you remove Germany and Britain from the calculation, European emissions rose 10 percent between 1990 and 2005. (Link.)
The Kyoto treaty was agreed upon in late 1997 and countries started signing and ratifying it in 1998. A list of countries and their carbon dioxide emissions due to consumption of fossil fuels is available from the U.S. government. If we look at that data and compare 2004 (latest year for which data is available) to 1997 (last year before the Kyoto treaty was signed), we find the following.
- Emissions worldwide increased 18.0%.
- Emissions from countries that signed the treaty increased 21.1%.
- Emissions from non-signers increased 10.0%.
- Emissions from the U.S. increased 6.6%.
In fact, emissions from the U.S. grew slower than those of over 75% of the countries that signed Kyoto. (Link.)
I particularly like the title of the middle article linked above -- "What the U.N. can learn from Google." I could probably title this post "What dopey letter writers can learn from Google," eh? That, or "Remember that old saying: 'Actions always speak louder than words.'" (For a few more examples, click here and here.)