NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


March 23, 2007

The United States is making more significant progress than Europe in cutting both greenhouse gas intensity and gross emissions, says Kurt Volker, the U.S. principal deputy assistant secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs.

According to Volker:

  • Greenhouse gas emissions per unit of gross domestic product declined by 7.5 percent in the United States from 2000 to 2004, the most recent period for which reliable data have been assembled.
  • The European Union (EU) reduced its greenhouse gas intensity by only 4.5 percent in the same time span.
  • Just as importantly, while overall U.S. greenhouse gas emissions grew by 1.3 percent from 2000 to 2004, total EU emissions grew at 2.1 percent, a 50 percent more rapid pace.

However, those numbers don't tell the entire story, says Volker:

  • The EU number was held down by several smaller and less affluent nations that recently joined the Union; total emissions in the 15 long-standing members of the EU rose by 2.4 percent, roughly double the U.S. increase, from 2000 to 2004.
  • Significant gains in U.S. population and total economic growth caused the slight increase in overall U.S. greenhouse gas emissions despite the impressive reduction in greenhouse gas intensity.

Overall, the U.S. strategy of investing in new technology and encouraging private enterprise to take the lead in reducing emissions is producing better results than the European command-and-control strategy of passing mandatory caps but failing to encourage market solutions, Volker noted.

"The hard data show that Kyoto is a paper tiger," noted Sterling Burnett, senior fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis.  "You have got words on paper and they are not worth a thing if the actions don't correspond. U.S. businesses are succeeding where European bureaucracies are failing."

Source: James Hoare, "U.S. Cutting Emissions Faster than Europe," Environment News, Heartland Institute, April 1, 2007.


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