EMISSIONS CONTROL, MYTHS AND REALITIES

June 22, 2009

The United States is having better luck at controlling its emissions than most other countries, without the multi-billion-dollar mandates of the Kyoto anti-global warming treaty, says Drew Thornley, author of a new report, "Energy & the Environment: Myths & Facts," published by the Manhattan Institute.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA):

  • Carbon-dioxide emissions from the combustion of fossil fuels increased 0.7 percent in the United States from 2000 to 2006, far below the worldwide increase of 21.6 percent.
  • During the same period, emissions grew 4.9 percent in Europe, 37.6 percent in the Middle East, and 52.3 percent in Asia.
  • Major developing nations saw big increases; for instance, India, Malaysia and China's emissions increased 27.7 percent, 45.8 percent and 103 percent, respectively.

In 2006, China passed the United States as the world's biggest carbon emitter, and its lead is growing daily:

  • The EIA projects that China's energy-related emissions of carbon dioxide will exceed American emissions by almost 15 percent in 2010 and by 75 percent in 2030.
  • In 1990, China and India together accounted for 13 percent of the world's emissions; in 2005, their contribution was 23 percent; and in 2030, they are expected to account for 34 percent of the world's emissions.

The best-known U.S. carbon-cutting legislation provides a good idea of just how costly such plans run:

  • America's Climate Security Act, also known as the Lieberman-Warner bill, called for emission reductions of 63 percent below the 2005 level by 2050 (President Obama's much more ambitious plan is to cut emissions 83 percent below 2005 levels by 2050.).
  • The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) projected that Lieberman-Warner could, by 2050, lower gross domestic product (GDP) by up to 6.9 percent, increase average gasoline prices by $1.40 per gallon, and raise electricity prices by 26 percent; many private economic estimates were considerably higher.

We have a growing population with growing energy needs.  The last thing we should do is implement policies that will reduce the supply of energy. We need more energy, and we need affordable energy.  Adopting a carbon-cutting regime, à la Kyoto, will give us neither, says Thornley.

Source: Drew Thornley, "Emissions Control, Myths, and Realities," American Enterprise Institute, June 19, 2009.

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