NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


November 17, 2009

In a major blow to the campaign against the presumed threat of global warming, world leaders acknowledge that a legally binding global treaty won't be approved at next month's 192-nation climate conference in Copenhagen, Denmark.

The concession Sunday significantly delays U.N. efforts to orchestrate a treaty to limit greenhouse gases to replace the Kyoto treaty, which expires in 2012.  Nations like the United States and poorer nations share the blame for the missed deadline.  Their concerns are similar to our own, says the Orange County Register:

  • Developed nations are reluctant to limit domestic greenhouse gas emissions for fear of harming their already slumping economies.
  • They also resist subsidizing poorer nations' efforts.
  • Meanwhile, developing nations, like China and India, refuse to adopt restrictions unless wealthier nations like the United States compensate them for the cost.

This could be a long-term standoff, says the Register, because there is an understandable worldwide reluctance to commit what increasingly looks like economic suicide.

According to the National Center for Policy Analysis, a nonprofit organization of energy and environmental policy experts and scientists:

  • The proposed 20-percent greenhouse-gas reduction by 2020 would mean the United States returning to 1977 emission levels, radically changing both the U.S. economy and our personal lives.
  • Car and truck miles traveled would have to be reduced by one-third (or fuel efficiency improved by one-third, difficult to achieve in 10 years), which would seriously reduce travel and transportation, and likely force changes in automobile design that consumers would not like.
  • The amount of coal burned to create electricity would have to be cut in half without feasible alternatives to pick up the slack.

Such concerns so far block congressional efforts.  Senators from industrial, carbon-emitting states are reluctant to impose regulations that will put their constituencies at an economic disadvantage, says the Register.

"If we passed a bill that the rest of the world didn't follow," observed Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), "then Uncle Sam could soon become Uncle Sucker and export all of our jobs to China."

Source: Editorial, "From Copenhagen to Nopenhagen for climate treaty," Orange County Register, November 16, 2009.

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