Will World Join U.S. in Cutting Emissions?

June 9, 2014

Persuading other countries to follow the United States' example of cutting carbon emissions will not be an easy task. As the Wall Street Journal reports, developing countries attempting to industrialize are going to be resistant to policies that would require emissions cuts.

According to Connie Hedegaard, commissioner for climate action in the European Commission, the latest proposal from the EPA to reduce power plant emissions would mean that domestic carbon emissions in the U.S. would be reduced by 3 percent to 4 percent over the period between 1990 and 2020. The EU, which operates a massive cap-and-trade program, is on track to see a 24 percent emissions decline over that 30-year period.

Stephen Eule, vice president of the Institute for 21st Century Energy, says that the U.S. emissions plan will ultimately have no impact. "No matter what your view of climate change," he said, "these [U.S.] reductions will be dwarfed by increased emissions in other parts of the world." For every single ton of carbon dioxide that is reduced due to the EPA's proposal, there will be an increase of six to seven tons of carbon dioxide elsewhere, says Eule.

Many believe that the United States' influence on climate policy will be tested in 2015, when governments from around the world meet to develop a global pact to reduce carbon emissions beyond 2020. It is not clear that developing nations will agree to cuts. One senior environmental official in India was quoted as saying that the U.S. first needed to prove that it was willing to make tough choices before it asks developing countries to impose high-cost regulations. According to the Wall Street Journal, the Indian official said, "Carbon emissions in the U.S. are significantly more than emissions by India. The U.S. is a developed country and should do a 60% to 70% emission cut."

Source: Gautam Naik, "Will Developing World Join EPA Push for Carbon Cuts?" Wall Street Journal, June 3, 2014.

 

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