NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


February 28, 2006

The great weakness of the Kyoto protocol is that it focuses emission limits primarily upon the developed world. Even the supporters of the concept acknowledge this flaw, says Mac Johnson, a writer and medical researcher in Cambridge, Mass.

The modern economies of the West are the target of many regulations and taxes geared toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions. However, the West boasts the greatest production efficiency -- generating wealth with fewer resources and less waste. Proportionately less harmful greenhouse gases exist as a result, says Johnson.

When calculating metric tons of carbon emissions required for one thousand dollars of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the West wins, explains Johnson:

  • Europe and the United States use .13 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions to produce $1,000 of GDP.
  • Even regions with little modern economic activity, such as Latin America, Africa and Southeast Asia require more emissions to produce $1,000 of GDP than do Europe and the United States.
  • India and China, two rapidly developing regions that would be the probable new sites of much of the economic activity forced out of the West by Kyoto-style burdens, are remarkably less efficient, with India at .49 metric tons per $1,000 and China at .7 metric tons per $1,000.
  • The former Soviet Bloc nations require 1.29 metric tons to produce $1,000 of GDP.

Europe, North America and the Asian rim exhibit much greater efficiency than economies of the developing world, says Johnson.

Burdening western economies with emissions regulations and taxes will simply move economic activity out of the West and into the developing regions. At best, the site of gas emission changes while total emissions remain constant. More likely, however, total emissions will increase, says Johnson.

Source: Mac Johnson, "Kyoto Would Hurt Efficient Economics," Human Events Newspaper, no. 62, January, 30, 2006.

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