Climate change inconvenient truth: US is only responsible for a small and decreasing fraction of carbon dioxide emissions
posted at 2/13/2013 6:29 PM EST
Even assuming there is manmade 'climate change" and even assuming government action can have any impact, what is clear is US policy on its own is irrelevant and can make no difference. The usual liberal moral preening will follow these factual statements, no doubt.
Carbon dioxide emissions from the United States declined in 2012 and now stand at a level on par with what they were back in 1994. U.S. carbon dioxide emissions have dropped about 13 percent from their high in 2007. (Thanks to the fracking revolution, use of cleaner natural gas is on the rise...subsidized green energy solar and wind are failures with zero impact.)
All the while, global carbon dioxide emissions have been on the rise—primarily fueled by rapid emissions growth in developing countries, namely China (which is responsible for about two-thirds of the global increase during the past decade).
Since carbon dioxide is well-mixed in the atmosphere, who actually emits it is of little consequence when it comes to its potential to lead to global warming. This means that the global percentage of a country’s annual carbon dioxide emissions is equivalent to its annual percentage contribution to the increased warming pressure (we use the term “warming pressure” to indicate that things other than the atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases also act to influence that global average temperature from one year to the next). Since total global carbon dioxide emissions are quickly distancing themselves from U.S. emissions, as time passes, the relative influence of U.S. emissions on the future state of the global climate is rapidly declining.
We recently showed that the United States will be responsible for only about two-tenths of a degree Celsius of total global warming by the end of this century, or about 7 percent of the total projected warming—an amount hardly worth worrying about. The rest of the world will be responsible for the other 93 percent.
So when the president promises to “respond to the threat of climate change,” domestic actions will have virtually no impact—and yet those are the ones that are being put on the table with proposals like cap and trade, carbon taxes, emissions limits on new power plants, and actions like fuel economy standards, renewable energy subsidies, ethanol requirements, etc.
What the president really hopes to achieve by trying to force down U.S. emissions is not direct climate change mitigation, but one or more of the following: to gain some bargaining power at international talks to address climate change; that other countries will follow the United States’ lead; or that new, lower emitting energy technologies will be developed and rapidly and safely deployed around the world.
There is no guarantee of these outcomes. For instance, developing countries may find it to be more in their interest to energize their economies and their citizenry through low cost and proven methods (i.e., fossil fuels) than submit to a we’ve-got-ours-but-now-you-can’t-have-yours dictate. Or new, low-emitting energy technologies may be developed without the extra incentives.
But in any case, the United States receives no direct climate benefits until, or unless, the rest of the world makes sizeable greenhouse gas emissions reductions. (assuming again, that greenhouse gases do result in climate change.....)
It seems rather bizarre that our own president would support actions aimed at holding Americans hostage to limited energy choices (and quite probably higher energy prices) while hoping that the rest of the world will come to our rescue in the form of reducing carbon dioxide emissions such that future global climate change is reduced to a degree as to result in a significant and detectable mitigation of weather/climate impacts in the United States.