If you dig down a few layers through the US State Department website, you will come across a Press Release from February 2010 where the USA pledged to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.
Todd Stern, Special Envoy for Climate Change Washington, DC
February 4, 2010
Special Envoy Stern: We are pleased to be among 55 countries – including all of the world’s major economies — that have submitted pledges to limit or reduce their greenhouse gas emissions under the Copenhagen Accord. These countries represent nearly 80% of global emissions. In supporting the Accord, we are taking an important step in the global effort to combat climate change.
In addition to the countries that have submitted targets or actions, a number of others have conveyed their support for the Accord. We urge all countries to join this broad coalition by promptly conveying their support for the Accord to the UNFCCC Secretariat.
The Copenhagen Accord includes important advances on funding, technology, forestry, adaptation and transparency. The United States is committed to working with our partners around the world to make the Accord operational and to continue the effort to build a strong, science-based, global regime to combat the profound threat of climate change.
I have commented on the commitment in previous postings, but just to be reminded of what was said, here is a copy of the letter sent by the US to the UNFCCC.
Last week the US EIA released the latest greenhouse gas emission figures and they show that the country is well on track to meet this pledge, even though there is no formal program in place to ensure delivery.
Following the sharp recession led drop, two continuing drivers for the change are the drop in coal emissions as older coal fired power plants close and the fall in automotive emissions due to tougher vehicle efficiency standards and the continuing higher oil price. As expected, natural gas emissions have risen as this fuel replaces coal in power generation, but with less than half the carbon footprint of the coal.
This trend could well continue over the coming years as further coal capacity is closed in response to the combination of EPA air quality regulation, expected greenhouse gas regulation and the growing supply of natural gas. In addition, CAFE standards should ensure further improvements in vehicle efficiency.
My original analysis of this trend produced the following chart. Two years on and we still seem to be at least in the same ballpark.
US development shows that carbon trading is a nonsense. US drops CO2 emissions via implementation of carbon regulation (including taxation) and new technology (gas production). They are also consuming so much energy that they can easily become much more efficient (smaller cars). Also energy intensive industry is moving to more energy friendly countries.
Situation in China is different – they are focusing on economic growth (investing into coal power) and it is unlikely they will ever voluntarily limit themselves. They will always stay outside any CO2 regulation.
The third path is the one chosen by Europe. They want to limit CO2 emissions for ideological reason, but they are already quite efficient to do that with slight changes (less SUVs on the roads). They can’t switch to gas and they’ve chosen not to develop nuclear power. The only way to decrease CO2 emissions is via economic decline (while using inefficient technologies like solar & wind power, CCS, biofuels etc.).
It is quite possible that European cities will be soon flooded with motorbikes and bicycles rather than big SUVs. All the government has to do is to gradually increase (direct and indirect) tax on petrol and diesel. This is the path chosen by EU elites and it is obviously not very popular with CO2 trading lobbyists.
I’ve looked at DECC scenarios for decarbonisation and it is scary reading indeed. They’ve already achieved that UK fossil fuel production is dropping, energy prices rising and economy shrinking. But there is more to come. Their scenarios are obviously heavily dependent on increased efficiency and energy conservation, electric cars and nuclear energy which would quickly become dominant source of power from 16 to 60% share (starting in 2015). CCS also plays increased role. What is striking is the assumed price of carbon reaching £500/tCO2 (and above) by 2050.
Clearly, energy companies would benefit. But, who is going to pay for that? As of 2012 the situation is truly pathetic. Carbon price collapsed, CCS is going nowhere and even the workhorse nuclear power is in standstill. Scotland is building unreliable wind draining subsidies from England. And the whole UK is increasingly relying on Norwegian gas and extremely expensive LNG.
DECC plans are clearly a pipedream falling into pieces few years after they are being created. Energy prices are soaring and economy struggling. Sorry, but I can make a better national plan this afternoon.
This might be the future for US. Energy independence. David Hone can easily confirm David Middleton’s numbers. Shell is heavily involved in in the Gulf, Alaska and US Oil Shale. All he needs to do is to speak to his Shell coleagues outside the CO2 bubble. Oil shale recovery is around 90% and the deposits are simply gargantuous.
Obviously, if tranposrtation can be efficiently converted to electric or gas then the oil consumption would drop.
I would be interested to have your views on my response to this blog post, which you can read here: http://blog.wwf.eu/2012/09/19/mixed-up-messages-on-cutting-carbon/
Project Officer, Climate and Energy Team, WWF European Policy Office
Thanks for the comment and posting. I agree that normal market forces will not address this issue – not even a bit. After all, the issue is a result of a market failure. Very simply, we need a substantive price on carbon in the energy system to make the change necessary – sufficient to drive the roll out of CCS (which doesn’t mean it will drive CCS, other things may be more cost competitive at that price level). But it is nevertheless good news that US emissions are falling, but worrying that coal exports are rising in that the latter probably means that no real drop in global emissions is actually taking place as a result. But it keeps the US in the game and hopefully at the table such that a real carbon pricing mechanism can be introduced.
It is bit scary to see the logic of WWF man. He sees CO2 beeing sort of weapon of mass destruction. He wants biding agreement to limit numbers of this “weapon” produced. But, he fails to see that this weapon is an ultimate tool for human and civilisation survival – energy. For thousands of years civilisation with more resources survived and dominated the other less efficient civilisation. The current “wise men” want to change this. It is like changing genetic code of humanity and the result can be unpredictible. I don’t think they have a chance to make this initiative global. The likely outcome is that their civilisation will become less resourcefull and inferior. After all we already see signs of collapsing climate science – their main tool. It becomes more and more politized with less real science within. Becoming platform for indoctrination rather than beeing drive to expand knowledge. Is it what’s going to happen with all science and industry in the “green coutries”? We shall see.