I’m old enough to remember when we were told that President Trump pulling out of the Paris climate agreement was basically the end of human life on the planet. The world would eventually burn away into a desert and it would be all our fault. Of course, that was then and this is now. Stephen Moore at the Washington Times reviewed the results of the latest BP Statistical Review of World Energy and discovered that America’s place in the global emissions puzzle isn’t living up to our billing as the evil climate change deniers we’re supposed to be. In fact, not only are our emissions not going up, but in 2017 we reduced our emissions more than any other developed country in the world. Go figure.
Take a wild guess what country is reducing its greenhouse gas emissions the most? Canada? Britain? France? India? Germany? Japan? No, no, no, no, no and no.
The answer to that question is the United States of America. Wow! How can that be? This must be a misprint. Fake news. America never signed the Kyoto Protocol some two decades ago. We never enacted a carbon tax. We don’t have a cap and trade carbon emission program. That evironmental villain Donald Trump pulled America out of the Paris climate accord that was signed by almost the entire rest of the civilized world.
Yet the latest world climate report from the BP Statistical Review of World Energy finds that in 2017, America reduced its carbon emissions by 0.5 percent, the most of all major countries. That’s especially impressive given that our economy grew by nearly 3 percent — so we had more growth and less pollution — the best of all worlds.
Sadly, not everyone is doing as well as we are in reducing greenhouse gases. In fact, pretty much nobody is even close. As this portion of the BP report shows, overall greenhouse gas emissions are up considerably, with the United States being one of only a handful of countries cutting back. All of those other Paris Climate Accord countries are falling way behind on their targets.
Global CO2 emissions from energy in 2017 grew by 1.6%, rebounding from the stagnant volumes during 2014-2016, and faster than the 10-year average of 1.3%
Declines were led by the US (-0.5%). This is the ninth time in this century that the US has had the largest decline in emissions in the world. This also was the third consecutive year that emissions in the US declined, though the fall was the smallest over the last three years.
Carbon emissions from energy use from the US are the lowest since 1992, the year that the UNFCCC came into existence. The next largest decline was in Ukraine (-10.1%).
The largest increase in carbon emissions in 2017 came from China (1.6%), a reversal from the past three years when the largest increases in emissions came from India. China’s emissions in 2017 were 0.3% higher than the previous peak in 2014. China has had the world’s largest increments in carbon emission every year this century except in four years – 2000 and between 2014-16.
So China and India are the two worst nations in terms of pollution in general and carbon emissions specifically. They’re not cutting back, but rather increasing at an alarming rate. But we can’t let the EU off the hook here. Of all the EU signatories to the Paris climate treaty, not one of them is meeting their current goals for emissions reduction. Only five of them – Luxembourg, Netherlands, France, Portugal and Sweden – are even at 50% of their targets. The rest are all trailing behind.
Moore makes a valid point when he wonders what all the fuss was about. Why would the United States want to sign on to an agreement which would produce even more financially crippling restrictions and requirements when we’re already ahead of the game in emissions reductions and our “partners” aren’t holding up their end of the deal anyway? Besides, with the dismal numbers coming out of China and India, any reductions we achieve are wiped out by those two nations immediately.
So why are we managing to get ahead and contributing to at least a slowing of emissions in some parts of the world? Because we took the lead in shale oil and natural gas production, both of which are dumping far fewer contaminants into the atmosphere than coal or pulp burning. But we’re supposed to be the bad guys. If these other nations want to tell us what to do in terms of carbon emissions they’d better at least catch up to us first.