The worst nightmare of the left is about to come true: The United States is about to achieve the carbon emissions goals set by the 1997 Kyoto Accords. Once seemingly beyond reach, the United States is already halfway toward meeting the stringent Kyoto goals for reduction in carbon emissions without a cap-and-trade law or a carbon tax or carbon dioxide being declared a pollutant.
Environmental nightmare? Yes. The goals of the climate-change crowd are not reduction in global warming but the enactment of a worldwide system of regulation that puts business under government control and transfers wealth from rich nations to poor ones under the guise of fighting climate change. Should the emissions come down on their own, as they are doing, the excuse for draconian legislation goes, well, up in smoke.
The facts are startling. In 1990, the year chosen as the global benchmark for carbon emissions, the United States emitted 5,007 million metric tons of carbon (mmts). Kyoto specified that emissions must be reduced to a level 6 percent lower than in 1990. For the U.S., that means 4,700 mmts.
American carbon emissions rose year after year until they peaked in 2007 at 5,967 mmts. But, in 2008, they dropped to 5,801. And, in 2009, the best estimate is for a reduction to 5,476. So, in two years, U.S. carbon emissions will have gone down by more than 500 mmts -- a cut of over 8 percent.
President Obama has pledged to bring the U.S. carbon emissions down by 17 percent. He's halfway there.
A combination of the recession and an increased emphasis on cutting emissions is working and may make onerous regulation unnecessary and even redundant.
How can we achieve the other half of the hoped for reduction?
If 60 percent of American cars were electric, the net savings in carbon would be 450 mmts (even counting the coal burned for the higher levels of electricity required). And if one-third of the truck fleet ran on natural gas, the carbon savings would add another 150 to 200 mmts.
The point is that public education and increased environmental consciousness -- the normal way we Americans respond to challenges -- may suffice without the need for government regulation. And what persuasion fails to achieve, higher gasoline prices will do for us -- move people to buy electric cars.
Good news huh?
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