Jordan Candler / Nov. 30, 2016

Climate Regs Impede Carbon Reductions

Why are ecofascists hampering our ability to reduce greenhouse gases?

Under the terms of the Kyoto Protocol, participating nations were to pursue a roughly 5% emissions reduction, relative to 1990 levels, by 2012. The endeavor was considered a success by most environmental warriors. As a newly released Breakthrough Institute study notes, “Every country achieved their emissions reduction commitments.” But was the agreement really all it’s cracked up to be? The aforementioned Breakthrough study goes on to reveal that, no, it’s not.

“Overall, the carbon intensity of economies that were party to the Kyoto Accord fell more rapidly in the decade before the agreement was signed than in the decade after,” according to the report. “In the 10 years before signing, the compound annual growth rate for carbon intensity was -0.7%. In the 10 years after signing it was only -0.2%.”

“Similarly,” the study continues, “the low-carbon share of energy was growing at an annual rate of 1.0% in the ten years prior to 1997, and only at a rate of 0.3% annually for the ten years after, meaning deployment of clean energy stalled or slowed in comparison to fossil fuels in these countries after they signed Kyoto.” What’s the explanation? “What becomes clear in looking at climate policy as it has been implemented at the international level is that most countries have only been willing to commit to decarbonization targets that are consistent with expected business-as-usual trends, accounting for measures that they have intended to take in any event.”

Thankfully, America did not participate in this scheme, thanks to the Republican Senate blocking Bill Clinton and Al Gore. And though the Obama administration cosigned the U.S. to last year’s Paris climate accord, past efforts to implement a carbon-reducing system would have fallen short, just like the Kyoto Protocol. According to Reason’s Ronald Bailey, “[T]he Breakthrough analysts conclude that U.S. carbon dioxide emissions have actually fallen faster since 2010 than they would have had the the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade scheme been adopted by Congress. The U.S. trend toward lower carbon dioxide emissions was helped along by the global financial crisis, a weak recovery, and the ongoing switch from coal to cheap natural gas for electricity generation.”

As for what comes next, Breakthrough says, “Even should the next administration withdraw from the Paris Agreement and abandon the Clean Power Plan, the United States might outperform the commitments that the Obama administration made in Paris if it keeps the nation’s nuclear fleet online, continues tax incentives for deployment of wind and solar energy, and stays out of the way of the shale revolution. By contrast, a Democratic administration indifferent to the fate of the nation’s existing nuclear fleet and hostile to shale gas production might ultimately slow US decarbonization trends.”

Given these circumstances, the most pertinent question is this: Why are ecofascists hampering our ability to reduce emissions, which can be accomplished without onerous government regulations?

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