New EPA Data Show Futility Of U.S. Carbon Dioxide Restrictions
Global carbon dioxide emissions may be rapidly rising, but the U.S. is not to blame, according to newly released data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
U.S. carbon dioxide emissions declined 6% in 2009, and are now 8% below 2000 levels, the EPA reports. Global emissions, by contrast, have risen more than 25% since 2000.
A closer look at global emissions trends shows how futile it would be for the U.S. to impose economically punitive self-restrictions on carbon dioxide.
Underdeveloped nations, which are not required to make emissions cuts under the Kyoto Protocol, accounted for virtually all of the global increase in carbon dioxide emissions since 2000. China, which is one of the nations exempt from Kyoto Protocol emissions cuts, accounted for roughly half the global increase.
In 2005 China was the second-largest emitter of carbon dioxide, trailing slightly behind the U.S. By 2009, however, China had left the U.S. far behind, accounting for 24% of global emissions, vs. just 17% for the U.S. When 2010 numbers are released it is a virtual certainty the gap will widen further. Most likely China in 2010 accounted for approximately 26% of global emissions, with the U.S. accounting for roughly 15%.
China has not only surpassed the U.S. in terms of emissions, but in 2010 likely surpassed the emissions of the entire Western Hemisphere. Moreover, Chinese emissions have been rising by nearly 10% per year.
This means that even if the U.S. and the entire Western Hemisphere immediately and completely eliminated all carbon dioxide emissions, the growth in Chinese emissions alone would likely render this action moot within a decade. China, moreover, has made it very clear it will not agree to carbon dioxide restrictions regardless of whether or not the U.S. and other nations restrict their own emissions.
And make no mistake about it, forcing consumers to purchase wind and solar power (the only acceptable power alternatives, according to environmental activists) rather than coal and natural gas will result in very painful economic consequences.
Not only are wind and solar power intermittent and undependable, they are more expensive than coal and natural gas. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates that for new power-generating facilities entering service in 2016, onshore wind power will be 49% more expensive than conventional coal over the lifetime of the respective facilities, offshore wind will be 90% more expensive than coal, solar thermal will be 155% more expensive than coal, and solar photovoltaic will be 295% more expensive than coal.
The numbers are even more striking when comparing wind and solar to natural gas. The EIA estimates onshore wind power will be 80% more expensive than conventional natural gas power, offshore wind power will be 142% more expensive than natural gas, solar thermal power will be 208% more expensive than natural gas, and solar photovoltaic will be 377% more expensive than natural gas.
Just as importantly, the number of jobs created by investing in wind and solar power would be dwarfed by the number of jobs eliminated elsewhere in the economy. Forcing people to remove budgetary dollars from food, clothing, shelter, education, health care, consumer goods, etc., in order to redirect these dollars to more expensive wind and solar power will kill jobs in each of these other job sectors--not to mention the jobs that will be eliminated in the coal and natural gas sectors. This was confirmed in a recent study published by King Juan Carlos University (Spain), in which professor Gabriel Calzada shows each job created by Spain's renewable energy push came at the expense of 2.2 jobs destroyed elsewhere in the economy. Common sense, after all, tells us you don't create wealth, jobs and economic growth by forcing people to pay more for the same goods and services (in this case electrical power) they would otherwise purchase at an inexpensive price.
Attempting to fight global warming by restricting U.S. greenhouse gas emissions is therefore both ineffective and painfully costly.
This article was initially published by Forbes.com at http://www.forbes.com/2011/02/23/china-carbon-dioxide-emissions-opinions-contributors-james-taylor.html. It is reprinted with permission.