Aldyen Donnelly: My carbon emission reductions are better than yours

(May 6, 2010) I agree that climate change and national greenhouse gas emission reduction targets should be on the table for discussion at the G8 and G20 meetings.

I am appalled that the EU27’s current commitment is to reduce GHGs only 2.7% from 2005 levels by 2020. By comparison, Canada and the US have committed to cut GHGs 17% from 2005 levels by 2020.

The EU negotiators disguise the inadequacy of their 2020 reduction commitment by consistently referring to a 1990 baseline. The problem is that while EU27 GHG emissions crashed between 1990 and 1995, they have grown continuously since then.

The fall in EU27 GHGs between 1990 and 1995 had 3 sources: (1) the fall of the Berlin wall and the related immediate shut-down of very old, inefficient and previously highly subsidized eastern European industry and power plants, (2) the massive financial crisis that hit Sweden, Norway and Denmark in 1990 causing 4% to 8% absolute reductions in the output of those economies and from which those nations have yet to fully recover, (3) mad cow disease immediately following a European hoof and mouth epidemic, which combined to result in a 40% absolute reduction in European livestock production and processing between 1990 and 1997 and from which the sector has yet to rebound.

In 1997 in Kyoto, the EU27 signed on to an aggregate cap on their GHGs that was 14% ABOVE the member states’ aggregate 1995 actual emissions.

Even though Canada has made no effort to comply with our Kyoto commitment (I say with great regret), between 1997 (the year of the Kyoto Protocol) and 2008 Canadian per capita GHG emissions FELL 4.2%.

By comparison, according to their official national submissions to the United Nations, EU27 member states’ per capita GHG trends from 1997 through 2008 include:  Spain, +32.8%; Latvia, +27.4%; Cyprus, +23.1%; Estonia, +21.0%; Greenland (a Danish colony), +16.6%; Luxembourg, +16.2%; Lithuania, +13.6%; Ireland, +13.0%; Ukraine, +11.5%; Malta, +9.0%; Austria, + 7.5%; Bulgaria, +8.4%; Italy, +5.9%; Belgium, +4.0%; Netherlands, +3.2%; Portugal, +4.2%; France, +1.5%; Finland, -1.6%, United Kingdom, -2.9%.

It should be noted, further, that 100% of the emission “reductions” claimed by EU member states to date derive from offshoring manufacturing of goods and services EU demand, which has actually increased. When any nation offshores production of the goods it consumes, it shifts the GHGs associated with its national consumption to the nations it now relies on for supplies.

For just one insight into the potential implications of offshoring production for global GHG emissions, check out the following article from the UK Guardian newspaper.

Aldyen Donnelly, May 6, 2010

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