The United States is often portrayed as an ecological villain for declining to sign the fabled Kyoto treaty on climate change and greenhouse gases. But a British think tank reports that Britain and Sweden are the only countries in Europe that have met their commitment under the treaty to cut their emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. And even Britain, while somewhat reducing the growth of greenhouse-gas emissions, is not even close to the 2012 Kyoto target.
The Kyoto treaty calls on industrialized countries to cut carbon-dioxide emissions to 12.5 percent below 1990 levels by 2012. Britain has placed restrictions on industries and cut the rate of growth. But production of carbon dioxide has still increased by 9 percent since 1999.
As for France, Germany and Greece, they haven’t begun to reduce emissions, though they have some policies in place that theoretically are supposed to do the job. Ireland, Italy and Spain haven’t even adopted emission-reduction policies.
Why are we not surprised?
Unfortunately, most European countries are unlikely to acknowledge, even as they violate its guidelines persistently, that the Kyoto treaty is a dud. But it is. As Patrick Michaels, Virginia’s state climatologist, said, meeting the Kyoto treaty’s targets would require regressive and economically disastrous energy taxes. But if all the targets were met, these draconian measures would reduce world temperatures by — are you ready? — seven-tenths of a degree over 50 years.
Average world temperatures are rising each year by about .17 degree centigrade and have been for some time. But it is more likely that this heating is one of the periodic fluctuations in temperature that the world has experienced several times over the centuries than being the result of industrial emissions of carbon dioxide. And the best way to have the flexibility to adjust to temperature change is through the free market rather than government mandates.
At some level of consciousness most European leaders may know much of this, which is why they have taken little action to reduce greenhouse gases. It would be nice if they would come right out and say it.