A favorite line already emerging as the Poznan talks on Kyoto II kick off this week is that Kyoto I is obviously a success because emissions among covered parties are down 17 percent “since 1990.”
Let’s break that claim down: Kyoto consists of Europe and a handful of others, most of whose emissions are rising and even spiking (Australia, Canada, Japan, Russia, and New Zealand). Europe is really the poster child, though – since they make the grandest claims about their reductions and are held up as the model for what the U.S. is urged to now do to itself.
Two footnotes to their reductions claim are required, but rarely adduced. First is the reliance on using a baseline year utterly irrelevant to the treaty promises, but chosen precisely to take advantage of two political decisions. We all remember how Eastern and Central Europe went belly up for a few years after 1990, as former Soviet economies transitioned to market economies. When West Germany unified with East Germany, the flat-lining economy of the latter allowed the EU-15 (“Europe” for Kyoto purposes) to claim massive CO2 reductions on its carbon balance sheet — an equivalent factor to the UK’s post-1990 dash-to-gas in explaining Europe’s collective emission “reduction.”
The other part that they slip in is redefining “Europe” for Kyoto II as the EU-25 (those 25 of the EU-27 who are covered in some way by Kyoto’s promises), the new additions being more of those post-Soviet economic basketcases that have even now not yet recovered to their old levels.
When you perform these two sleights of hand, you confirm that, yep, economic collapse does in fact lead to emission reductions. In fact, it’s the only demonstrated way to do so in any sustainable, year-over-year manner. But that’s not a point they highlight in their sales pitch, now is it?
But what about since Kyoto was hatched?
Ah. Yes. Well, you’ll see here that even when helpfully roping in the former Soviet satellites, EU emissions are sitting just a hair below where they were when Kyoto was agreed and all of the promises and name-calling began (see chart at bottom of page 1). That’s right. Austria, France, Great Britain, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain — all have watched their CO2 emissions go up since the blessed act. “Europe” has found reductions in Germany and Denmark with a nibble each from Belgium and Sweden. What you don’t see is these latter countries offering anything like a meaningful trend of reducing emissions. As I have noted in this space before, these reductions often turn out instead to be accounting gimmicks or gaps to be filled in later.
Take away the baseline game and the EU still has to play games to claim that their emissions are down. How many more gimmicks will be required to make Kyoto II a success — or will the EU have to continue to expand to bring in more failed economies?
One more thing illustrated on that same chart: emissions covered by Europe’s vaunted Emissions Trading Scheme – the costly cap-and-trade regime we’re supposed to implement here next year to show the world what good people we are — well, those emissions rose while EU economy-wide emissions dipped slightly. All hail the mighty cap-n-trade!
So, nowhere in the facts do you find any support for the claim that either Kyoto or Europe’s carbon-rationing scheme has actually accomplished what you will be told this week that it has accomplished. And most of those who will be making those claims surely know better, by the way.
– Chris Horner is a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute and the author of Red Hot Lies: How Global Warming Alarmists Use Threats, Fraud, and Deception to Keep You Misinformed.