Climate Change

U.S. More Than Meets Pledged Copenhagen Climate Accord Greenhouse Gas Emissions Cuts

"The vast majority of 2020's emission reductions were due to decreased economic activity."

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President Barack Obama pledged at the Copenhagen climate conference back in 2009 to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent by the year 2020. Guess what? We more than did it.

At that 2009 meeting, then-Secretary of State John Kerry assured the conference delegates that the U.S. would likely reduce its green house gas (GHG) emissions even more because in the coming years it would be so easy and cheap to cut them that "every country that has put a reductions target out there will exceed their targets." (President-elect Joe Biden has selected Kerry to serve as a special envoy for climate, giving him a seat on the National Security Council.)

While it is true the cost of electricity from wind and solar power are falling, the bulk of U.S. emissions reductions between 2009 and 2019 stemmed from electric power generators switching from coal to natural gas. In a new report, the Rhodium Group consultancy estimates that as the result of the COVID-19 economic shock U.S. greenhouse gas emissions fell this year by 10.3 percent. "This puts US GHG emissions below 1990 levels for the first time," notes the report. "With emissions down 21% below 2005 levels, this means the US is expected to far exceed its 2020 Copenhagen Accord target of a 17% reduction below 2005 levels."

"The enormous toll of economic damage and human suffering as a result of the pandemic is no cause for celebration," observes the report. "The vast majority of 2020's emission reductions were due to decreased economic activity and not from any structural changes that would deliver lasting reductions in the carbon intensity of our economy."

President Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Paris Climate Agreement the day after the November 2020 presidential election. Under that agreement, the Obama administration had pledged to further cut U.S. GHG emissions by 26 to 28 percent below their 2005 levels by 2025. President-elect Biden has promised to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement on "day-one" of his administration and to set the U.S. on a path toward net-zero GHG emissions by 2050. Some recently calculated scenarios suggest that this goal is achievable, but the economic and political tradeoffs will be fierce.

NEXT: Did Trump Engage in 'Insurrection or Rebellion' Against the Constitution?

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  5. “The vast majority of 2020’s emission reductions were due to decreased economic activity.”

    The lockdowns are working! I mean…did I say that out loud?

  6. fuck these motherfuckers. These totalitarian pricks. I’ve never wanted to see the system burn down more in my entire life.

  7. > U.S. More Than Meets Pledged Copenhagen Climate Accord Greenhouse Gas Emissions Cuts

    NO NO NO! The whole point isn’t actually meeting the goals, the point is to be a member of treaty! Symbolism over substance! Because substance is pointless without the symbolism! Gosh, didn’t you know?

    1. The whole point isn’t actually cooling the globe actually controlling the climate actually decreasing global emissions actually meeting the goals, the point is to be a member of treaty!

      FIFY

  8. And thus we realize that when democrats get everything they want people will be miserable and destitute. That’s how they know it’s working.

  9. All we have to do is just make lockdowns more draconian & permanent and we can be the anti-CO2 champs!!!

  10. Covid is just nature’s way of making us reduce carbon emissions.

  11. As others pointed out elsewhere; the US hits an unexpected low in emissions and the CO2 measurements at Mona Laua don’t even register the slightest downtick.

  12. So is Greta going to come back over to apologize and give us all some cake?

    Nah. She still wants people up against the wall because that’s her nature.

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  13. “President-elect Biden has promised to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement on “day-one” of his administration and to set the U.S. on a path toward net-zero GHG emissions by 2050. Some recently calculated scenarios suggest that this goal is achievable, but the economic and political tradeoffs will be fierce.”

    The huge decline during the past decade was due to natural gas fracking (which environmentalists and left wing media lied about and lobbied Democrats to demonize and ban), not the Copenhagen accord (as Bailey’s article implies).

    While the US can further reduce emissions in the future, environmental extremists, left wing media and Democrats will make doing so far more difficult by continuing to ban/restrict natural gas as well as nuclear power plants (which they done since 1978 after Three Mile Island’s accident that only harmed several plant workers).

    Meanwhile, the Paris accord explicitly allows/encourages China to continue sharply increasing their carbon emissions until 2030, which will more than offset the huge decline in US emissions since 2010. Besides, China has clearly demonstrated that cannot be trusted to abide by the Paris accord (or any other multinational economic agreement).

    1. Leftwing media (like reason.com)

      We cannot control the sun so we cannot control the climate. Co2 is not a climate diver.

  14. The last time they killed the economy (Great Depression); Global temperatures spiked like never before….

    What’s the goal again? A dead economy with a temperature spike to lock it in indefinitely? Nope; I’d guess the end-goal is totalitarian POWER.

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  16. The problem with electric cars is they’re not green. The electric grid is still largely fossil-fuel powered, and by nature it’s very inefficient, with less than half of the energy-value of fuel consumed making it to the electrical outlet as usable power. This is just how it works when you convert one form of energy to another, send it down wires, and convert it from one voltage to another. There are losses every step of the way. By anointing electric cars as the way of the future, politicians are inhibiting the development of other technologies, such as hydrogen and compressed natural gas, which could reduce pollution more quickly and offer consumers better choices.

  17. In addition to 2020 equaling the hottest year on record in spite of it including a cooling La Niña event, there is this:

    “Even with the small COVID-19-related dip in global carbon emissions due to limited travel and other activities, the ocean temperatures continued a trend of breaking records in 2020. A new study, authored by 20 scientists from 13 institutes around the world, reported the highest ocean temperatures since 1955 from surface level to a depth of 2,000 meters…. “However, due to the ocean’s delayed response to global warming, the trends of ocean change will persist at least for several decades, so societies need to adapt to the now unavoidable consequences of our unabated warming. But there is still time to take action and reduce our emissions of greenhouse gases.”

    And that’s just one more reason why further reductions of greenhouse gasses are needed. And other than “libertarians” at this website, most of us would prefer those reductions do NOT come from reduced economic activity due to a pandemic.

    https://phys.org/news/2021-01-upper-ocean-temperatures-high.html

  18. The economic trade offs will be “fierce?” Not according to a recent study from Princeton.

    “ According to the study, a business-as-usual pathway with no concerted effort to decarbonize would see the U.S. spend $9.4 trillion on energy over the next decade, and total annualized energy system costs across all scenarios modeled were estimated to be only about 3 percent ($300 billion) more over the next decade. Additionally, all pathways resulted in an increase in net-energy sector employment and a decrease in premature mortality from air pollution, relative to the business-as-usual reference case. “

    “The affordability of the transition to a low-carbon economy is largely due to the precipitous cost reductions achieved by low-carbon technologies such as wind and solar generating technologies, increased energy-efficiency improving end-use productivity, and reduced spending on fuels, such as coal and natural gas. These costs could shrink further if oil and gas prices are higher than anticipated or low-carbon technologies experience further breakthroughs.”

    Conclusion?

    “The groundwork to implement these changes must begin today…. its findings underscore that climate policy in the U.S. must be ambitious, encourage a wide-variety of low-carbon technologies, and create a robust marketplace where investment is directed towards low-carbon innovations and infrastructure.”

    From the libertarian Niskanen Center

    https://www.niskanencenter.org/princeton-university-study-finds-the-low-carbon-future-is-a-low-cost-future/

    1. Fossil fuels aren’t the future; we all know that. The problem comes in how you implement alternatives. Electric power isn’t an energy source – it’s a method of carrying energy from one place to another, and it’s not a very efficient system. Jurisdictions are implementing all-electric building and electric car mandates aggressively without any thought to where the electricity is going to come from and whether there will be sufficient transmission capacity to handle mass electrification. So, what we’ve got are all-electric buildings powered by gas-fired power plants, with half the heat value of the gas being wasted in the power plants and via the electric grid. That natural gas could be consumed with 90 percent efficiency if used directly to heat buildings.

      We should focus on the supply side and see just how far we can go with wind. It really is the best option in much of the US, as it doesn’t have the problems of solar (amount of space needed, amount of sun needed, and the use of rare and costly minerals to make solar panels). We need a federal regulation that allows wind turbines to be sited and installed far more quickly. As it is now, local governments and citizen pressure groups delay getting these put in, sometimes for years.

      1. Well, as Niskanen Center said, a wide variety of non-fossil fuels need to be encouraged. Including wind. And solar just happens to be showing more promise…right now…than wind. That may change.

        You say everyone knows fossil fuels aren’t the future. It’s taken Reason far too many years to arrive at that conclusion, if they have at all. Bailey himself has said he grows increasingly worried about how bad climate change will be. And yet, every time he cites a study or event, it encourages his readers to think differently. Recently it was Shellenberger, who doesn’t believe it’s a problem. In the past it’s been Curry, Spencer…and it’s very rare he ever cites the studies that lead him to be increasingly worried. That wouldn’t be acceptable at Koch funded Reason.

        Libertarians at Niskanen, on the other hand, have been telling their readers this is a serious problem that needs serious solutions. And it isn’t recent for them.

        1. The data I’ve seen says wind power is the least costly form of electrical generation available, and I am concerned about the rare minerals needed to make solar panels and the resulting environmental degradation from mining. But both are going to play a role in meeting our energy needs in the future.

          The thing I think that gets lost in these discussions is we spend too much time caught up in whether someone else “believes in climate change.” Some argue that maybe it’s not as bad as some others say, and of course there are varied prognostications of how much the oceans may rise by a certain year. They can all sound persuasive. But the only thing that really matters is we should all agree that less pollution is better than more pollution. Nothing that comes out of a smokestack or tailpipe is beneficial to the health of people, animals, or the environment in general. And, ultimately we need to preserve our petrochemicals for plastics and other much higher-value uses rather than burning them in engines.

          We have to look at what’s cost-effective and likely to bring about the most benefit the most quickly. Wind (or solar) has the potential to take massive amounts of dirty coal-fired electric generation offline very quickly, but it’s delayed because of local objections. So we see utilities converting coal plants to natural gas, and that’s an inefficient waste of one of the cleanest fossil fuels. Natural gas ought to be used directly by end-users, and possibly in vehicles, further taking demand off the electric grids so we can use less electricity and derive a much higher percentage of our power from wind, solar and hydro. We often forget that a kilowatt not used reduces pollution just as much as a kilowatt generated with no pollution.

  19. They don’t care about the technical problems that mass electrification presents, like spoiled brat rich kids that they are, they want electric everything that is only produced by wind solar and unicorn farts. The fact that this will raise everyone’s electric bill through the roof is a feature, not a bug, because they want more unemployment and misery to bring the population down. This last point has become controversial though, since brown people are the ones who are having the most babies. It’s not a coincidence that many white supremacists are also green.

    1. Well, you’re probably right that they don’t care. The stuff I’m saying is widely known, so it’s not like the politicians could seriously believe those electric car subsides they’re handing out are doing anything besides lining the pockets of Elon Musk. But that’s why I do say wind is best. It’s the cheapest power you can get. The economic case for it is ironclad without a cent in subsidies. Every wind turbine reduces pollution with every revolution it turns, and the more wind power we use, the cheaper electricity gets. All the government needs to do is streamline the process so we can get more wind turbines up and running in less time.

      1. Sorry, it’s subsidies, not subsides.

  20. Wow that seems like a lot of emissions

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