May 23, 2005

European Union > European Countries to Exceed Kyoto's CO2 Emission Standards

Via Marginal Revolutions.

Netherlands 10% over
Belgium 16% over
France 19% over
Italy 13 to 21% over
Finland 26% over
Luxembourg 31% over
Ireland 41% over
Greece 51% over
Spain 61% over
Portugal 77% over

Not all the European countries are over their limits, but quite a few are, despite faltering economies. What's more, even if Kyoto was fully enacted it would only slow global warming, not stop it. And the ssumption underlying Kyoto is that global warming is ongoing, has net negative consequences, and is caused by CO2. (More assumptions here.) It's really hard to see how Kyoto can go on.

Posted by lesjones


It's really hard to see how Kyoto can go on.

Are you complaining that not enough is being done or just gloating over the fact that you can pollute the atmosphere as much as you want and no one can stop you?

Posted by: hellbent at May 23, 2005

Kyoto was a badly-conceived idea. Incomplete science combined with a financial structure designed to harm countries with stable-to-growing populations and vibrant economies, while rewarding countries with crashing populations and stagnant economies. Vladimir Putin's Russia looks to be one of the biggest beneficiaries of Kyoto, thanks to its dwindling population and moribund economy.

Posted by: Les Jones at May 23, 2005

I noticed that you don't like Kyoto. I'm wondering if you have anything constructive to offer.

Posted by: hellbent at May 23, 2005

I'm all for energy efficiency to reduce all forms of pollution, conserve resources, and to save money. Nuclear power makes a lot of sense, and would prevent many kinds of pollution other than CO2.

Posted by: Les Jones at May 23, 2005

Wow, energy efficiency! You've put a lot of thought into this. Considering that the agreement acknowledges the incompleteness of the science, its inadequacy is stopping global warming, and the importance of energy efficiency in reducing emissions, I'm wondering whether you have any idea what you're talking about. There is nothing in the agreement that prevents countries from using nuclear power to meet their goals.

How countries meet their emissions goals is up to them. Those goals don't kick in until to 2008. Signatories are supposed to have made "demonstrable progress" by this year, so nobody is over their limits yet.

In light of the agreement being completely voluntary, I'm hard pressed to find anything in it that could honestly be called a "financial structure". I'm half-tempted to think you read some grossly biased ideological perspective on Kyoto and took it as gospel without checking it against the facts or other viewpoints, but you wouldn't do something like that, would you?

Posted by: hellbent at May 23, 2005

Uh, hellbent - your pills? As in, don't forget to take them.

"In light of the agreement being completely voluntary, I'm hard pressed to find anything in it that could honestly be called a "financial structure"."

That would be the emissions trading:

Each Annex I country has agreed to limit emissions to the levels described in the protocol, but many countries have limits that are set above their current production. These "extra amounts" can be purchased by other countries on the open market. So, for instance, Russia currently easily meets its targets, and can sell off its credits for millions of dollars to countries that don't yet meet their targets, to Canada for instance. This rewards countries that meet their targets, and provides financial incentives to others to do so as soon as possible:
Posted by: Les Jones at May 23, 2005

So you think Kyoto is doomed because countries can choose to participate in a market-based approach to emissions control? Which part of this free market most bothers you, the free part or the market part?

Do you really think Canada would pay millions to Russia rather than invest in cleaner power, conservation, and increased efficiency? I suppose if it's important enough to them, they can just pass the cost along to governments that consume their oil without regard to conservation or efficiency.

Posted by: hellbent at May 23, 2005

It's market-based, but it's not a market whose fundamentals are rational.

"Do you really think Canada would pay millions to Russia rather than invest in cleaner power, conservation, and increased efficiency?"

If it costs (all numbers made up) billions of dollars to come into compliance and billions to pay Russia, they may decide it's cheaper to just pay Russia.

It's hard to justify big investments in CO2 reduction when we're not even sure if CO2 is causing global warming, if global warming is going to continue and if so how far, whether it's going to be a net negative, and whether Canada's contribution to CO2 reduction would ultimately make a meaningful difference.

If I had to bet, I'd bet Kyoto will be dead in the water by 2015. Italy already wants to be out by then.

Posted by: Les Jones at May 23, 2005

Nuclear power is mostly false promises. When nuke plants were first proposed for this country, the power industry and gov't officials said that the electricity from nukes would be "too cheap to meter." That phrase is now a joke in the nuclear industry. Today, the alleged environmental benefits touted by nuke proponents are the same: meaningless propaganda.

All nuke plants produce many tons of high-level waste. Where are you going to put it? Yucca Mtn. is years behind schedule and billions of dollars over budget. Nevada is fighting tooth and nail to keep it from opening (Republicans there are doing that, not the environmentalists that the right loves to blame.) A second storage facility in Skull Valley, Utah, is years from completion, is intended only as a staging area for Yucca Mtn., and has been met with incredibly fierce opposition from the Republican gov't in Utah. On-site storage of the fuel at the plants is expensive and requires a license amendment from NRC.

In addition, to have nuke plants, you must also have a nuclear fuel cycle. More nuke plants simply are not feasible with the current facilities and processes in this country. Many billions of dollars would be needed to expand fuel cycle and enrichment facilities or build new ones. Moreover, even with Bush's plan to bypass NRC licensing procedures, the power companies would still require at least a decade to deploy a new plant. And the plants being proposed (pebble-bed modular plants) use an untested design that NRC has no experience licensing or regulating and the nuke industry has no experience operating. That's a recipe for disaster.

Hence, nukes are the answer only if you want to spend a minimum of about half a trillion dollars, wait 15 years, end up with spent fuel that you don't have anyplace to put, and fight Republicans who are happy to dump waste in blue states but won't put it in their own.

Posted by: DaliWood at May 23, 2005

Do you think it's rational to buy insurance?

Posted by: hellbent at May 24, 2005

This isn't insurance. No one can say "pay x billion and global warming will definitely stop." Even if Kyoto were fully implemented it would at best slow things down a little, assuming the models are even right.

And when you get down to the level of individual countries - which are where the decisions are made and the economic consequences are felt - no one country's actions are going to make a difference, assuming any of the predictions are even true.

Posted by: Les Jones at May 24, 2005

Actually, it's a lot like insurance. Read the agreement. These countries are acknowledging the risk of climate change and trying to plan for it. They agree that no one knows how much atmospheric pollution might alter climate, but they have agreed to control their emissions anyway to try to reduce the risk and the magnitude of change, to continue studying what the risks might be and which regions are likely to experience which impacts. Its prudent risk planning, which is what insurance is.

Your position is more like, "Hey, there's a chance I might never get in a car accident, plus my car is a lot bigger than anyone else's anyway, so why should I waste any money on car insurance?"

Posted by: hellbent at May 24, 2005

My plan is more like, "I'm not convinced Bigfoot exists, therefore I'm not going to buy any Bigfoot Repellant."

Posted by: Les Jones at May 25, 2005

You don't think atmospheric pollution exists?

Posted by: hellbent at May 25, 2005

I do think pollution exists. I'm just not convinced that CO2 is pollution.

Posted by: Les Jones at May 25, 2005

As long as you're willing to redefine "insurance" and "pollution" and "market" and "science" and whatever other words you need to redefine to keep from discussing the subject rationally, I'm sure you'll remain unconvinced.

Posted by: hellbent at May 25, 2005
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