Carbon Reduction Is Doable

Jun 1 2012 @ 3:10pm

This is an impressive chart, it seems to me. It's an update on European countries' progress in meeting their Kyoto goals of reducing carbon emissions to below their levels in 1990. All the major economies have succeeded, with Britain and Germany leading the pack:

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Germany and Britain have cut their carbon emissions by more than a fifth. Brad Plumer throws some cold water on the numbers:

A big chunk of those cuts is typically ascribed to two factors. Germany saw a huge one-time drop in emissions after reunification, since a bunch of inefficient power plants and factories in the East closed down. The United Kingdom, meanwhile, made a massive switch from coal to electric gas in the 1990s after its electricity industry was privatized. That made a big difference, since those two countries are Europe’s biggest emitters. But neither of those events are likely to repeat themselves.

Some of Europe's emissions have been outsourced to developing countries, which doesn't help the global situation. But some of this is real. The whole EU has cut carbon by 16 percent below 1990 levels under Kyoto. The US, which never ratified Kyoto, has seen a rise of around 15 percent. China's emissions have gone through the roof. A lot is fucked up in Europe, but they're way ahead of us on climate change. In a century from now, I wonder what people will recall as the real failures of our time.