EU’s flight of fancy on emissions control

Europeans have found it's hard to have both economic growth and draconian emission reductions, says Investor's Business Daily (IBD).

Indeed, new data from the Copenhagen-based European Environment Agency (EEA) show Europe has for the second year in a row not only failed to meet its Kyoto targets, but actually increased its greenhouse gas emissions.

  • According to the EEA, net emissions of greenhouse gases for the whole of the 25-member European Union increased by 18 million tons (0.4 per cent) between 2003 and 2004 while net emissions from the 15 original EU members increased by 11.5 million tons (0.3 per cent). Spain and Italy were the biggest offenders, with increases of 19.7 million tons and 5.1 million tons, respectively.

  • At the end of 2003, EU greenhouse gas emissions were just 1.7 per cent below 1990 levels, far short of the 8 per cent reduction target by 2010 that was set in 1997. Even an economic growth rate shuffling along at 2 per cent and double-digit unemployment is still enough to make emission reduction nearly unachievable.

  • As a new report from International Energy Agency (IEA) in Paris points out, world population is projected to grow from 6.4 billion people to 9.1 billion from 2003 to 2050, a 42 per cent increase. If per capita emissions stayed the same, that's 42 per cent more greenhouse gases. That would mean freezing everybody's living standards and condemning the world's poor to permanent poverty.

    There's going to be economic growth, says IBD. There has to be. The IEA report presents five scenarios with differing rates of technological change. In each one, emissions are higher in 2050 than today, with increases ranging from 6 per cent to 25 per cent.

    There are things that can be done to slow emissions growth, such as increasing nuclear power use and finding ways to make alternative sources of energy such as solar and wind economically competitive, says IBD.

    Source: Editorial, EU's New Airfare Tax Is A Flight Of Fancy, Investor's Business Daily, July 11, 2006; based upon: EU greenhouse gas emissions increase for second year in a row industry and Transport drive Europe's increase, European Environment Agency, June 22, 2006; and Energy technology scenarios and strategies for a more secure and sustainable energy future, International Energy Agency, June 22, 2006.

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    FMF Policy Bulletin/ 18 July 2006
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