Par Bjørn Lomborg

PRAGUE – Les conditions météorologiques observées autour du monde cet été ont contribué à alimenter amplement le débat sur le réchauffement climatique. Les sécheresses et autres vagues de chaleur sont autant de signaux avant-coureurs de l’avenir de notre planète, la réduction du carbone est nécessaire aujourd’hui plus que jamais, et pourtant les mesures significatives en la matière font toujours défaut.

Mais au-delà de cette problématique bien connue, quelque chose d’incroyable s’est récemment produit : les émissions de dioxyde de carbone aux États-Unis ont diminué jusqu’à atteindre leur niveau le plus bas en 20 ans. D’après des estimations reposant sur les données de l’Agence américaine d’information sur l’énergie (EIA) relatives aux cinq premiers mois de l’année 2012, les émissions de CO2 prévues ont diminué de plus de 800 millions de tonnes, soit une réduction de 14%, par rapport à leur pic de 2007.

La raison de cette bonne nouvelle n’est autre qu’un passage sans précédent au gaz naturel, qui libère 45% de carbone en moins par unité d’énergie. Les États-Unis produisaient autrefois près de la moitié de leur électricité à partir du charbon, et près de 20% à partir du gaz. Au cours des cinq dernières années, ces chiffres ont changé, dans un premier temps très légèrement, mais désormais de façon spectaculaire : au mois d’avril de cette année, la part du charbon dans la production d’énergie a diminué jusqu’à atteindre 32%, à égalité avec le gaz.

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