Global Warming’s Dirty Secret

Last week, the European Union declared that it had practically saved the planet. With European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso claiming that Europe will lead the way on climate change, the EU has promised to cut CO2 emissions by 20% below 1990-levels by 2020. Of course, with the EU already having promised an 8% cut by next year in the Kyoto Protocol, this new target seems slightly less ambitious. Moreover, in continuing the fundamental problems besetting the crippled Kyoto Protocol, the EU has essentially gone and made a worse deal.

Man-made climate change is, of course, real, and constitutes a serious problem. Yet the current cut-emissions-now-before-it-is-too-late mindset neglects the fact that the world has no sensible short-term solutions.

This seems to be why we focus on feel-good approaches like the Kyoto Protocol, whose fundamental problem has always been that it is simultaneously impossibly ambitious, environmentally inconsequential, and inordinately expensive. It required such big reductions that only few countries could live up to it.

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