Emission reduction targets in the USA and UK

In the United States just before Thanksgiving President Obama set a target to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 17% (from 2005 levels) by 2020. It is a very easy target. If you compare it on a like for like basis with the United Kingdom’s target of 20% cuts from 1999 levels it translates to about 3% cuts. However, while Mr Obama’s target will be easily achieved and no doubt improved upon, the United Kingdom’s target is unlikely to be met.

I shall not be surprised if the United States emissions are reduced more than those of the United Kingdom, in real terms, although the Thanksgiving announcement might not give the planet too much for which to be thankful.

There are three reasons that the United States will do better in its greenhouse gas reductions than the United Kingdom.

  1. There is more intensive waste of energy in the United States, not because Americans are especially more inherently wasteful of energy than others, but because energy is cheaper, whether it is power energy, heat energy or transportation fuel.
  2. There are more powerful greenhouse gas reduction measures in the United States; there are in many states very powerful incentives for house owners to install microgeneration but in the United Kingdom the incentives are barely incentives and in some cases disincentives.
  3. The United States is not a one trick pony, but in respect of climate change the United Kingdom is such a one trick pony. The United States is attempting a series of measures and will be spending its tax dollars on many different things, all of which are needed to protect the climate. The United Kingdom is devoting its tax resources (such as they are) to meaningless statutory promises, consultations and emissions trading; the UK has rather lost the climate protection plot.

The neither the United States’ planned reductions of emissions nor those of the United Kingdom address the point. They only cover local emissions not the emissions for which they are responsible.

In fact, exporting emissions is the latest game in town. The USA and the UK will export more emissions rather than reduce them, by continuing to export their factories, industrial processes, administrative assistance and even their call centres. Also neither nation will count the emissions from aviation and shipping which are significant and growing.

Unfortunately, the planet will.

3 Responses

  1. Let’s replace Green with Blue…


  2. Haven’t we reduced our emmissions enough already, the amounts of bussinesses that have close in the UK must have had an effect on the total output of pollution, where else could we cut down at ?

    Our next day britain is causing a huge efect on road mles and pollution, if we started shopping more locally and stop sending goods by road as much would be enough in itself, if we continue to run our lives this way we are thus guilty of harbouring such a system that we will eventually pay for in more expensive luxuries.

    Why don’t we send what we have left of our manufacturing left to India and China like we have for the last 30 years and then hammer the companies for bringing in those goods from the dirtier countries, don’t pass on the pollution to pay tax to the cleaner countries and customers here in the UK, someone has to give up a buck or two in order of making thing figures add up.

    I for one won’t be buying the cheap goods from parts forein if I can help it, neither should anyone else if they have any scense, otherwise a huge amount of our money will be wasted because someone has to work for nothing and pay through the nose again for it later, the whole thing absolutely stinks to high heaven, paying to pollute will never ever resolve anything.

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