Leaders from around the world have assembled in Bonn, Germany to celebrate their abysmal failure to meet the carbon-dioxide emissions reduction goals established under the Paris climate agreement in 2015. Despite the fact Germany’s Angela Merkel and other global leaders have admonished the Trump administration for its decision to remove the United States from the Paris accords, their governments are failing to live up to their own CO2 commitments.
For instance, under the Paris agreement, Germany’s government pledged to reduce the country’s carbon-dioxide emissions by 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020. According to Agora Energiewende, a German think tank specializing in energy issues, Germany had only reduced its emissions by approximately 27 percent of its 1990 levels by the end of 2016, and it will likely fall short of its 2020 targets by more than 10 percent.
Before you give Germany a pass for falling short of meeting supposedly ambitious targets, consider that carbon-dioxide emissions in Germany fell by 15 percent in the decade following the reunification of Germany in the early 1990s. The emissions reductions were almost entirely due to the closing of numerous old and inefficient Soviet-era coal-fired power plants and factories, which were replaced with more efficient coal-fired power plants. Between 1990 and 1995, electricity-sector carbon-dioxide emissions fell by 43 percent in what had been East Germany. This means Germany has only reduced its carbon-dioxide emissions by approximately 12 points under 1990 levels, if one excludes the effects of communism's collapse.
Additionally, Germany has experienced almost no reduction in its carbon-dioxide emissions since 2009, despite having made heavy investments in wind and solar power. In fact, carbon-dioxide emissions were slightly higher in 2016 than in 2015.
Contrary to Merkel’s political rhetoric, carbon-dioxide emissions in Germany are likely to increase further in the future if the government continues its plan to eliminate nuclear as a source of electricity. Germany's nuclear power will most likely be replaced with “clean, beautiful coal,” as President Donald Trump would say, which currently provides Germany with approximately 40 percent of its electricity.
Another so-called “climate leader,” China, has also been busy increasing its carbon-dioxide emissions. In fact, global carbon-dioxide emissions will likely have risen by approximately 2 percent by the end of 2017, the first time this has occurred in three years, and the increase is primarily being fueled by a 3.5 percent surge in China’s carbon emissions. China’s emissions are projected to account for 28 percent of total global carbon-dioxide emissions in 2017.
Even though China’s carbon dioxide emissions have been rising, China also can, according to the terms of the Paris climate agreement, claim the mantle of “climate leader,” because under the Paris accords, China has only committed to peak its emissions “sometime around 2030.”
With these figures in mind, how can anyone take these alleged “global climate leaders” seriously?
Meanwhile, the rogue United States, despite the Trump administration’s plan to leave the Paris agreement, is expected to lower its carbon dioxide emissions twice as much as the European Union this year. (The United States’ reduction is projected to reach 0.04 percent, while the European Union will likely only reduce its CO2 emissions by 0.02 percent.)
The Paris agreement is a virtue-signaler’s agreement. It mandates poor energy policies based on flawed, computer-generated climate models. Those models have erroneously estimated the warming experienced over the past 20 years has been two to three times greater than what has actually been observed by satellites and weather balloons.
What fun it must be for the rest of the world to pat themselves on the back for a job undone and thumb their noses at Trump. In the end, Trump’s decision to leave the Paris accord will look like a brilliant move, especially as it becomes clear virtue-signaling countries have continuously failed to reduce their carbon-dioxide emissions in any meaningful way, while imposing massive energy cost increases on families.
Isaac Orr is a research fellow for energy and environmental policy at The Heartland Institute.
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