The old saying no news is good news certainly holds true in this case. With talks of an auto bailout and a certain Illinois governor entertaining bids for President-elect Barack Obama’s Senate seat usurping the headlines, there has been little talk of the global climate change conference in Poznan, Poland.
The conference, designed to draw up an international treaty to reduce carbon dioxide, will wrap up December 12th and little progress has been made thus far. In fact, the news that has been coming out of Poland has actually been good news. For instance, the support for wind, solar and other renewable sources of energy is dissipating. From The Guardian:
“Support for renewable energy technology to fight global warming is weakening in the face of worldwide economic problems and the true scale of the carbon reductions required, a survey published today has suggested.
Figures presented at the UN climate talks in Poznan, Poland, show that climate experts have less faith in alternative energy than they did 12 months ago.
The survey shows less support for wind energy, solar power, biofuels, biomass and hydrogen energy as technologies with “high potential” to reduce carbon levels in the atmosphere over the next 25 years.”
This is encouraging since any climate reduction scheme, domestic or multilateral, would impose massive damage on an already wounded economy. And even if something were enacted once the economy recovered, it would all be for naught because it would negligible effects on the global temperature. In a recent testimony to the House Ways and Means Committee, Heritage Foundation analyst David Kreutzer asserted that
Analysis by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) shows that a 60 percent reduction in CO2 emissions by 2050 will reduce CO2 concentrations by only 25 ppm in 295. This reduction would affect world temperatures by 0.1 to 0.2 degrees C. In other words it makes virtually no difference.
Some argue that if the United States adopted a sufficiently severe cap on CO2 emissions that would induce the rest of the world to do the same. The same EPA analysis runs through just such a scenario and finds with the “leadership” effect the drop in CO2 concentrations are larger—perhaps enough to reduce world temperature by 1-2 degrees C.”
The Kyoto Protocol was the first attempt to internationally combat climate change. And it failed miserably:
“Most of the major Kyoto parties that pledged to reduce their emissions—namely Western Europe, plus Canada and Japan—are not on track to meet their reduction goals. Indeed, nearly every country that pledged to reduce emissions under Kyoto actually has higher emissions today than when the treaty was first signed. Further, despite ongoing criticism of the United States from Kyoto parties, emissions in many of these nations are rising faster than in the United States. Largely ignored is the fact that emissions from developing nations, which are not restricted under Kyoto, are the world’s fastest-growing source of greenhouse gases. Particularly egregious is the exemption of China, which is on the verge of overtaking America as the world’s largest emitter.”
We do need energy, however, and there is a way we can get it cleanly – through nuclear power. 104 nuclear reactors currently provide 20% of the nation’s electricity without emitting any carbon dioxide.
If the nuclear industry can end its subsidy-centric mentality and if Congress would have the fortitude to properly fast-track new nuclear reactors and privatize the management of spent nuclear waste, we’d be well on our way to having a sustainable provider of clean, affordable energy.