While the federal Environmental Protection Administration is about to impose regulations and taxes on carbon emissions by executive fiat – in the name of stopping global climate change – the United States has already dramatically cut its emissions and probably has already complied with the Kyoto/Copenhagen goals for reduced emissions. And this has been done without taxes, without regulations, and without government intervention.
In 2007, the U.S. emitted 6.12 billion metric tons of carbon. In 2008, emissions fell to 5.92. In 2009, while Obama was promising that the U.S. would cut its emissions to 5.0 by 2015, the American economy and public – on their own – cut the emissions to 5.5 billion. Most likely, by the time the 2010 measurements are in, we will have reached the Obama goal.
While many attribute cut to the recession which, presumably, will end sometime, the fact is that emissions dropped before the recession hit and have continued to fall. A big part of the reason is the reduction in the use of coal to generate electricity.
As we explain in our new book Revolt! (to be released on March 1), coal accounted for 52% of electric generation in 1996 but only for 45% today. In the past twelve months, coal’s share has dropped form 49% to 45%. Natural gas has almost doubled its share from 13% in 1996 to 23% in 2009 while renewables have risen from 2% to 4%.
Source 1996 2009
Coal 52% 45%
Natural Gas 13% 23%
Nuclear 20% 20%
Renewable 2% 4%
Source: US Energy Information Administration
The free market, free enterprise system has responded to persuasion and incentives like it does in free societies without the heavy hand of taxation, government regulation, and coercion.
These data expose the basic truth: Cap and trade or carbon regulation is not necessary to lower U.S. emissions. The government bureaucratic/environmentalist alliance want these measures to increase public control over our economy, not to fight global warming. Just as the Obama stimulus package was designed to increase public spending, not to stimulate anything, so the environmental regulations are exploiting public concern over climate change to ratify a growth in government power and oversight.
And that’s the inconvenient truth!