At Bali Climate Talks, US Feels the Heat
NUSA DUA, Bali ~ An environmental group blasted the United States for greed and waste at the global forum on climate change here on Thursday, saying many American states emit more carbon pollution individually than scores of poor nations combined.
“The US is responsible for 27.8 percent of the cumulative global warming pollution, while all developing nations’ emissions put together totals just 23 percent,” the National Environmental Trust (NET) said.
Forty-two US states individually emit more carbon dioxide than 50 developing countries combined, and three states individually emit more CO2 than 100 developing countries, NET said.
Its report noted that Texas, with 24 million people, emitted 696 million tons of CO2 per year, more than Britain, whose 60 million people emitted 578 million tons.
“Even Wyoming, the most sparsely populated state in the US, with only 510,000 people, emits more carbon dioxide than 69 developing countries that are home to 357 million,” NET said.
The report, presented on the fourth day of the 12-day UN
Climate Change Conference, placed the spotlight on what green groups brand President George W. Bush’s dangerous indifference to global warming.
A voracious burner of energy to fuel cars and heat or cool homes and offices, the US is the world’s biggest carbon polluter in terms of volume, according to official statistics, and among the highest in terms of per-capita emissions of greenhouse gases.
In 2006, its 302 million people emitted 19.46 tons of CO2 per head, compared with 1.92 tons per head in 148 developing countries which are home to 3.835 billion people.
President Bush has refused to set any mandatory federal curb on this pollution, promoting instead a mix of voluntary and technical measures to tackle the threat.
NET’s vice president for climate programs, Angela Anderson, said Bush was isolated abroad and increasingly under pressure at home over his approach.
“The good news is that many US states are laying the foundation for a comprehensive national policy to reduce global warming pollution,” said Anderson.
“Seventeen states, which together account for more than a third of the nation’s total emissions, have emission reduction plans.”
Democratic control over the US Congress has also led to a surge of legislative action at federal level, including proposed caps on greenhouse gases, tougher fuel-economy standards and energy efficiency, the report added.
The December 3-14 conference in Bali, taking place under the banner of the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), is tasked with setting down a negotiation blueprint to slash greenhouse-gas emissions beyond 2012.
Greenhouse gases are so called because they trap heat from the Sun, which causes Earth’s surface to warm and thus inflict damage to the climate system.
CO2, the principal greenhouse gas, is a byproduct of oil, gas and coal, which provide the backbone of the world’s energy needs.
By some measurements, the United States has been overtaken, or will be overtaken this year, by China as the world’s No. 1 carbon polluter, a position Beijing is likely to hold for many years to come.
But, noted NET, the United States bears a massive historical responsibility for the warming and climate damage observed today.
Since 1907, China has emitted 99 billion tons of CO2, compared to 318 billion tons by the United States, it said, quoting a 2005 estimate by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
Today, the average Chinese emits 3.80 tons of CO2 per year, less than a fifth of US levels.
“At current growth rates, China’s total historic CO2 emissions won’t catch up to the US until mid-2051,” said the report, entitled “Taking Responsibility: Why the United States Must Lead the World in Reducing Global Warming Pollution.”Filed under: Headlines