The US has, so far, been reluctant to sign any binding document limiting CO2 emissions such as the Kyoto protocol. With a change of leadership and some new legislation in the US under President Obama, many were hopeful that a change in policy towards climate change was viable.
Considering recent development in the States, only the very optimistic still count on America as a leader within a worldwide commitment to reduce emissions and actively reverse the effects of anthropogenic global warming. The Tea Party movement is gaining popularity, and the elections next Tuesday will almost definitely see the democrats loose their majority in congress. The propaganda machinery of those who try to convince their clientele that the continuing increase of temperature is not man-made works so well because it’s convenient. Many Americans are worried about loosing their jobs which often rely on industries heavily dependent on oil. Even devastating incidents like the oil pest in the Gulf of Mexico hasn’t profoundly changed attitudes, even in Louisiana the vast majority is against a stop of deep drilling for oil.
So chances are a Global Warming Solutions Act is not going to happen any time soon in the U.S., and if for some the main reason for not supporting this urgent cause is to weaken Obama.
This has a huge impact on global development. Whereas not so long ago, in the aftermath of the Copenhagen Summit, Europe discussed a voluntary raise from 20% reduction of greenhouse gases to 30%, the EU commission now finds that the pre-conditions for such a raise are not fulfilled. Last Friday the Commission announced that “a way for a global and binding framework” will be discussed at the summit in Cancun in four weeks time. The problem is the Europe will only tighten its laws on emissions if that won’t lead to an economic disadvantage, meaning that it cannot take this step by itself.
Maybe it’s time to reconsider the approach of a global binding commitment including the U.S. and to start a search for partners on a smaller scale, possibly within the G20. China, which has now overtaken the United States in terms of GHG emissions, is accelerating investments in green technologies and could influence development in countries such as Brazil and Indonesia. The EU commission has published the latest data on shares of global GHG emissions:
- China 20%
- United States 19%
- EU 15%
- Brazil 8%
- Indonesia 6%
- India 5%
- Japan 4%
Time really is running out, and it looks as if it’s running out quicker than the oil. So it is all about a conscious decision and serious commitment to move towards a low-carbon society, but the sad truth is that profit-making today is valued more than surviving tomorrow.