The data no one wants to include in the news... U.S. is leading the world in emission reductions
In 2006, the U.S. economy expanded at the real and robust rate of 2.9 per cent a decent rate of growth for any advanced economy. Economic growth necessarily requires more consumption of energy, right? Economic growth necessarily requires more greenhouse gas emissions, right?
Here's a quick Q&A to test these environmental assumptions.
Question: By what percentage did U.S. greenhouse gas emissions increase in 2006? minus 1.5 per cent.
In 2006, GHG emissions in the U.S. did not increase, notwithstanding either the revved-up economy or the environmental reputation of Republican President George W. Bush. Rather, they decreased in absolute terms for the first time ever in the U.S. in a growth-year economy.
An independent statistical agency in the U.S. Energy Department, the EIA reports total American GHG emissions in 2006 , down 105.8 MMT.
This is a singular U.S. achievement, demonstrating that technological advances, voluntary actions by millions of people and higher oil prices can quickly drive decisive environmental improvements. The U.S. economy has successfully squeezed more and more production from a dollar's worth of energy for years. Now, it has squeezed more production still from less than a dollar's worth of energy. Indeed, EIA reports that U.S. "greenhouse gas intensity" a measure of greenhouse gases produced per million dollars of gross domestic product fell by a whopping 4.2 per cent in 2005, the largest annual decrease ever.
Although Mr. Bush is widely regarded as indifferent to environmental causes, he set the U.S. on this particular cause more energy bang for the buck in 2002, well before climate change had hit its current, frenzied intensity. Within the decade, Mr. Bush presciently said, the U.S. would reduce GHG intensity by 18 per cent, meaning that the U.S. would become one-fifth more energy efficient within 10 years. From 2002 through 2005, U.S. emissions intensity has declined 2.5 per cent a year. With the extraordinary decline in 2006, the U.S. has already achieved five-ninths of its goal and could fully achieve it two years early.
In 2006, the EIA says, the U.S. reduced its cumulative increase in GHG emissions since 1990 to 15.1 per cent from 16.8 per cent. The original and controversial Kyoto target for developed economies was a reduction in emissions to the 1990 level. Were the American achievements of 2006 to persist, the U.S. could ironically meet the Kyoto objective by 2011 even though the country never ratified the Kyoto Protocol and never embraced its objectives. Environment Canada, incidentally, reports that Canadian emissions, at the end of 2005 (the most recent year available), exceeded Kyoto objectives by 32.7 per cent.